Introduction to Natural Therapies

2800 BC is the earliest evidence about the medical use of medicinal cannabis, originating in Central Asia or Western China.

In October 2016, the Australian Government passed legislation to allow for medicinal cannabis-based products to be prescribed to patients by registered healthcare professionals. The laws also allowed for the import of medicinal cannabis products and the growing and production of medicinal cannabis products in Australia.

What are natural therapies?

Medicinal cannabis products are legal, medicines that can be prescribed for patients by their doctor. Medicinal cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant and can be used to treat the symptoms of certain medical conditions, and the side effects of some treatments.

There are different products available to treat different conditions.

The active ingredients in medicinal cannabis are called ‘cannabinoids’. There are between 80 and 100 cannabinoids in medicinal cannabis, and researchers are still investigating how they all work.

At the moment, most products contain the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

How is natural therapy different to cannabis used recreationally?

It’s important to note there’s a difference between medicinal and non-medicinal cannabis. 

For the majority of patients prescribed plant-based therapies, the aim of treatment is to provide relief from these symptoms without causing the psychoactive side effects that can result from too much THC.  

Medicinal cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) who regulate the standards of quality of the production, manufacturing, testing, labelling and sale of medicinal cannabis products. 

Therefore, plant-based products sold outside of dispensaries may not deliver desired results, posing potential dangers due to inadequate manufacturing standards, contamination risks such as mould, bacteria, pesticides, and inconsistent cannabinoid levels. While counterfeit products, often bought online without a prescription, can contain undeclared hazardous ingredients. Using fake or illegal products can put you at serious risk of unpredictable or severe adverse reactions.

Who might benefit from using natural therapies?

There are many potential uses for natural therapies, with new applications being investigated in current clinical studies.

A review by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the USA concluded there was substantial evidence to support the use of cannabinoids in:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting during Chemotherapy
  • Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis.

It also concluded that there was moderate evidence for use of cannabinoids in improving sleep in patients suffering from specific diseases, for example, those with chronic pain.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approves requests for people to be started on natural therapies. Approvals have been given for people who:

  • feel like throwing up (nausea) or throw up (vomiting) after cancer treatment
  • are children who have seizures because of hard to manage epilepsy
  • are at end-of-life 
  • have hard to control cancer pain
  • have hard to treat nerve pain
  • have muscle tightness from conditions such as multiple sclerosis
  • have lost a lot of weight and are unable to eat because of a long-term illness such as cancer.

Find out more helpful information on the TGA website

Astrid is an exception to every rule, naturally.

How are natural therapies taken?

The natural therapies available vary, depending on the symptoms or condition they are designed to treat. The way that one takes them can vary too. The doctor will need to assess the patient’s needs, and make a decision about whether there is an appropriate plant-based therapy.

There are many ways of administering natural therapies, but most commonly prescribed methods are:

  • Swallowed/Ingested (e.g. oils, capsules, gummies, wafers)
    • Pros: easy to take and adjust doses, longer acting effects (6-12 hours)
    • Cons: takes longer to start working (30 mins-2 hours) & can be unpredictable, effects and duration of effect may vary with diet/digestive issues
  • Inhaled (dried flower/herb in vaporiser or oils in vape cartridges)
    • Pros: Quicker and more predictable effect within minutes
    • Cons: Shorter acting (2-4 hours), have to purchase a vaporiser which can add to the cost of treatment, if using flower/herb can take more effort grinding & filling, may not be appropriate for patients with respiratory issues. 

What are the side effects of natural therapies?

Like all prescription medicines, natural therapies can have side effects. These may include:

  • fatigue and sedation
  • vertigo
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • appetite increase or decrease
  • dry mouth
  • diarrhoea
  • convulsions
  • feelings of euphoria (intense happiness) or depression
  • confusion
  • hallucinations or paranoid delusions
  • psychosis or cognitive distortion (having untrue thoughts)

The extent of side effects can vary with the type of medicine and between individuals. When starting any new natural therapy it is important to “start low and go slow” this means working closely with the doctor to slowly increase the dose until symptom relief without experiencing adverse effects.

