Comparing different Cannabis Medications in Australia
Do you think cannabis medications would benefit your chronic condition but you are overwhelmed by the various types of cannabis medications available in Australia? You've come to the right place! In this post, we'll discuss the different kinds of cannabis medications available, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of medication, and how to get a prescription for medical cannabis treatments.
We'll also talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each medication, so you and your prescribing doctor can make an informed decision regarding which cannabis medication is best for you. Thanks for reading!
- What is the endocannabinoid system?
- THC - How does it work
- CBD - How does it work
- What is the entourage effect?
- Types of cannabis medications available in Australia
- Medical cannabis vs black market cannabis products
- Cannabis doctors Australia
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1. What is the endocannabinoid system?
Before understanding how CBD and THC affect the body, it is essential to understand the endocannabinoid system and its roles. The endocannabinoid system is found throughout the body and plays a vital role in homeostasis – achieving equilibrium in the body and regulating various hormones and processes. Some people believe that the only way to regulate the endocannabinoid system is with cannabis medications (exogenous cannabinoids). This is wrong! The body produces cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids bind to CB1 receptors in the brain/nervous system and CB2 receptors within the immune system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for helping regulate and maintain the following:
- Memory and learning,
- Reproduction and fertility,
- Inflammation and,
- Immune response.
2. THC - How does it work?
THC (short for Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) mimics the effects of endocannabinoids by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors and producing a range of psychological and physiological effects. THC stimulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure and reward-seeking behaviour. THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system to reduce pain perception and inflammation. THC can stimulate appetite and help relieve nausea. These effects make THC a popular treatment for chronic pain, nausea, and appetite loss.
THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and it is one of more than 120 cannabinoids identified to date.
However, it is essential to note that THC can also produce adverse effects in some people, such as anxiety and paranoia. While some people enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC, others find them unpleasant or even distressing. It's important to remember that everyone reacts differently to cannabis. Hence, it's essential to start with a small dose and increase cannabis medications gradually as needed under the supervision of a doctor.
* All cannabis medications that have more than 2% THC are Schedule 8 Prescription medications in Australia.
3. CBD - How does it work?
Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol) is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the “high” associated with marijuana use. CBD also does not affect the endocannabinoid system in the same way as THC. CBD does not directly bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors; it instead prevents naturally occurring enzymes that bind to these receptors from breaking down, prolonging some of the effects produced by the body's endocannabinoids.
* All CBD medications that have less than 2% THC are Schedule 4 Prescription medications in Australia.
4. What is the entourage effect?
The term "entourage effect" refers to the synergistic relationship between various chemovars (chemical variety) within cannabis plant. This includes cannabinoids like CBD and THC, terpenes, and other flavonoids. Studies have indicated that consuming all of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant (full spectrum) leads to more significant therapeutic benefits than the sum of the cannabinoids in the plant.
The entourage effect also explains why full-spectrum CBD oil can be more effective than CBD isolate. They have indicated that the different compounds in cannabis can help to increase the bioavailability of the cannabinoids, resulting in a more potent and effective treatment.
5. Types of cannabis medications available in Australia
Many types of cannabis medications are now available to patients in Australia. It is important to note that each type of medication is also available with different concentrations and ratios of CBD and THC.
Types of medical cannabis avaliable in Australia include
- Cannabis oil,
- Gummies (new)
- Topical creams,
- Vape cartridges (new),
- Medical marijuana.
Each type of cannabis medication comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some forms are more effective for certain conditions than others. A doctor can determine which type of cannabis medication is right for you. Remember, there is no single best cannabis medication; the best medication for you is the one that works best for your unique situation.
6. Comparing cannabis medications in Australia
There are a few variations in the type of CBD oil :
- CBD Isolate oil - Only contains CBD.
- Broad Spectrum CBD Oil - Contains all other cannabinoids and terpenes but does not have any THC.
- Full spectrum CBD oil - Contains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant, including THC, in small quantities.
Both broad spectrum CBD oil and full spectrum CBD oil benefit from the entourage effect.
Medical CBD oil has become significantly cheaper in Australia over the past year! This has been due to an increase in medications becoming available to Australians.
*Important note - CBD isolate oil is more expensive than full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oil; due to the additional requirements to make CBD isolate. Carrier oils also significantly impact the price.
Cannabis Oil (CBD oil and THC oil)
A combination of CBD and THC oils are very common in Australia. When comparing cannabis oils in Australia, there are four main variables to consider:
The price of CBD and THC oil varies significantly in Australia, and prices can be 5x higher per milligram of the active ingredient between brands. Understanding the concentration is essential in determining which CBD and THC oil offers the best value for money.
