Flavonoid Friday: Everything You Need to Know About Apigenin Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Flavonoid Friday: Everything You Need to Know About Apigenin Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

In this post:

  • What is apigenin?
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Apigenin in skincare
  • Apigenin for anxiety
  • Foods high in apigenin
  • Best form of apigenin

For centuries, people have sought relief and relaxation in a mug of chamomile tea. This staple of holistic medicine has long been regarded as a source of muscle relaxation, pain relief, and even sleep assistance. Today, we can pinpoint precisely why chamomile tea affects our system- the flower is packed with antioxidants called flavonoids.

The flavonoid that gives chamomile its powers of relaxation is called Apigenin, pronounced “ah-pih-jen-in.” You can find this flavonoid throughout nature, including cannabis, parsley, and chamomile, as well as in beer and wine.

Apigenin is a powerful antioxidant, with a range of health benefits, from reducing anxiety and depression levels to relieving pain and even fighting cancer. Here’s everything you need to know about superpowered Apigenin and what it brings to your favorite cannabis strains.

Flavonoid Apigenin Infographic

What Do Flavonoids Like Apigenin Do for Plants and Humans?

Scientists have identified over 8,000 flavonoids, and 20 of them – Apigenin included – are found in cannabis. Flavonoids are sometimes referred to as “Vitamin P,” but they’re not vitamins.

Flavonoids are a prominent nutrient family in the plant world, giving our bodies a boost in antioxidant properties and crucial nutrients. In nature, flavonoids are essential for seed development and the plant’s growth process, executing essential functions like cell cycle progression and defense against outside factors like UV rays, fungi, bacteria, and insects.

But their impact doesn’t stop there. Flavonoids are also responsible for the appearance and pigment of the plant and the aroma and flavor. In cannabis, flavonoids are responsible for each strain’s color, smell, and taste. Flavonoids may be tiny molecular compounds, but they work hard!

Flavonoids work in tandem with cannabinoids and terpenes and are a crucial component of how we perceive cannabis. Flavonoids are an essential component of the “entourage effect,” a term describing how cannabis’s set of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds interact with our endocannabinoid system.

Each cannabis strain has different ratios of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, which is why each strain has a different effect on our bodies. Some strains have medicinal effects of pain relief, appetite stimulation, and sleepiness, while others have strong euphoric and psychoactive effects.

Flavonoids are not considered “essential nutrients” to humans, meaning we don’t need them to grow, but they are life span essential because their presence in our diets can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Flavonoids like Apigenin perform various crucial functions in our bodies, including regulating cellular activity and fighting free radicals, diminishing oxidative stress. Since flavonoids are potent antioxidant and antibacterial agents, their presence in our bodies is a force for good.

What is Apigenin?

Food sources of flavonoid Apigenin

Apigenin is a naturally occurring substance found in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including oranges, celery, celeriac, onions, parsley, chamomile, thyme, and basil. While you may be familiar with these ingredients, have you ever considered their importance in your diet, outside of striving for five servings of fruits and veggies?  Flavonoids like Apigenin play a crucial role in keeping us healthy.

Research shows that Apigenin has a powerful effect on the body, with antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties. The benefits of a diet rich in Apigenin range from clearer skin and pain relief to reducing your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Antioxidant Properties of Apigenin

Apigenin has a high level of antioxidant properties, which fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms in the body that react with other molecules and damage cells, leading to various unwelcome effects. Think of free radicals like unstable house guests- you can’t avoid them, but you can manage them.

When free radicals interact with and react to other molecules, they set off a chain reaction called oxidation. While oxidation is a process that occurs as we age, increased oxidation leads to a lowered ability to fight the effects of free radicals, leading to higher levels of oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is bad news for your body. It’s responsible for accelerated aging, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cancer, heart diseases, and other chronic conditions.

Super antioxidants, like Apigenin, are crucial to fighting oxidation in the body. While most flavonoids have some degree of antioxidant properties, fighting oxidation is Apigenin’s superpower.  

  • A 2019 study on the therapeutic potential of Apigenin found it had higher levels of antioxidant properties than other flavonoids.
  • This 2015 study showed Apigenin increased the expression of antioxidant enzymes and decreased nitric oxide, nitric oxide synthase, and cytosolic phospholipase.
  • A 2012 study on rats found that Apigenin inhibits oxidative stress by regulating specific pathways in the liver.

Apigenin and Skin Care

One way to maximize the free-radical-fighting power of Apigenin is with specialized skin care products. Oxidative stress can speed up the aging process, causing wrinkles, crow’s feet, and saggy skin. Topical applications of Apigenin can reduce wrinkles and increase skin elasticity, two common areas of concern for signs of aging.

