Nanoformulations as a strategy to overcome the delivery limitations of cannabinoids

Phytother Res. 2023 Apr;37(4):1526-1538. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7742. Epub 2023 Feb 7.


Medical cannabis has received significant interest in recent years due to its promising benefits in the management of pain, anxiety, depression and neurological and movement disorders. Specifically, the major phytocannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant such as (-) trans-Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have been shown to be responsible for the pharmacological and therapeutic properties. Recently, these phytocannabinoids have also attracted special attention in cancer treatment due to their well-known palliative benefits in chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, pain and loss of appetite along with their anticancer activities. Despite the enormous pharmacological benefits, the low aqueous solubility, high instability (susceptibility to extensive first pass metabolism) and poor systemic bioavailability restrict their utilization at clinical perspective. Therefore, drug delivery strategies based on nanotechnology are emerging to improve pharmacokinetic profile and bioavailability of cannabinoids as well as enhance their targeted delivery. Here, we critically review the nano-formulation systems engineered for overcoming the delivery limitations of native phytocannabinoids including polymeric and lipid-based nanoparticles (lipid nano capsules (LNCs), nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs), nanoemulsions (NE) and self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS)), ethosomes and cyclodextrins as well as their therapeutic applications.

Keywords: cannabidiol; cannabinoids; drug delivery; medical cannabis; nanoformulations; tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinoids*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Pain / drug therapy


  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol
  • Lipids