Advantages of cannabis oils:
- The effects of cannabis oils last longer than inhaled cannabis medications.
- Reduced stigma when compared to inhaled cannabis medications.
Disadvantages of cannabis oils:
- It takes longer to feel the effects of cannabis oils compared to inhaled cannabis medications.
Orally administered cannabis medications are becoming popular in Australia. These forms of medical cannabis offer a few distinct advantages. The dose is pre-measured, and these medications are easy to administer. Orally administered cannabis medications digest slowly, providing a steady release of medical cannabis into the system over time, compared to inhaled medications. This can be a disadvantage if you seek immediate relief from pain or anxiety. Ultimately, the best way to consume medical cannabis will vary depending on the individual's needs and preferences.
While CBD/THC gummies have recently become available to Australians with a prescription.
- Pre-measured dose, which is easy to take
- Convenient to carry
- Taste (especially the CBD gummies)
- Reduced stigma
- It can take longer to feel the effects of the medication compared to inhaled medications.
Contrary to popular belief, CBD creams are a prescription medication in Australia. For CBD to be legally sold over-the-counter in Australia, one requirement is that it must be orally ingested. Many companies advertising CBD cream are actually selling hemp cream with trace quantities of CBD. A placebo result would be a best-case scenario when using hemp cream.
Creams/lotions have a lower bioavailability than other administration methods, such as smoking or eating as the medication has to bypass the skin barrier; meaning that less of the active ingredient is absorbed.
- Reduced stigma
- Lower bioavailability
- Chance of contaminating others (if you touch them)
- It can get on your clothes,
- Must avoid bathing for a few hours to maximise the results.
Vape cartridges have recently become available to Australian patients with a prescription. Inhaling the medication provides an immediate effect. The cartridges also eliminate some of the preparation required when vaporising medical marijuana, as you don't need to cut and pack the medication. The effects of vaping do not last as long as orally ingested medications, with patients often taking smaller doses administered more frequently (as required).
Types of vape cartridges available in Australia:
- CBD vape (cartridges)
- THC vape (cartridges)
- CBD and THC vape (combination cartridge)
As more CBD vapes and THC vapes become available to Australians with a prescription, comparing the quantity, concentration and price will be essential when choosing the best value-for-money prescription CBD and THC vape cartridges in Australia.
Unfortunately, CBD/THC vape cartridges are unavailable in many cannabis dispensing pharmacies as they are a new medication in Australia.
- Quick to provide therapeutic relief.
- The effects wear off quicker than other administration methods.
- Not readily available in many cannabis dispensing pharmacies yet.
*CBD vape and THC vape cartridges should not be confused with vaporisers used to inhale the cannabis plant. Vape cartridges are pre-filled with a special CBD and/or THC oil for inhalation.
Cannabis Flower (medical marijuana)
There are now many strains of medical marijuana available to Australians with a prescription. The effects from these strains vary significantly based on the chemovars (cannabinoids and terpenes) found within the strain.
The prescribing doctor can recommend specific strains based on its cannabinoid profile.
Differences between strains result from the following
- The concentration of THC,
- The concentration of CBD,
- The concentration of other cannabinoids found within the strain and
- The terpene profile of the strain of marijuana.
We are writing a post exploring the differences between strains of medical cannabis.
- Quick to provide therapeutic relief.
- Stigma associated with the medication.
- Difficult to accurately calculate a dose.
- Effects from the medication are comparatively short.
7. Cannabis Doctors Australia
Cannabis medications are still new in Australia, and many Australian doctors have not learnt about the endocannabinoid system and do not feel comfortable prescribing cannabis medications yet. If you believe you may benefit from cannabis medications, we recommend taking our Free Online Pre-Screening. All of our Chronic therapy online doctors have done additional cannabis training courses for the prescription of cannabis medications.
If your current doctor isn’t sure how to prescribe cannabis medications, we would recommend booking a consultation with one of our Chronic Therapy doctors.
Cannabis medications come in various types, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some forms are more effective for certain conditions than others. One of our doctors can screen you and determine which type of cannabis medication (if any) is right for your condition. Remember, there is no single best cannabis medication; the best medication for you is the one that works best for your unique situation.
Book a consultation with a Chronic Therapy Doctor today to discuss how cannabis might help improve your condition. With our guidance, you can find the perfect form of cannabis medication to suit your needs and you may start feeling better sooner rather than later.
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