Get to Know Your Cannabis Compounds: What’s in Your Vape?

Posted by Derek Champoux
4 years ago / January 27, 2020

Get to Know Your Cannabis Compounds: What’s in Your Vape?

Cannabinoids Terpenes Flavonoids

When vaping, it’s important to understand what exactly you’re inhaling. Learning more about cannabis, its different strains, and the various compounds that constitute each type can help you get the most out of your vape experience.

Cannabis is known to contain over 400 chemical compounds, each as interesting as the next. In this article, we explore three of the most studied cannabis compound groups: :

  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenoids
  • Flavonoids


Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis that interact with our endocannabinoid systems when ingested. Most cannabinoid discussions revolve around 9-THC, cannabis’s chief psychoactive compound, and CBD, a cannabinoid known for its relaxing and stress-reducing properties. But there are so many more to learn about, including CBG, CBN, CBC, 8-THC, CBD, THCV, CBDV. We’ll take a deeper dive into these cannabinoids and their properties in future articles.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system that keeps many of our crucial bodily functions operating in harmony. All living vertebrates, including you and everyone you’ve ever met, have endocannabinoid systems. These systems produce naturally forming endocannabinoids that bind with endocannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies to help regulate sleep, mood, appetite, memory and more. Cannabinoids also bind with these receptors and when they do, we experience all the effects cannabis has to offer.

When 9-THC, for example, binds with our CB1 receptors, we experience the psychoactive highs that most associate with cannabis. When CBD enters our systems alongside 9-THC, it interacts with our CB1 receptors differently, limiting the intensity and effects of its cannabinoid cousin. This interplay is known as “the entourage effect” and represents only the tip of the iceberg for cannabinoid interactions, given that more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified and they all react a little differently with one another. Clearly, we still have quite a lot to learn.

Terpenoids (Terpenes)

TerpenoidsTerpenoids, or terpenes, are found in all sorts of organic life, from plants to insects. They play important roles in the ways that plants interact with the world. Terpenes can attract bees for pollination, ward off predators, and protect plants from the sun’s harmful UV rays. In cannabis, they play a similar defensive role but are best recognized for producing the distinctive and vast aromas we associate with the plant.

Even those who don’t use cannabis are exposed to terpenes on a daily basis. They are commonly used in household products like cleaners, perfumes, and can be found in food and beverages.

Cannabinoids and flavonoids produce no discernible scents. When you vape cannabis oil, smoke cannabis, or whiff raw, dried flower, it is the terpenes you are smelling. The ratios and types of terpenes present in a strain determine its differents scents and qualities. Terpenes also produce an array of physical and therapeutic effects when ingested alongside cannabinoids and flavonoids.

More than 200 distinct terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but there are only a few with which you need to familiarize yourself:

Cannabis Terpenes


Flavonoids in CannabisFlavonoids are phytonutrients responsible for giving (non-green) fruits, vegetables, and fungi their bright colors. These compounds play an important role in vaping cannabis. They affect not only the color of the flower but also its flavor and effects.

Of course, flavonoids don’t exist just for our benefit. They play key defensive roles for plants, providing UV protection for plants and preventing diseases. Flavonoids are also important for communication. They fend off predatory insects, attract pollinators, and act as chemical messengers in the plant cells.

Flavonoids have a growing reputation in the wellness community. Some studies propose that flavonoids in cannabis have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral benefits.

Scientists have discovered more than 6,000 flavonoids in nature. All of which seem to fall neatly into the following six categories:

  1. Flavanones – Aromatic flavonoids that appear to play a role in cell growth.
  2. Flavanonols – Flavonoids that play a role in inhibiting plant cell growth.
  3. Anthoxanthins – Flavonoids that produce white or yellow pigmentation in plants.
  4. Flavans – Flavonoids that lend a bitter or acidic tastes to food and beverages.
  5. Anthocyanidins – Flavonoids that produce red, blue, and purple pigmentation in plants.
  6. Cannaflavins – Flavonoids specific to cannabis that give the plant its pigmentation and flavor.

Research has shown that the effects of Cannaflavins, specifically, can be substantial. Cannaflavin-A and Cannaflavin-B, for instance, have anti-inflammatory effects that are up to 30 times more powerful than over-the-counter painkillers without any side effects or long-term health risks. Not surprisingly, flavonoids are rapidly becoming one of the most exciting areas of cannabis research.

Know What’s in Your Vape Pen

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