Separation of cannabinoids for clinical use

PrepChrom C-700: Isolation of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from other cannabinoids extracted from cannabis

PrepChrom WordPressThe separation of cannabinoids is an important process which is necessary for clinical studies. The aim of these studies is to investigate the effect of the isolated cannabinoids on patients suffering from chronic illnesses and side effects caused by chemotherapy. The relaxation of laws concerning medical use of cannabis all around the world, especially the United States, has increased the interest in determining the effect of cannabinoids on the human body. Clinical studies require large amount of highly pure separated cannabnnoids. This can easily be achieved with the PrepChrom C-700.


Cannabis is an extremely versatile plant and has been used for many purposes throughout history. Some specific sorts are used for fibers in the textile and paper industry because of their long stems. It is a useful source of foodstuffs, such as hemp oil and seed. Due to the cannabinoids, cannabis is also a popular recreational drug. These substances can cause mental and physical effects when consumed. The impact of the cannabinoids on the human body is of great interest for the pharmaceutical sector. The research emphasis lies in treating the side effects of chemotherapy, inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis or degenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.[3] AI FAME GmbH, a Swiss company, is a pioneering company to extract the plant-based active substances and make them water-soluble for improved, further processing.

Here, we aim to separate three cannabinoids, i.e. cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid in high purity from the extract.


Equipment: PrepChrom C-700

Sample: Water-soluble cannabis extract. Cultivated, extracted and provided by AI FAME GmbH

Preparation: The chromatographic separation is performed with 1 mL of the water-soluble cannabis extract diluted in 1 mL methanol : water (1:1)

Separation: Method parameters
Column:  Sepacore® C-18 80 g
Particle size:  40-63 μm
Flow rate:  40 mL/min
Sample loop:  2 mL
Detection:  253, 270 nm and SCAN 200-600 nm

Gradient: methanol (A) : water(B)
50 % – 90 % methanol (A) in 20 min
90 % – 90 % methanol (A) in 10 min
90 % – 95 % methanol (A) in 5 min
95 % – 95 % methanol (A) in 10 min


Cannabidiol (CBD) bearing a 1,3-diol functional group on its benzene ring, is the first substance to be eluted when applying reversed phase conditions (Figure 1), hence, is the most polar cannabinoid in the sample. The second compound, eluting after 27 minutes, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The last substance to be eluted is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a form of cannabinoid which easily decarboxilates in to THC when exposed to light or heat. Assignment of the signals and identification was done by comparison with reference HPLC data provided by AI FAME GmbH.

Cannabinoide SN finalFigure 1: Methanol : water separation of the extracted cannabinoids using the PrepChrom C-700. Detection at 270 nm, 254 nm, and 200-600 nm SCAN.




The three cannabinoids extracted by AI FAME GmbH could easily be separated and separately collected with the PrepChrom C-700.

The water-solubility of the extract enables the use of aqueous solvents that have inherent economic and ecologic advantages over common organic solvents.

The growing interest in the clinical use of cannabinoids is unbreakable. Furthermore, cannabis is decriminalized and it is allowed to exploit the potential of its valuable substances. BUCHI offers straight forward solutions to separate and purify small to large size batches of the precious extracts.


AI FAME GmbH, Switzerland, is thanked for providing the extract and for the fruitful analytical discussion.


[1] Sutton, IR. Daeniken, P. (2006). Cannabinoids in the management of intractable chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and cancer-related pain. The Journal of Supportive Oncology.

[2] State Medical Marijuana Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures. (16.3.2015).

[3] Kogan, NM. Mechoulam, R. (2007) Cannabinoids in health and disease. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 9(4): 413–430.

>> See additional Application Notes


NEW Product Announcement

BUCHI PrepChrom C-700: bridging the gap between flash chromatography and preparative HPLC

BUCHI introduces the innovative PrepChrom C-700 chromatography system, combining flash chromatography with preparative HPLC. Bridging the gap between them, the C-700 sets a new standard for purification of synthesis mixtures or complex natural extracts.


The space saving and easy to use system allows organic chemists to perform the complete purification process, using the interactive user interface specially designed for preparative chromatography applications.

The high quality pumping system features a quaternary gradient module and delivers accurate flow rates up to 250 mL/min at a pressure up to 100 bar (1450 psi). Any type of flash column as well as preparative HPLC columns with a diameter up to 50 mm filled with silica having a particle size down to 10 µm can be used.

