What is the difference between shop-bought and prescribed CBD?

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. In recent years, CBD has soared in popularity, with one in four adults in the UK saying they are willing to try it! We have seen a huge increase in the number of CBD products that are available to buy on the high street whilst prescribed CBD-abundant CBPMs can be accessed by those with a medical cannabis prescription.

Unlike the other primary cannabinoid THC, CBD does not induce psychoactive effects, making it an appealing option for those looking to harness the wellness benefits of cannabis without the associated “high” feeling.

As we mentioned, the range of CBD products available on the high street is now bigger than ever, ranging from CBD gummies, cream, oil and drinks to name a few. However, are these high street products really living up the bold wellness claims they make?

In this blog, we’re showing you the key differences between shop-bought and prescribed CBD, highlighting some of the major limitations of high street products compared to regulated, CBD medicine.

What are the health benefits of CBD? 

CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system and helps regulate various physiological functions. Some of these functions include: 

Pain Relief:

CBD can help relieve chronic pain by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Studies suggest that CBD may be effective in reducing pain associated with conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

CBD exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, which can be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and neuropathic pain.

Benefits of CBD

Relief from Anxiety and Depression:

CBD has shown promise in reducing symptoms of 
anxiety and depression. It interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain which play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions.

Neuroprotective Properties:

Studies suggest that CBD may have 
neuroprotective properties, meaning it could help protect the brain from damage caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. 

Sleep Disorders:

CBD may help improve sleep quality and duration in individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, by reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

How is shop-bought CBD different from prescribed CBD?

Now that we have discussed the various health benefits of CBD, we can explore how shop-bought CBD products differ from prescribed CBD.

Shop-bought CBD is classed as a food supplement only:

Over-the-counter or shop-bought CBD products are classed as a food supplement, adhering to the Novel Food Regulations stipulated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). On the other hand, prescribed CBD is recognised as an official medicine and is subject to the rigorous standards set by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

While brands must ensure that shop-bought CBD aligns with the Novel Food Regulations, it is not obligated to meet the stringent medical standards enforced on prescription CBD. 

High-street CBD products contain no THC content:

For shop-bought CBD products to adhere to legal requirements, they must maintain a THC content of no more than 0.2 percent. Additionally, these products cannot make any medicinal claims. This THC threshold serves as a guarantee that CBD products remain non-psychoactive and are deemed safe for consumption as a general wellness product.

Medical cannabis, on the other hand, can contain both CBD and THC as deemed safe and effective in managing symptoms such as chronic paininsomnia, and chemo-related nausea. 


In-store CBD isn’t regulated for quality:

The quality of shop-bought CBD products can vary significantly. While some reputable companies adhere to strict quality control measures, others may produce products with inconsistent CBD concentrations or contaminants.

Prescribed CBD products are subject to rigorous quality control and testing. Specialist doctors can prescribe specific dosages, ensuring greater consistency and reliability in the product’s effectiveness.


Store-bought CBD dosage isn’t monitored effectively:

It is important to highlight that the effectiveness of CBD is heavily influenced by the dosage. Increasing the quantity does not automatically translate to a better outcome. 

Research examining the use of CBD for anxiety revealed a positive impact at 300mg, whereas there was no noteworthy difference compared to a placebo when the dosage was increased to 600mg.

This highlights the significance of precise dosing especially for serious medical conditions. For individuals addressing specific medical requirements, opting for prescribed CBD under the guidance of specialist professionals may prove more effective.

How can Mamedica help you?

It is important to speak to a specialist doctor, like those at Mamedica, to understand the right medical cannabis treatment for you and your symptoms to help manage your condition and its symptoms effectively.

 Our clinic offers tailored treatments for various conditions in areas such as pain management, psychiatry, neurology, palliative care, and cancer. Discover the conditions we support here.

To find out if medical cannabis could be an option for you, a loved one, or a patient, take our free eligibility test in under 60 seconds.