Cannabis: What Is It and What Are The Different Routes of Administration

Cannabis: What Is It and What Are The Different Routes of Administration

10 Apr . 5 min read.



To understand what CBD is, you first need to understand where it comes from – starting with the Cannabis plant. Cannabis is a plant family that includes many species including Hemp and Marijuana. Although Hemp and Marijuana come from this same family of plants, they have distinctly different purposes and uses. Hemp and Industrial Hemp refer to the strain of Cannabis that is grown for agricultural products such as textiles, seeds and oils. Marijuana is known for its flowering tops of the plant. The flowers of the plant are typically bred to have a high THC content. The average THC content of Hemp is less than 1%, whereas the average THC content of Marijuana is more than 10%.

CBD can be extracted from both of these strains of Cannabis, as well as being synthesised in a lab. The end result in the isolation of the CBD compound would be the same no matter where it is extracted from.

Now we’ve cleared that up – what’s the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD is not to be confused with the main compound found in Marijuana, known as THC. THC is the illegal and psychoactive substance found in some of these strains of the Cannabis plant.  CBD – or Cannabidiol – is another compound within the Cannabis plant. CBD does not include any illegal or psychoactive properties and has been found to have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-anxiety and/or anti-spasm effects without causing euphoria or lethargy. (Johnson, et al., 2010)

CBD and THC have the exact same chemical makeup of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. What differentiates the two compounds is the arrangement of a single atom, which changes the tertiary structure of the molecule; resulting in them having different interactions and effects on the body. (Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report, 2017)

We briefly mentioned the potential benefits that CBD can have above – this is an important aspect of CBD to be aware of. While many claims to have experienced the benefits that CBD can offer, it cannot be recommended as a cure or a treatment option for any condition. The following is a list compiled by the World Health Organisation (Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report, 2017) of diseases and conditions that CBD has been found to be of benefit to:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Huntingdon’s Disease
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia Injury
  • Pain
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Nausea
  • Inflammatory Diseases
  • Rheumatoid Diseases
  • Infection
  • Inflammatory Bowel & Crohn’s Diseases
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Diabetic Complications

Again, it is important to bear in mind that due to UK legislation it is not possible to make any definitive claims that CBD can cure or heal any medical affliction. CBD oil is currently sold as a food supplement with no MHRA herbal or medicinal authorisation. This is why, legally, no medical claims can be made for its use.

Understanding the manufacturing process of CBD products is vital for ensuring that you are purchasing the best quality product on the market. All legitimate companies that sell CBD oil should be able to produce a lab report that breaks down the exact contents of their CBD oil. The best quality CBD oils should show that the CBD contents is exactly what is stated on the packaging, and not a sum of – or even any less than –  all of the compounds found within that product. Other compounds that are not CBD but can be found within full spectrum CBD oils include CBDa, CBN, CBG and CBC.

Using a product that has an accurate CBD contents means that you can more accurately measure and calculate the correct CBD dosage for your needs.

There are multiple methods of taking CBD. These include; inhalation, topical application, sublingual and ingestion.

Inhalation is commonly administered through the use of a vaping device. The CBD enters the lungs in the form of a vapour and diffuses into the blood stream. This method allows the CBD to enter your bloodstream much faster than other methods do – but it means that it also leaves your bloodstream much faster than other methods.

Topical application can come in a variety of forms including salves, lotions, creams, balms, shampoos and even bath bombs. These products usually only have an effect on the uppermost layer of cells, and generally, the CBD does not enter the bloodstream.

The sublingual application is where CBD oils are dropped under the tongue, where it diffuses into the bloodstream and capillaries into the mouth through the mucous membranes. The remaining product that is digested enters the bloodstream via the digestive system. This method often allows for the most prolonged delivery of CBD.

The most common way of taking CBD is through ingestion – where CBD oils or food and drink with added CBD enter the bloodstream through the digestive system. It delivers the CBD at a much slower rate to some of the other methods of delivery but is often the easiest and most efficient way to consume CBD for general purposes. (Nadulski, et al., 2005)

As CBD is still an unregulated substance, it can be difficult to find accurate education and advice on it. Pharmacists are currently some of the best-educated professionals within the healthcare field to confidently advise you on everything relating to CBD. Many pharmacies are now beginning to stock CBD products as awareness of their potential benefits grows.


Now available for you and your pharmacy staff is a Nationally Accredited Online Training Course by the team behind Recharge CBD. will educate your staff on CBD; what it is, how it works, about its dosages, legislation and more. It also includes two additional modules which focus on building confidence and knowledge in OTC sales and management strategies.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report. (2017). Retrieved from World Health Organisation:

Johnson, J. R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E. D., Potts, R., & Fallon, M. T. (2010). Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable Cancer-Related Pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Nadulski, T., Pragst, F., Weinberg, G., Roser, P., Schnelle, M., Fronk, E.-M., & Stadelmann, A. (2005). Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study About the Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on the Pharmacokinetics of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) After Oral Application of THC Verses Standardized Cannabis Extract. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.