Combining high-end hardware technology together with the software designed for easy purification, the PrepChrom C-700 is the ideal solution to solve any purification bottleneck in the research of new active compounds.

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4th Annual, Advanced Hands-on Spray Drying Course


Dates: Wednesday – Thursday, June 4 – 5, 2014
Location: BUCHI Corporation, 19 Lukens Dr, New Castle, DE
Cost: $2,500.00

This two-day course encompasses both in-depth presentations and hands-on workshops, starting with an overview of laboratory spray drying, followed by a review of current trends in this quickly advancing field, steered by industry leaders.

During this course you will:

  • Review what common excipients are used in spray drying and learn how to choose the best materials for your application
  • Gain an understanding of how parameters and formulation properties impact particle size and yield
  • Receive hands-on experience with a Mini Spray Dryer B-290, a Nano Spray Dryer B-90, and a GEA Niro Mobile Minor™

Who should attend:

  • R&D, formulation scientist, pre-formulation team members and process engineers

Registration closed

BUCHI Launches Campaign to Support the University Market

R3 Promo Banner

As budget cuts are seen in the University market across the US, BUCHI launches a campaign targeted to support these customers:
The Rotavapor R-3,
an entry level Rotavapor,
is being offered at a low price of $1,995.00
until December 31, 2013.

“The R-3 Rotavapor is proving itself as the most efficient rotary evaporator in the academia industry; making this promotion is an unbeatable value. It will provide Universities the ability to supply their students with a high quality, entry level rotary evaporator at a substantial discount.”
Jeff Reid, Evaporation Product Specialist at BUCHI Corporation

As an added benefit to this campaign BUCHI is giving away a Rotavapor R-3 to a University or College every quarter for the remainder of 2013.

To enter your University or College simply complete the electronic form at:

Sepacore Easy Purification Systems: better and faster separation


By: Brigitte Pichon

BUCHI introduces the new Sepacore Easy Purification Systems. These preparative chromatography start-up packages enable the purification required after a chemical synthesis or the extraction of a natural product. As a first step toward automation, they allow to precisely control the flow rate and the eluent composition of the mobile phase. Compared with the use of an open glass column, the Easy Purification Systems enable an improved separation with a decreased purification cost.

The “Easy Synthesis” system featuring a 250 mL/min, 10 bar (145 psi) pumping system offers an ideal configuration for the purification of synthesis mixtures on flash cartridges. Compared with the manual purification, the accurate control of the gradient elution provides an increased resolution and therefore a higher purity of the collected fractions.

The “Easy Extract” system is designed for large sample loading such as natural extracts. For such applications, the 50 bar (725 psi) gradient system is able to feed large glass columns for the purification of several hundred grams of natural extract. Together with a controlled separation process, such a system also allows to significantly reduce the solvent consumption when compared with the manual feeding of the solvents on an open glass column.

Both systems can later on easily be upgraded to a completely automated system including UV and/or ELS detection, fraction collection and flexible computer control.

For more information visit:

Gain great flexibility with an intelligent collection concept


By: Susanne Feifel

When it comes to ultra-trace analysis larger sample amounts are required to reach lower detection limits. Typical examples are ultra-trace analysis of food samples with a demand for representative sample amounts, e.g. food contact materials penetrating into food, or dioxins/furans determined in poly urethane foam being used for air monitoring tasks of living rooms or industrial facilities. Whenever solvent amounts of more than 150 mL per samples are collected, evaporation with the standard 220 or 240 mL collection vessel may be limiting.

With SpeedExtractor’s flexible collection concept you are able to accommodate a selection of different collection vessels which allow for transfer free evaporation and concentration of extracts.


Universal detection with the new ELS Detector C-650


The Evaporative Light Scattering Detector (ELSD) C-650 detects all non-volatile compounds, including those which cannot be detected using UV absorption. It can handle any combination of mobile phases and gradients required for efficient and fast separations. A proprietary flow splitter provides a controlled flow rate to feed the ELSD for any application requiring a flow rate up to 250 mL/min.
When used in parallel with the C-640 UV-Vis Detector, it allows monitoring all the compounds eluting from the column and collecting them accordingly.
Find out more