Although natural therapy may help one condition or symptom, this does not mean it will have benefits for other conditions or individuals, even with the same product and the same dose. There is also limited evidence about how natural therapies interact with other approved medications, therefore it is important to discuss the medical history with the doctor and pharmacist.

Can I drive while using natural therapies?

Patients taking any prescribed natural therapies should seek their doctor’s advice before driving or operating machinery

While drowsiness is not a known side effect of CBD alone, it may occur if the CBD interacts with other medications. 

Some medicines may also include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in which case there are variations in state to state laws regarding driving. In all states except Tasmania it is illegal for patients taking medicines which contain THC to drive. 

Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay, Australia's first female-led cannabis dispensary
Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay, Australia’s first female-led cannabis dispensary

How do I access natural therapies in Australia?

In Australia, there are currently only two medicinal cannabis products that have been listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA):

  • A spray containing THC and CBD. Used to treat spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis
  • A CBD-only oil preparation. Used with other epilepsy drugs to treat severe and rare forms of epilepsy in children aged two years and over.

However, the majority of medicinal cannabis products are not registered medicines in Australia or subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), so they can only be accessed through special pathways available for unapproved medicines.

Patients who don’t meet criteria for the registered products can access unapproved natural therapies with a prescription from a doctor, who must apply for approval to prescribe it under the applicable state or territory laws. Rules relating to plant-based therapies vary between states and territories.

Natural therapies are accessed through these pathways, via import from overseas or some are produced locally. These include raw (botanical) cannabis which may be vaporised for medicinal purposes, as well as oils, liquids and oral sprays. Some products have also been developed for direct application to the skin.

Individual patients cannot apply to the TGA for access to natural therapies.

How much do natural therapies cost?

In Australia, many medicines prescribed by your doctor are subsidised by the Commonwealth Government under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

Unfortunately, only medicines registered with the TGA are eligible to be listed on the PBS. As the vast majority of prescribed natural therapies are currently unregistered, they cannot be subsidised by the PBS.

The cost of prescribed natural therapies varies depending on the type of product and the dose recommended by your doctor. As these products are not subsidised by the PBS, you must fund the cost yourself.

To learn more about natural therapies or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries



Smoking vs Vaporising

Plant-based products vary, depending on the symptoms or condition they are designed to treat. The way that you take them can vary too.

Your doctor will need to assess your needs, and make a decision about whether there is an appropriate product for you.

Here we explore the differences between vaporising and smoking dried herb, and share information on quality use of medicinal cannabis.

What are the benefits and risks? 

Both smoking and vaporisation are methods of inhaling natural-therapies medicine that involve heating of the cannabis flower to create a vapour which is then inhaled. 

When medicinal cannabis is in dried form, the compounds that elicit an effect in humans, or cannabinoids, are inactive. Heating the dried flower at high temperatures by combustion (smoking) or vaporisation results in a process called decarboxylation which transforms the inactive compounds in medicinal cannabis into an active forms, namely into cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Smoked medicinal cannabis results in a rapid onset of action (usually within minutes), higher blood levels of THCand CBD and a shorter duration of effect as compared to ingested cannabis. Peak concentrations are reached within 30 minutes and the effects may last for two to four hours. 

Smoking has traditionally been the most common route of administration for recreational cannabis use, however it was found to have considerable individual variability because of the unknown concentration of THC in the products being consumed. At least 40% of the THC dose in the medicinal cannabis is lost in side stream/combustion when smoked, making it difficult to predict a therapeutic outcome. For this reason, and due to the well-documented evidence that smoking in general is harmful, smoking of medicinal cannabis products is not supported by the current legislation.

Vaporising medicinal cannabis results in a similar rapid absorption and high blood concentrations as smoking it. Medicinal cannabis is heated just at the right temperature, which is considerably lower than smoking temperature, hence combustion does not take place. If there is no combustion, fewer toxins and no side stream “smoke” are produced, making passive exposure less of a problem. First effects occur within 90 seconds and reach a maximum after 15 to 30 minutes, before wearing off after two to four hours. 

Vaporising heats the medicinal cannabis at a lower temperature without burning it and releases the cannabinoids and terpenes in the form of a vapour, which is then inhaled. The terpenes are responsible for the aroma characteristics of cannabis.

