Cannflavin & 10 Facts on Hemp Sprouts


We have already touched upon the topic of hemp sprouts in a short article titled: “10 reasons for eating hemp sprouts”. It’s an old article, dated june 2014 which I wrote few minutes after the illuminating discourse of Professor Giovanni Appendino at the plenary seminar of the annual ICRS symposium.

Many of you have asked to provide a more in-depth insight, and I agree that the topic is really important, that’s why I am teaching about it in a continuing medical education (CME) course in my homecountry.

Talking about hemp sprouts means talking about daily diet, and prevention, so it should be a knowledge accessible & understandable to all: so that’s why I decided to make this video on 10 facts on hemp sprouts, enjoy!


Hemp seeds anti-inflammatory effects

With a complete source of all essential amino and fatty acids, hemp seed is a complete nutritional source. Well over 80% of its total fat content its composed of PUFA Omega 6 (like LA) and Omega 3 (like ALA). Hemp seeds are amongst the only edibles seeds containing significant concentrations of other 2 PUFA, ω-6 GLA & ω-3 SDA . These compounds decrease the formation of inflammatory prostanoids from arachidonic acid. There is substantial evidence to show that consumption of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) is associated with health benefits. (1, 2)

Hemp seeds, and so hemp seed oil, offer the unique property of:

  • Increasing tissue concentration of anti-inflammatory ω-3 PUFA
  • Decreasing the production of inflammatory eicosanoids

And you might be wondering, what does all of the above has to do with sprouts & cannflavins?
WAIT! We are getting there…

Sprouts are nothing else than seeds allowed to grow. Many of us include in our daily diet hemp seeds; Either whole, de-hulled, hemp seed oil or flours are becoming increasingly popular foods amongst the health-conscious.
Hemp sprouts are less known of, so here are at least 10 good reasons for including them in your daily staples:

1) Sprouting makes seeds more digestible

Sprouting inhibits phytic acid, & neutralises enzyme inhibitors helping to avoid bloating (the number one reason people don’t like to eat so much legumes and pulses).
Sprouting also generally lowers the total fat content & converts the dense vegetable protein to simpler amino acids, helping our bodies to assimilate easier their nutritional contents. (3,4)

2) Sprouting makes seeds become more alkaline

Seeds and oils aren’t very alkaline compared to other plant based food, like vegetables. When we sprout seeds, these become closer to the “state” of vegetables, and hence becoming more alkaline, which it’s an important quality of foods that help us maintain a balanced physiology free from inflammation. (5)

3) Sprouting increases vitamin & nutrient content available

This is true for any kind of sprout: vitamins like vitamin C increase after sprouting. It is such an old knowledge that Chinese sailors used to carry mung beans when on long journeys at sea to sprout them in order to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin C & prevent scurvy. (6)

What happens with hemp sprouts? The anti-inflammatory ɣ-linolenic acid (GLA) which we mentioned earlier increases of 30% from seed to sprout! (7)

Fatty acids composition of seeds and sprouts from the Ermo variety of hemp

Each data represents the mean of three replicates ± standard deviation (7)

Fatty acid (relative %)SeedsSprouts
Linoleic57.53± 0.258.00± 0.31
α-Linolenic24.53± 0.1424.55± 0.17
Oleic9.97± 0.0610.01± 0.07
γ- Linolenic1.08± 0.011.42± 0.03
Palmitic4.96± 0.134.18± 0.207
Stearic1.94± 0.011.85± 0.04

4) Sprouting does not induce formation of cannabinoids

This is pretty straightforward: with sprouting the plant does not produce cannabinoids, meaning that there is no psychotropic effect, making it a safe product for use as a dietary item for anyone, from children to elderly to pregnant women.

5) Sprouting induces the formation of unique flavonoids

In some hemp varieties sprouting induces the formation of prenylated flavonoids like cannflavins, cannabispiranes, canniprenes, which are present in the leaves and flowers of hemp and not the seeds.

Flavonoids are secondary metabolites of plants. Plants produce them to protect against oxidative stress, pathogens and from UV radiation. Flavonoids found in Cannabis plant present anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neuro-protective properties.

6) Cannflavin is a flavonoid unique to hemp sprouts

Cannabis produces about 20 flavonoids (that we identified), some in common with other plants (like apigenin, kampferol or quercetin) & other unique to the cannabis plant like Cannflavin, which is actually a mix of two closely related flavonoids, CFA and CFB. (8,9)

FlavonoidAlso found in
ApigeninCooking herbs
CannflavinOnly cannabis
KampferolCapers, kale
LuteolinSpices & herbs
QuercetinGreen vegetables

7) Cannflavin has considerable anti-inflammatory activity

The anti-inflammatory effect of cannflavin was found already in 1985 and shown to be higher than that of aspirin. Cannflavin is equipotent to cannabinoids in inhibiting inflammatory prostaglandins & leukotrienes.
Cannflavins are in fact the first flavonoids having direct inhibitory activity on the two crucial enzymes in the biosynthesis of these pro-inflammatory mediators, (5-LO & PGES-1). (7,10) Such dual inhibition is considered a pharmacological strategy in order to intervene with inflammatory diseases and might be superior over single target in terms of:

  • increased efficacy 
  • lower side effects

8) Daily hemp sprouts consumption offers potential clinical benefits

Flavonoids have a long elimination life from our bodies, meaning that it is possible to achieve bio-active concentrations of cannflavins in plasma and tissues with a regular consumption, for example from our diet.

