CONFIRMED: Beta-Sitosterol NOT a Cannabis Flavonoid

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Beta-Sitosterol is not a cannabis flavonoid, despite reports to the contrary from dozens of prominent cannabis industry websites.  In fact, Beta-Sitosterol isn’t a flavonoid at all – it’s a plant sterol, and this is easily confirmed with a quick review of the scientific literature.

During extensive flavonoid research for The Big Book of Terps, this author reviewed 52 studies that focused on β-Sitosterol.  Not one of these studies referred to this compound as a flavonoid.  In fact, many of the studies referred to β-Sitosterol as a plant sterol, while in the same study, referred to flavonoids separately.  However, the cannabis industry insists that this compound is a flavonoid:

ACS Laboratory, the only US lab testing for flavonoids as of late 2019 and early 2020, tested 15 strain samples sent by this author, returning Beta-Sitosterol as the #1 flavonoid in all but one of the strains.

Modern Canna doesn’t appear to have flavonoid testing up and running yet, but the lab is including Beta-Sitosterol in its flavonoid test panel.

WeedMaps – the largest cannabis media in the world, also reports Beta-Sitosterol as a flavonoid.

Alchimia, a leading cannabis industry seed supplier, reports Beta-Sitosterol as a flavonoid.

Merry Jane, the cannabis website started by Snoop Dog, erroneously reports Beta-Sitosterol as a flavonoid.

Green Leaf Cannabis Consulting reports Beta-Sitosterol as a flavonoid.

Interestingly, of 15 unique cannabis samples that I sent to ACS Laboratory in Florida, USA, for flavonoid testing, all but one returned β-Sitosterol as the #1 flavonoid in the samples by concentration.  I had sent these samples for testing in January 2020, before fully realizing that β-Sitosterol is not a flavonoid.

I consulted with prominent cannabis researcher David Dawson, who concurred that the compound is a plant sterol and not a flavonoid.  I then emailed my contacts at ACS Laboratory, asking why β-Sitosterol was being included for testing in the company’s flavonoid panel.  The response:

“[Dr. Sun] put the flavonoid panel together a few years ago at the request of a customer who wanted that analyte on the list.  She admitted she has not done extensive research on beta-sitosterol, as this panel is typically in low demand.”

 Dr. Sun is the Chief Scientist for ACS Laboratory.

After removing β-Sitosterol from the flavonoid test results, it became clear that the #1 flavonoid in all but one of the samples tested was Cannflavin A.

Including Beta-Sitosterol as a flavonoid, ACS Laboratory showed it as the #1 flavonoid in all but one of 15 samples. After removing the compound, it became clear Cannflavin A was the primary flavonoid constituent.

However, this situation also made it obvious that, although β-Sitosterol is not a flavonoid, it is a common and important compound that appears to occur in every cannabis strain.  Further research shows that β-Sitosterol has significant medical value, securing an individual chapter that discusses this compound in The Big Book of Terps, which was initially meant to only cover terpenes and flavonoids.

Conclusion; β-Sitosterol is a valuable plant sterol in cannabis.  It is not a flavonoid.

Recommendation; Cannabis websites need to better research the information they provide their visitors – the credibility of the entire industry is at stake.

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