Given the rapid onset of action, vaporising medicinal cannabis products might be more suitable for symptoms or conditions where rapid relief is required. The amounts of THC and other cannabinoids delivered by the vaporiser are dependent on the temperature, the duration of the vaporisation and the volume in the vaporiser. 

When new to vaporising or making the change from smoking, starting with a low dose is important. Studies suggest that vapourising medicinal cannabis delivers a higher amount of active ingredients than smoking, which may increase the likelihood of adverse effects.

What are the benefits of vaporisation vs smoking? 

Vaporising prescribed natural-therapies medicines has many benefits. As well as a reduction in exposure to toxins such as tar and carbon monoxide, it is associated with a reduction in respiratory symptoms such as cough, phlegm, and chest tightness and less wastage. Additionally, vapourisation of natural-therapies medicines produces less odour compared to smoking. 

When is vaporisation not recommended?

Whilst vaporisation is considered safer than smoking, there are still risks associated with vaporising and inhaled forms of medicines are not recommended for anyone with known respiratory tract or lung conditions. 

Astrid dispensary Start your plant medicine journey with Astrid today
Start your natural medicine journey with Astrid today.

What temperatures are used to vaporise natural medicines? 

Different cannabinoids and terpenes are released at different temperatures. Many vaporiser devices give you control over the temperature at which the flower is heated. This can result in variations in therapeutic effects. Generally speaking, when vaporising at lower vs. higher temperatures a difference in therapeutic effects may be noticed.

Common practice is to start at lower temperatures and to increase or decrease slowly until optimal therapeutic effect.The ideal temperature may vary depending on the variety of the dried flower or depending on the situation and symptoms, for example some patients may choose lower temperatures during the day and higher temperatures in the evening. Some dried flowers will have a recommended vaporising temperature based on the properties of the medicinal cannabis flower that has been prescribed.

In summary, vaporising and smoking dried herb are two methods of inhaling medicinal cannabis, both involving heating the cannabis flower to create a vapour for inhalation. Smoking results in a rapid onset of action with higher blood levels of cannabinoids but is discouraged due to variable THC concentrations and health risks associated with smoking. Vaporizing offers similar rapid absorption, fewer toxins, and less odour, more cannabinoids, making it a safer option, especially for those needing quick relief, but requires careful temperature control to optimise therapeutic effects and reduce the risk of adverse effects.

There are a variety of ARTG listed medical vaporizers available in Australia that our team of Pharmacists are happy to provide advice on. To learn more about medicinal cannabis or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries.



Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

In the intricate orchestra of our body’s internal systems, like the well-known sympathetic nervous system responsible for our fight-or-flight reactions, there’s a relatively new player on the stage: the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

This complex network of chemical signals and receptors, scattered throughout our brain and body, serves as the maestro of essential functions, from memory and emotions to pain management, sleep, and more. As global research and drug development efforts converge on the ECS, its role in our well-being is gaining remarkable attention.

This understanding of the ECS builds on a history that dates back to 2800 BC when plant-based remedies, including those derived from the cannabis plant, were already being employed to address a wide range of health issues. Our contemporary comprehension of how medicinal cannabis operates within the body has only emerged relatively recently, thanks to our deepening understanding of the endocannabinoid system.

What is the ECS?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) system is a biological system that was identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring the effects of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC), a well-known cannabinoid from cannabis plant.

The ECS is made up of internally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), receptors (cannabinoid receptors)  and enzymes. It is a system that helps regulate and maintain homeostasis (more commonly known as balance) within your body.

Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:

  • sleep
  • mood
  • appetite
  • memory
  • reproduction and fertility

The ECS exists and is always active in your body even if you aren’t a patient using natural-therapies medicines. 


Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules produced in the body. Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:

  • anandamide (AEA)
  • 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)

These help keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what typical levels are for each. Enzymes are responsible for making and breaking down the endocannabinoids in the body.

Endocannabinoid receptors

Endocannabinoids work by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout your body. When endocannabinoids interact with them it signals that the ECS needs to take action.

There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system and brain
  • CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells

Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.

Astrid has dispensaries in Melbourne and Byron Bay
Astrid has two dispensaries in Australia, one in Byron Bay and one in Melbourne.


