frequently asked questions


Phytocannabinoids – The Current Major Players

Phytocannabinoids are a class of compounds found in plants (phyto) that act upon the endocannabinoid system. The majority of phytocannabinoids are found in the species cannabis sativa but can also be found elsewhere such as black pepper and purple coneflower.[1] There are currently more than one hundred known phytocannabinoids.

The most well known and studied phytocannabinoid is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects, as well as many medicinal properties, of cannabis.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is considered “non-psychoactive” and is the second most studied phytocannabinoid. CBD can lessen or neutralize the psychoactive effect of THC. [2]

Notable CBD effects include pain reduction, muscle spasm relaxation, stimulating in low doses, anti-inflammatory, stops nausea/vomiting, reduces anxiety and depression, no “high” or psychoactive effects, counters psychotic thoughts, anti-oxidant, anti-convulsant , anti-tumor and neuro-protectant. [3]


[1] Sulak, D.O., D. Meet the Phytocannabinoids-The Primary Active Constituents of Cannabis. (cited 2015, July 19). Available from:

[2] Project CBD. What is CBD? Available from:

[3] Goldstein, M.D., Bonni. Cannabis Revealed. pg. 11 Bonni S. Goldstein MD INC. 2016.

What should I know about CBD?

In Pennsylvania, CBD products legally purchased by consumers who are not currently physician certified medical cannabis patients and registered with the state registry are theoretically hemp-derived. Hemp, a low-resin plant, is low in cannabinoid content. Hemp is not an optimal source of CBD or other medicinal compounds such as terpenoids and flavanoids. A large amount of hemp plants are required in order to obtain a small amount of CBD, increasing the risk of contamination. As a “bioaccumulator” hemp accumulates toxic substances from the soil. These plants can contain metals, molds, bacteria and pesticides.[1] Solvents are used to extract CBD, some of which are innocuous organic solvents (ethanol, isopropyl alcohol) to more harmful ones (petroleum-ether, naptha) or even super-critical fluids (butane, CO2).[2] During the extraction process, contaminants may become concentrated and can be toxic.

Although CBD as a cannabinoid plays an important role as a therapeutic agent, caution much be taken when purchasing products in an unregulated market. Patients, caregivers, and consumers should demand standardization of labeling and analytic laboratory testing of CBD products. They should also demand to view the analytic testing of the product they are considering for documentation of cannabinoid profile and contaminants prior to purchase. Reputable distributors should be able to provide this information to the consumer.


[1] Goldstein, M.D., Bonni. Cannabis Revealed. Pg. 21. Bonni Goldstein MD INC. 2016.

[2] Hazekamp, A. The Trouble with CBD Oil. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids. 2018: 1:65-72


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