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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.

Russ Hudson is an international cannabis consultant and author of The Big Book of Terps – the world’s largest resource on terpenes, flavonoids, and synergy in cannabis. Russ has dedicated more than 30 years to cannabis, working with the private social clubs of Spain, and the coffeeshops and suppliers of the Netherlands, while also specializing as a cannabis licensing and regulatory expert in more than a dozen US states. Russ has been arrested and jailed for cultivation and trafficking, he has been the subject of a Vice documentary, he has written a children’s book about cannabis, and he currently researches and collaborates with the world’s leading cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid scientists.

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