Enzymes are chemicals that are responsible for making and also breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.

How do natural therapies medicines interact with the ECS?

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids derived from plants. The phytocannabinoids are most concentrated in the glandular trichomes (hairy outgrowths) of the flowering heads of the female plant. There are over 100 phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant as well as hundreds of non cannabinoid compounds.

Phytocannabinoids have a similar chemical structure to our endocannabinoids and can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors to elicit a response and result in the therapeutic effects of natural-therapies medicines. 

The most abundant phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)

THC is responsible for the psychoactive, intoxicating effects of cannabis, whereas CBD is non-psychoactive.

THC and the ECS

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most prevalent phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors and can have psychoactive properties which are associated with some of the side effects of natural medicines such as increased anxiety, slower reaction times and impaired memory when taken too frequently or at too high a dose. It is also associated with beneficial effects, such as pain relief. It may improve cancer-related symptoms like increasing appetite and reducing nausea and vomiting, and improving sleep.  

Astrid dispensary is an exception to every rule, naturally.
Astrid is an exception to every rule, naturally.

CBD and the ECS

The other major cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive/intoxicating and is generally well tolerated.

Experts aren’t completely sure how CBD interacts with the ECS. But they do know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors the way THC does.

While the details of how it works are still under debate, research suggests that CBD can help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.

The ECS consists of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes, which work together to help maintain stability in processes such as temperature, sleep, and mood.

In summary, the ECS is a biological network discovered in the 1990s through THC research. It regulates functions like sleep and mood and consists of endocannabinoids, CB1 and CB2 receptors, and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors, signalling the ECS. Cannabis-derived phytocannabinoids can also bind to these receptors. THC, a common phytocannabinoid, is psychoactive and relieves pain but can cause anxiety and memory issues. CBD, another major cannabinoid, isn’t psychoactive and may help with pain and nausea. The ECS stabilises processes like temperature and mood.

To learn more about natural therapies or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries.




Natural Therapy Dosage Forms

Medicinal cannabis refers to the use of cannabis or its derivatives for therapeutic purposes, primarily to alleviate symptoms or treat various medical conditions.

It contains active compounds like THC and CBD that can impact the body’s endocannabinoid system, with various effects.

There are more than 100 different plant-based products available in Australia which come in many different forms, including oral formulations, topical formulations, inhalations.

Medicinal cannabis products can also be categorised as:

  • Isolate: contains only isolated cannabinoids, only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Full-spectrum: products containing the full range of the constituents of the cannabis plant in different concentrations. Typically, these are high in THC or CBD and have lower levels of the other minor phytocannabinoids. These products will tend to contain THC as they contain all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids.
  • Broad-spectrum: products containing a range of cannabinoids and other cannabis constituents, but with no THC

Plant derived or Synthetic?

Plant-derived products are raw medicinal cannabis plant materials that have been produced in a controlled environment and allow for predictable cannabinoid content. These plants can be dried and cured and supplied as a dried flower. The medicinal compounds in the plant are vaporised by the patient. 

Medicinal cannabis products in the form of dried flower are only prescribed to be vaporised by an ARTG approved vaporiser. These are medical devices that have met with the regulatory requirements of the TGA, they are subject to strict approval assessments but are also monitored closely after they have been approved for supply and included in the  ARTG.

Plant-derived products can also come in the form of liquids (oils or tinctures), which are made by extracting cannabinoids from plant material by exposing it to solvents such ethanol or supercritical carbon dioxide. The liquid is typically taken orally with food.

Other sublingual methods of ingestion such as wafers or gummies also exist and more formulations are under development.

Other extracts are made into gels, lotions, creams or ointments for topical application onto the skin.

Finally, concentrated plant extracts are sometimes put into capsules that are swallowed much like any other medicine. 

Plant-derived products vary in their level of phytocannabinoids. The most important two of these to consider are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Products tend to be formulated which contain mostly THC, mostly CBD or a combination of both. These products typically also contain lesser amounts of the other trace cannabinoids such as Cannabigerols (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA),Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) as well as other plant compounds.

