The term excipient describes anything other than the active pharmaceutical ingredient/s in medicines or medicinal products.

An excipient plays a pivotal role in formulating medicinal products by acting as a carrier or medium for the active pharmaceutical ingredients. In cannabis-based medicines, excipients ensure that the active cannabis compounds can be delivered and absorbed effectively.

This may involve using substances to help stabilize, preserve, and improve the bioavailability of the medication, ensuring effective and safe treatment.


What excipients are commonly used in cannabis-based medicines?


That depends on the type of medical cannabis product, and the desired delivery method.

  • Medical cannabis oil/CBD oil - A carrier oil, such as MCT oil, coconut oil, or olive oil may be used to improve absorption.
  • Medical cannabis capsules - Common excipients include vegetable-based capsules and fillers like microcrystalline cellulose.
  • Topical products (creams, lotions, transdermal patches) - Excipients such as eucalyptus oil, menthol, and aloe vera may be used for their soothing or cooling effects.
  • Edibles (gummies, chocolates) - Excipients like gelatin, corn syrup, chocolate, and sugar are commonly used to create a palatable and consistent product.
  • Dried cannabis flower - No excipients are included.


It's important for medical cannabis patients to be aware of these excipients. In the UK, all cannabis-based medicines must come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which lists all ingredients and their quantities.


Why are excipients important in cannabis-based medicines?

Excipients and additives help improve the delivery and absorption of the therapeutically active cannabinoids and terpenes. Without them, these compounds may not be as effective or readily available for the body to use. Excipients can also help with stability and extend the shelf-life of cannabis-based medicines.

To find out more about excipients, click here

If you would like to learn more about medical cannabis in the UK, Releaf is here to help.