  • A 2012 study found that Apigenin applied topically inhibits acute inflammation and subacute dermatitis and could treat eczema.
  • A 2016 study of 40 women found that topical application of Apigenin cream increased skin density and elasticity and reduced wrinkle length and UV damage.

Apigenin and Inflammation

In addition to fighting cancer and keeping the body healthy against free radicals, Apigenin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Holistic medicine has long enjoyed chamomile tea as a way to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Modern research has proven Apigenin promotes anti-inflammatory pathways, prevents IKB kinase degradation, and increases the expressions of antioxidant enzymes.

  • A 2020 review of existing literature concluded that flavonoids, including Apigenin, block the synthesis of inflammatory mediators.
  • A 2018 study gave 72 people suffering from migraines without aura a chamomile gel with Apigenin. In a questionnaire given out post-treatment, patients reported reduced symptoms, including pain, nausea, and discomfort from light and sounds.
  • A 2017 study on rats showed Apigenin blocked the activation of a cellular process that causes endocarditis, infectious heart inflammation with no cytotoxic effects.
  • In several studies conducted on rats and mice, Apigenin reduced inflammatory responses to sepsis infections and bacteria inflections.

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Apigenin and Anxiety

Chamomile tea is also known for its sedative effects. It’s more than just an old wive’s tale that chamomile can help you relax- it’s a proven fact!

Apigenin acts as an anxiolytic or anti-anxiety. It lowers the levels of generalized anxiety and reduces the body’s stress response.

  • This 2016 study found that participants who took chamomile extract to treat a generalized anxiety disorder for 26 weeks reported lower anxiety levels, reduced blood pressure, and weight loss.
  • A 2013 study observed anxiolytic effects on patients treated for anxiety with a chamomile extract for eight weeks.  
  • This 2012 study showed a link between chamomile extract and lower levels of depression. The study noted that anxiety often presents with comorbid depression.
  • A  study done in 2002 researching appropriate serving sizes of flavonoids found that at doses exceeding 10 mg per kg of bodyweight, Apigenin can have sedative effects.

What Foods are High in Apigenin?

If you’re looking to add Apigenin to your diet, you’re in luck – it’s one of the most widely dispersed flavonoids in the natural world. You’ll find Apigenin everywhere from fruits and veggies to herbs and beverages, including:

  • Parsley
  • Chamomile tea
  • Oranges
  • Beer
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Kumquats
  • Rutabagas
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Tarragon
  • Passionflower
  • Spearmint
  • Basil
  • Wine

What is the Best Form of Apigenin?

  • The richest source of Apigenin is in dried parsley, containing up to 45 mg per gram. Don’t skimp on the seasoning!
  • Reach for a soothing cup of chamomile tea to benefit from the stress-relieving properties of Apigenin, with 3-5 mg per gram of dried flower.
  • Add celery to your meals for a boost of Apigenin, with 19.1 mg per 100 grams.
  • One study of Apigenin found it is common in beer and red wine.

How the Body Processes Apigenin

Apigenin is a type of glycoside, a molecular bond between sugar and a functional group. Studies show Apigenin is absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract and the colon and enters the bloodstream to reach target tissues.  A study of the effects of orally administered Apigenin against gastrointestinal cancer showed that Apigenin in capsule form is the most efficient way to reach target absorption in the blood, suggesting that humans can absorb Apigenin effectively through the intestinal tissue.

How to Consume Cannabis to Get the Most Apigenin Absorbed into Your Body

Since Apigenin is so abundant in our foods, you may wonder what the best way of consuming cannabis is to maximize your flavonoid experience. A good rule of thumb is that eating cannabis is the best way to get the most flavonoids.

While smoking flower can activate the flavonoids, it can also burn them away. Tinctures can also be a good way to maximize your flavonoid intake, depending on the processing.

How Often Should I Take Apigenin?

Apigenin is naturally occurring and non-toxic, so chances are you’re already consuming it. Higher doses of Apigenin have anti-anxiety and sedative effects, so getting more of this potent flavonoid in your system can be beneficial. There is no established optimal dose for Apigenin and other flavonoids, and daily supplements range from 50 mg to 600 mg.

The Bottom Line

Apigenin is one of the most widely dispersed flavonoids in nature, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cannabis. It offers a power boost of antioxidants to fight against free radicals and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce immune response.

Enjoying Apigenin from a wide variety of sources is the best way to incorporate it into your diet, and you can always reach for a warm mug of chamomile tea for an extra boost to the system. If you’re looking for more anti-anxiety effects, you may consider taking supplements or consuming cannabis edibles to increase your Apigenin intake.

We test for 16 flavonoids at ACS Laboratory, including Apigenin and quercetin. As a CLIA-licensed laboratory, we can perform human trials on the bioavailability of these flavonoids, which is an integral part of pharmacokinetics, the study of drug movement through the body. These studies allow us to draw conclusions based on the actual science and not just anecdotal research.

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