Whole or ‘full-spectrum’ plant extracts are produced in a way that preserves the balance of all the different cannabinoids and terpenoids (other naturally occurring chemical compounds found in all classes of living things) in the plant. Other extracts are filtered and manufactured in a way that maximises the presence of one particular cannabinoid such as CBD.

There is ongoing research to determine if the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD, are improved when maintained in a full-spectrum extract. The ‘entourage effect’ is the notion that the pharmacological effects of cannabis are greater than the sum of individual cannabis chemical components.

Synthetically produced cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are produced in a laboratory using organic chemistry techniques. The THC, CBD and other cannabinoid molecules produced in this way are identical to those found in the plant. They have been registered as medicines with the Food and Drug Administration in the USA since the 1980s.

Astrid Dispensary Nature, Science, Medicine
Nature, Science, Medicine

Oral products:

The majority of natural medicines currently supplied in Australia is in oil form which is taken orally. Other ingested forms include capsules and wafers.

Oils generally take 1-3 hours to start working and the effects can last 6-8 hours and up to 12 hours or longer in some cases. Individual variances in metabolism and food intake can affect the time of onset and duration of effect. 

Oral preparations generally have a slower onset of action and longer duration of effect as compared to inhaled products so may be preferred in circumstances where longer symptom relief is required. 

Capsules containing oil, wafers and oro-mucosal sprays that are sprayed into the mouth, under the tongue are also available.  

Inhaled products:

Dried flowers can be dried and cured to produce a product that can be vaporised using a medical vaporiser to produce a therapeutic effect. Extracts containing purified plant-based extracts are also available for vaporisation. 

Vaporisation is the process of heating natural medicines without burning and the active compounds are released into a vapour which is inhaled.  After inhalation, THC enters the bloodstream quickly through the lung, with the effects achieved within 6 to 10 minutes after inhalation. In general, inhalation has a faster onset and produces a stronger psychoactive effect than ingestion. Effects of inhaled medicines generally last up to 6 hours with some residual effects up to 24 hours later.

Smoking dried medicinal cannabis is not recommended. 

Astrid Dispensary A cannabinoid medicines clinic
Astrid is a boutique pharmacy and clinic that is pioneering in cannabinoid medicines

Topical products: 

Natural medicines in the form of a tincture, lotions, ointment or cream can be used topically. These products are applied directly to the skin and may be used to treat areas of pain and inflammation or a range of skin conditions.

In summary, medicinal cannabis in Australia is available in various forms, including oral formulations, topical applications, and inhalations, with different product categories such as isolates, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum. Plant-derived products offer predictable cannabinoid content and can be vaporised, taken orally, or applied topically, while synthetic cannabinoids like THC and CBD are produced in a lab and registered as medicines. The choice of administration method depends on factors like onset time, duration of effect, and individual preferences.

To learn more about natural therapies medicines or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries


Baratta F, Simiele M, Pignata I, Ravetto Enri L, D’Avolio A, Torta R, De Luca A, Collino M, Brusa P. Cannabis-Based Oral Formulations for Medical Purposes: Preparation, Quality and Stability. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Feb 22;14(2):171. doi: 10.3390/ph14020171. PMID: 33671760; PMCID: PMC7926486.
Vickery AW, Roth S, Ernenwein T, Kennedy J, Washer P. A large Australian longitudinal cohort registry demonstrates sustained safety and efficacy of oral medicinal cannabis for at least two years. PLoS One. 2022 Nov 18;17(11):e0272241. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0272241. PMID: 36399463; PMCID: PMC9674134.
Vandrey R, Herrmann ES, Mitchell JM, Bigelow GE, Flegel R, LoDico C, Cone EJ. Pharmacokinetic Profile of Oral Cannabis in Humans: Blood and Oral Fluid Disposition and Relation to Pharmacodynamic Outcomes. J Anal Toxicol. 2017 Mar 1;41(2):83-99. doi: 10.1093/jat/bkx012. PMID: 28158482; PMCID: PMC5890870.
Chayasirisobhon S. Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacokinetics of Cannabis. Perm J. 2020 Dec;25:1-3. doi: 10.7812/TPP/19.200. PMID: 33635755; PMCID: PMC8803256.
Makhakhe L. Topical cannabidiol (CBD) in skin pathology – A comprehensive review and prospects for new therapeutic opportunities. S Afr Fam Pract (2004). 2022 May 30;64(1):e1-e4. doi: 10.4102/safp.v64i1.5493. PMID: 35695447; PMCID: PMC9210160.

