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CBD Oils for Cancer Patients? Over-the-counter or as a drug

Supply of and demand for cannabidiol (CBD) are increasing rapidly. CBD in the form of oils is also enjoying popularity among cancer patients. CBD oils are available by prescription and also over-the-counter. What’s behind it? Non-intoxicating cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) have become increasingly popular in recent years: both in the general population and among oncology patients. Consumers hope to find relief from CBD for a wide variety of ailments.

Indication, efficacy and dosage of CBD have not yet been sufficiently investigated in clinical studies. In cancer, possible side effects and interactions also play an important role. How doctors can advise cancer patients on CBD and CBD oils, informs krebsinformationsdienst.med.

Not all hemp is the same

There are different varieties of hemp. Depending on the hemp plant and plant part, hemp (lat. cannabis) contains different cannabinoids: over 100 phytocannabinoids are known.

The two best known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Compared to THC, CBD has the advantage that it is not intoxicating (psychoactive) and therefore does not fall under the narcotics law.

In addition, hemp contains other effective substances such as terpenes and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Components of the hemp plant

The hemp plant consists of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds. On the entire plant – with the exception of seeds and roots – are the glandular hairs that produce the various cannabinoids. This is the reason why products containing hemp purely based on hemp seeds do not contain CBD and THC. This also applies to food products such as hemp seed flour or hemp seed oil.

Commercial hemp versus medicinal hemp

Depending on the purpose for which the hemp is further processed, manufacturers use different hemp varieties.

The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa L. – also known as commercial or industrial hemp: Because this hemp also serves textile, food and cosmetics industries as a raw material. In Europe, hemp varieties that contain no more than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are approved for this purpose.

For medicinal purposes, medical hemp with higher amounts of THC is used.

How are CBD products manufactured?

Manufacturers of cannabidiol-containing products use the above-ground parts of the EU-certified commercial hemp plant Cannabis sativa L. There are various methods for extracting cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant. To obtain CBD as pure as possible, extraction with CO2 is preferred.

CBD can also be produced synthetically in the laboratory – mainly for medicinal purposes.

Due to its chemical properties, CBD is highly soluble in oil. Depending on the CBD oil, producers use various base oils such as olive, sesame or grape seed oil. Hemp seed oil, which itself is cannabinoid-free – as described above – can also be used.

Important to know: The composition of over-the-counter CBD oils is not uniformly defined. Due to enrichments and admixtures of other ingredients, the products offered can be very variable. And what is stated on the outside does not always match the actual ingredients1 – according to scientific studies. Researchers showed that preparations not infrequently contained relevant amounts of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cannabidiol products: a diverse range

At first glance, over-the-counter cannabidiol products may look confusingly similar to an approved CBD drug. However, while the ingredients of a drug are clearly defined pharmacologically, the CBD content in over-the-counter products is not standardized. Pharmaceuticals are subject to regular safety monitoring, but over-the-counter CBD oils are not.

These CBD preparations are tested and prescription drugs:

Epidyolex is the only finished drug to date that contains CBD as the sole active ingredient. As of fall 2019, the drug is approved for two specific forms of childhood epilepsy, based on the results of a high-quality Phase III study.

Also without a narcotic prescription, physicians can prescribe CBD-only formulary medicines.