Phenolic compounds are chemicals found in the cannabis plant that possess bioactive properties, such as antioxidant activity. The plant synthesizes a diverse range of phenolic compounds, including flavonoids, lignanamides, and phenolic acids. While phenolic compounds do not play a critical role in the development of the plant, they do offer therapeutic benefits for those who consume them. Phenolic compounds also influence the flavor and color of the cannabis plant.
“Like terpenes and cannabinoids, phenolic compounds constitute another key element of the plant’s phytochemical composition.”
What are phenolic compounds?
Phenolic compounds encompass a range of compounds naturally found in plants, including cannabis, and include both phenolic acids and polyphenols. These compounds are known as secondary metabolites as they do not play a direct role in the growth, development or reproduction of the plant; but phenolic compounds possess a number of benefits for those who consume them, offering antioxidant properties and other bioactive effects beneficial for health. Phenolic compounds also influence the flavor and color of the cannabis plant.
Some of the main phenolic compounds present in cannabis include flavonoids, phenolic acids, phenol amides, and liganamides. Cannabis contains a number of phenolic compounds unique to it, such as cannflavins, a specific type of flavonoid.
What are the benefits of phenolic compounds?
Research indicates that phenolic compounds in cannabis represent a valuable source of natural antioxidants and bioactive benefits not commonly found in other plants.
Studies have already found that cannabis-specific flavonoids Cannflavin A and B exhibit anti-inflammatory activity that is thirty times more potent than that of aspirin. Cannflavin A has also been found to offer neuroprotective benefits, mediating against neurotoxicity. This property could be further developed to target neurodegeneration that characterizes diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
It’s likely that ongoing studies will continue to unpack the therapeutic applications of phenolic compounds specific to cannabis and harness their benefits in nutraceutical products.
Phenolic compounds can be prone to damage during extraction or processing, which can diminish their bioactive characteristics. Researchers have begun exploring the most effective methods of extracting phenolic compounds from cannabis to protect their beneficial properties.