Although this is hasn’t been tested in more details yet, the scientists studying cannflavins suggest that the best intake for cannflavins is within their fatty omega-3 matrix, (like when they are found in sprouts) & could help increase the activity & absorption of cannflavins. They suggest that 20 g of daily fresh hemp sprouts are probably sufficient for obtaining significant concentrations of these anti-inflammatory molecules. (7)

9) Not every hemp sprout is the same!

Seeds that have been gamma radiated or sterilised won’t germinate. But what about the seeds that do germinate? Is every hemp sprout equal?

A study compared different chemovars & found that amongst those analysed varieties like hemp Ermo have the highest amounts of CFA , whilst other like hemp variety Finola and a THCA variety (meaning a drug type cannabis) reported 0% concentration of cannflavins. On the other hand, Cannflavin C was recently reported from an high-potency THCA cannabis plant; and although we are not sure what cannflavin C exactly does yet, we understand that each variety of seed will generate different products. (7, 11)

10) Sprouting is easy & cost efficient

The best part of all is that in order to obtain all these wonderful nutritional benefits we don’t really need much!
Think about sprouting seeds like imitating springtime:

  1. Make sure your hands and all surfaces are clean & sterile
  2. Allow your seeds to keep constant moisture & sufficient warmth (the cooler the T, the slower the germination)
  3. Leave the seeds in peace & dark for 4 to 5 days
  4. Be very gentle when touching them (avoid touching their taproot).

It sounds way more complicated than it is.

I believe they are so cost effective & easy to make that could become part of meals in hospitals & could really make a difference in supporting the health of elderly or chronic patients.


I hope you liked this insight on hemp sprouts as a dietary item, if you would like to learn more you can check the references down below, or get in touch with us: we provide a donation-based consultation so that is up to you to decide how valuable is for your life the information we provide.

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1) Leizer, C., Ribnicky, D., Poulev, A., Dushenkov, S., & Raskin, I. (2000). The composition of hemp seed oil and its potential as an important source of nutrition. Journal of Nutraceuticals, functional & medical foods, 2(4), 35-53.

2) Walker, C. G., Jebb, S. A., & Calder, P. C. (2013). Stearidonic acid as a supplemental source of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to enhance status for improved human health. Nutrition,29(2), 363-369.

3) Kumar, A. L. P. A. N. A., & Chauhan, B. M. (1993). Effects of phytic acid on protein digestibility (in vitro) and HCl-extractability of minerals in pearl millet sprouts. Cereal chemistry, 70, 504-504

4) Khattak, A. B., Zeb, A., Bibi, N., Khalil, S. A., & Khattak, M. S. (2007). Influence of germination techniques on phytic acid and polyphenols content of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) sprouts.Food chemistry, 104(3), 1074-1079.

5) Schwalfenberg, G. K. (2012). The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012.

6) International Sprout Growers Association. (2017). The History of Sprouts and Their Nutritional Value. Available: Last accessed 6th Dec 2017.

7) Werz, O., Seegers, J., Schaible, A. M., Weinigel, C., Barz, D., Koeberle, A., … & Appendino, G. (2014). Cannflavins from hemp sprouts, a novel cannabinoid-free hemp food product, target microsomal prostaglandin E 2 synthase-1 and 5-lipoxygenase. PharmaNutrition, 2(3), 53-60.

8) Callaway JC. Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview. Euphytica 2004; 140: 65-72.

9) Russo EB. History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet. Chem,.Biodiv. 2007; 4: 1614- 1648.

10) Barrett, M. L., Gordon, D., & Evans, F. J. (1985). Isolation from Cannabis sativa L. of cannflavin—a novel inhibitor of prostaglandin production. Biochemical pharmacology, 34(11), 2019-2024.

11) Radwan, M. M., ElSohly, M. A., Slade, D., Ahmed, S. A., Wilson, L., El-Alfy, A. T. & Ross, S. A. (2008). Non-cannabinoid constituents from a high potency Cannabis sativa variety. Phytochemistry, 69(14), 2627-2633.

Viola Brugnatelli

Viola Brugnatelli is a Neuroscientist specialised in Cannabinoid circuitry & GPCRs signalling. Her academy and research training let her gain extensive experience on medical cannabis and terpenes both from preclinical as well as clinical perspective. In her vision, collective human knowledge behold the power for overall improvement of life, thus, it should be accessible and shareable. Viola is Founder of the science online magazine Nature Going Smart, and works as a consultant for companies & individual patients, as a speaker at seminars and workshops and as a lecturer in a CME course on Medical Cannabis in Italy, at the University of Padua.

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