The World of Cannabinoids: Nature’s Medicinal Compounds

The word “cannabinoid” may strike a chord with its association to cannabis, but this term encompasses a vast variety of chemical compounds that interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoids, found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, the human body, and even synthesised in laboratories, hold the key to a myriad of potential health benefits. 

The realm of cannabinoids is a captivating landscape that extends far beyond the well-known THC and CBD, with over 120 minor cannabinoids under scrutiny for their potential therapeutic roles. 

Join us as we explore the world of cannabinoids and look at two primary categories: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.

What is a cannabinoid?  

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found both in nature and in the human body. 

In plants, they’re called phytocannabinoids, and when found naturally occurring in the human body, they’re called endocannabinoids. 

Both have the same effects in the body.

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

The ECS is like a communication system in our body that helps control important things like memory, emotions, pain, and more. 

It has special parts called CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found all over our body’s cells. These receptors help regulate things like hunger, alertness, and body temperature by talking to other parts of our body. Learn more about the endocannabinoid system here.

What are endocannabinoids?

Endocannabinoids are molecules produced in our bodies.

Anandamide, which gets its name from the Sanskrit word “ananda” meaning “joy, bliss, happiness” is one of the endocannabinoids we make.

Endocannabinoids are produced in and released from the body’s tissues and organs in times of stress to bind to cannabinoid receptors and return the body to equilibrium.

What are phytocannabinoids?

Phyto means plant, so think of phytocannabinoids as plant-derived cannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids are found in high quantities in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, but other plants can make them as well. The highest quantity of phytocannabinoids is found on the female cannabis flowers; they are less abundant in the leaves and stems.

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are two most important cannabinoid components in the cannabis plant (but hundred others have been identified). They can be found in variable quantities in different types of cannabis plants. “Strain” is the term used in the cannabis world to refer to a specific type of cannabis plant.

Some examples of other cannabinoids include:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabichromenolic acid (CBCA)
  • Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)
  • Cannabichromevarinolic acid (CBCVA)
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
  • Cannabidivarinolic acid (CBDVA), and
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

The way cannabinoids can help with controlling some symptoms is the subject of ongoing research.

Cannabinoids in cannabis start in an acidic form. When you heat or use special lights on cannabis, these cannabinoids change into a different form by losing a molecule. This change is called decarboxylation.

When people smoke or vaporise cannabis, the heat causes many of these cannabinoids to change into a different form, making them effective. But if you eat cannabis without heating it first, these cannabinoids stay in their original form.

So for example, CBD starts as CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) and THC as THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).

Interior of Astrid Dispensary a plant based therapies clinic in Byron Bay
Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay is located within Habitat Byron Bay


THC, the primary psychoactive/euphoriant element in cannabis, holds the key to both recreation and medicine. This fascinating chemical has captivated scientists and researchers, leading to extensive studies in both animals and humans.

At its core, THC interacts with special receptors in our body known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CB1 receptors are primarily found in our central nervous system—essentially our brain and spinal cord—CB2 receptors are scattered in the peripheral nervous system, immune cells, and various organs. How these receptors function and their pathways within our body have become intriguing puzzles for researchers to unravel.

THC’s story goes beyond mere recreational use. In recent years, it has sparked significant interest among scientists exploring its potential as a medicine. 


CBD, a compound found in cannabis, offers a promising array of effects without the psychoactivity/euphoria associated with THC. Its ability to provide relief from pain, inflammation, nausea, and even seizures, coupled with its calming effects and brain-protective properties, make it a subject of intense research and interest. As scientists continue to uncover its mechanisms and applications, CBD holds significant potential as a natural remedy for various health challenges, paving the way for new possibilities in medical treatments.

Minor Cannabinoids

Apart from the well-known cannabinoids like THC and CBD, cannabis contains more than 120 other cannabinoids, known as minor or rare cannabinoids. These are found in smaller amounts.

We’re still learning about these minor cannabinoids, but studies show they interact with different parts of our body, including CB1 and CB2 receptors, and other pathways. 

