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UK Medical Cannabis Oil: Comprehensive Guide

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The British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) has endorsed cannabidiol (CBD) for children with severe epilepsy. This marks a significant advancement in medical treatment. Let’s delve into how cannabis and its oils are employed in the UK, focusing on their benefits for severe epilepsy, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis (MS)1.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released guidelines for using cannabidiol (Epidyolex®) to treat difficult cases of epilepsy. It’s particularly effective for severe epilepsy, nausea, and muscle tightness due to MS. Pure cannabidiol has shown efficacy and safety in children with epilepsy. However, it’s important to note that there are no official cannabis-based treatments for pain in the UK1.

Our aim is to clarify the regulations surrounding medical cannabis and to highlight the distinct roles of CBD and THC in medicine. Since 2018, NHS England has been educating healthcare professionals on the medicinal use of cannabis, ensuring proper patient guidance1.

medical cannabis oil

Key Takeaways

  • The BPNA recommends CBD for children with severe epilepsy.
  • NICE supports the use of Epidyolex® for hard-to-treat epilepsy.
  • There are approved medications for nausea, muscle tightness, and severe epilepsy in the UK.
  • No official cannabis-based treatments for pain exist yet.
  • NHS England has been training healthcare professionals on medical cannabis since 2018.

Introduction to Medical Cannabis and Cannabis Oil

Medical cannabis and cannabis oil are gaining recognition for their potential health benefits. However, their use is strictly regulated. NICE has guidelines for using CBD to treat conditions like Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes2. 

In the UK, medical cannabis is approved for specific conditions, including severe epilepsy, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and MS-related muscle tightness. However, obtaining medical cannabis through the NHS is challenging and limited to a few patients2.

Therapeutic Benefits of Medical Cannabis

Research and clinical practice in the UK show that medical cannabis can be highly beneficial. NICE endorses cannabis-derived products for treating severe epilepsy and chemotherapy-induced nausea2. 

Nabiximols (Sativex) is used to alleviate pain and spasticity in MS patients. However, due to the potential for dependency and psychosis, its use is closely monitored by specialist hospital doctors.

Medical cannabis can also be prescribed through  private medical cannabis clinic fir a much wider range of health issues than the NHS is willing to do so (more on this further down). Medical cannabis has been prescribed for a huge range of health issues in the UK so far, including chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others.

Types of Cannabis Oil

Types of Cannabis Oil

Understanding the different types of cannabis oil is crucial for maximising CBD benefits in the UK. The main types are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, CBD-rich, and THC-rich oils.

  1. Full-Spectrum Oil: Contains all the plant’s compounds, offering a comprehensive range of benefits, including the entourage effect where cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically.
  2. Broad-Spectrum Oil: Similar to full-spectrum but without THC, making it suitable for those avoiding psychoactive effects.
  3. CBD-Rich Oils: Focus on pure cannabidiol, ideal for specific health conditions without the high associated with THC.
  4. THC-Rich Oils: Made from cannabis flowers rich in THC, used for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects, particularly in pain management and nausea control.

Different extraction methods affect the quality and use of these oils:

  • CO2 Extraction: Yields pure oils with intact terpenes and cannabinoids, considered a green and sustainable method.
  • Ethanol Extraction: Cost-effective, but may result in a bitter taste due to chlorophyll unless further processed.
  • Lipid-Based Extraction: Involves infusing fats like coconut or MCT oil with cannabis, preserving many cannabinoids.

Medical Cannabis Uses in the UK

Medical cannabis shows promise for patients with severe epilepsy. NICE supports its use in challenging cases like Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes1. However, NHS prescriptions are hard to come by, limited to rare epilepsy types, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and MS-related muscle issues. Epidyolex®, a CBD medication, is one such approved treatment.

The UK government strictly controls the legal use of cannabis, focusing on medical applications and rejecting recreational use. The NHS has partnered with the University of Birmingham and Health Education England to train its staff on medical cannabis. Synthetic cannabinoids, developed in laboratories, can also help with difficult-to-treat nausea and spasms, though they can have potent psychological effects3.

Private Medical Cannabis Clinics

Private medical cannabis clinics in the UK provide personalised treatment plans, making it easier for patients to obtain prescriptions compared to the NHS. These clinics often offer more flexible and accessible options, catering to individual needs and conditions.

  1. Personalised Treatment Plans: Private clinics develop customised treatment plans tailored to each patient’s specific needs. This includes comprehensive consultations to understand the patient’s condition and medical history, followed by the formulation of a treatment plan that may include various cannabis products like oils, capsules, and flower.
  2. Accessibility and Convenience: Unlike the NHS, which has stringent criteria and a lengthy process for prescribing medical cannabis, private clinics streamline the process. They offer services such as online eligibility assessments, video consultations, and home delivery of prescriptions. This significantly reduces the waiting time and bureaucratic hurdles for patients.
  3. Expert Medical Supervision: Private clinics employ specialist doctors with extensive experience in medical cannabis treatments. These doctors provide ongoing support, monitor patient progress, and adjust treatment plans as necessary to ensure optimal outcomes. The clinics also offer 24/7 patient support and follow-up appointments to address any concerns.

By offering a more personalised and accessible approach, private medical cannabis clinics play a crucial role in improving the quality of life for patients who may not have found relief with conventional treatments.

Types of Cannabis Oil

Safe Usage and Dosing of Cannabis Oil

Safe usage and correct dosing of cannabis oil are essential to avoid risks. Medical cannabis should be used under the guidance of hospital specialists. Epidyolex, a CBD liquid, is prescribed for specific epilepsy syndromes. Other cannabis-derived products like Nabilone and Sativex are used for chemotherapy-induced nausea and MS-related spasticity, respectively. Consulting with healthcare providers ensures the safe and effective use of cannabis oil2.

Conclusion

Medical cannabis in the UK offers significant benefits for treating severe epilepsy, chronic pain, and MS symptoms. NICE endorses specific cannabis products for these conditions. While obtaining medical cannabis through the NHS remains challenging, the benefits of CBD are clear. Patients and healthcare professionals must adhere to guidelines to ensure safety and efficacy. Ongoing research will further our understanding and usage of medical cannabis354.

Have you visited private medical cannabis clinics in the UK? Consider leaving them a UK medical cannabis review at Cannabis Access Clinics to support the community!

Source Links

  1. https://www.england.nhs.uk/long-read/cannabis-based-products-for-medicinal-use-cbpms/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/medical-cannabis/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7436434/
  4. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/103577/4/Medical_cannabis.pdf
  5. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/barriers-accessing-cannabis-based-products-nhs-prescription.pdf
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