Some of the minor cannabinoids being studied include:

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) / Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBGA is a cannabinoid that comes before THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. As the cannabis plant matures, CBGA turns into CBG over time, so it’s not often found in large amounts in mature cannabis flowers. We don’t know as much about the medical uses of CBGA as we do about other cannabinoids, but it might help control diabetes and prevent heart problems linked to Type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed in this area.

CBG is made when CBGA undergoes a process called decarboxylation. Like other minor cannabinoids, CBG might help reduce the intensity of inflammatory diseases and peripheral pain. Its anti-inflammatory effects might happen because it connects with CB2 receptors and other targets in the body.

Cannabichromenolic acid (CBCA) / Cannabichromene (CBC)

Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) is a precursor for CBC (Cannabichromene). CBC was discovered in 1966 and is one of the most common minor cannabinoids found in cannabis. When researchers studied cannabis plants in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, they found that CBC levels varied between 0.05% and 0.3%. In the plant, CBC’s main job is to protect the growing plant from diseases and regulate its growth.

Scientists have found that CBC has potential health benefits in studies done with animals. However, we still don’t fully understand how it works in our bodies and the reasons behind its effects.

Cannabidivarinolic acid (CBDVA) / Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

CBDV is found in certain types of cannabis plants that have a lot of CBD and very little THC. Scientists are looking into whether CBDV could help with problems related to autism, like repetitive behaviours, cognitive challenges and issues with communication and social functioning.

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN, discovered in 1896 from Indian hemp, was the first cannabis compound identified.

Unlike other cannabinoids, CBN isn’t made by the cannabis plant itself. It forms when THC, another compound in cannabis, breaks down due to light or heat exposure, even during proper storage.

Researchers think CBN might help with pain and inflammation. It could also work as an antibacterial and increase appetite. Studies suggest it could treat stubborn bacterial infections like MRSA, making it a potential treatment for serious infections.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

THCV comes from a substance called CBGVA (cannabigerovarin acid), which is one of the building blocks of minor cannabinoids. Studies in mice suggest THCV can lessen inflammation and pain. It’s also being explored as a potential treatment for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, but more research is needed.

In summary, cannabinoids, found in both cannabis plants and the human body, influence our memory, emotions, and pain through the endocannabinoid system. Beyond well-known THC and CBD, there are over 120 minor cannabinoids. Some, like CBG and CBC, might have anti-inflammatory properties. Others like CBN show promise as analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and even antibacterials. Research, especially on compounds like THCV for inflammation and epilepsy, is ongoing, exploring their potential therapeutic uses.

To learn more about cannabinoids or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries.


Flavia Fulvio, Giuseppe Mandolino, Cinzia Citti, Nicola Pecchioni, Giuseppe Cannazza, Roberta Paris, Phytocannabinoids biosynthesis during early stages of development of young Cannabis sativa L. seedlings: Integrating biochemical and transcription data,Phytochemistry, Volume 214, 2023,113793,ISSN 0031-9422, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2023.113793 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031942223002091
Nigro E, Formato M, Crescente G, Daniele A. Cancer Initiation, Progression and Resistance: Are Phytocannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. Promising Compounds? Molecules. 2021 May 2;26(9):2668. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092668. PMID: 34063214; PMCID: PMC8124362.
Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012 Dec;2(6):241-54. doi: 10.1177/2045125312457586. PMID: 23983983; PMCID: PMC3736954.
Ng T, Gupta V, Keshock MC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) [Updated 2023 May 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563174/
Meissner H, Cascella M. Cannabidiol (CBD) [Updated 2023 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556048/
Udoh M, Santiago M, Devenish S, McGregor IS, Connor M. Cannabichromene is a cannabinoid CB2 receptor agonist. Br J Pharmacol. 2019 Dec;176(23):4537-4547. doi: 10.1111/bph.14815. Epub 2019 Nov 21. PMID: 31368508; PMCID: PMC6932936. 
Walsh KB, McKinney AE, Holmes AE. Minor Cannabinoids: Biosynthesis, Molecular Pharmacology and Potential Therapeutic Uses. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Nov 29;12:777804. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.777804. PMID: 34916950; PMCID: PMC8669157.