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Celebrate 420 with Astrid: A Journey Through Culture and Patient Care

April 20th, known globally as 4/20, has evolved from an underground gathering to a major cultural event celebrating cannabis culture and its journey towards acceptance alongside medical recognition. 

This day marks not just a celebration but also a reflection on the progress and challenges within the community, especially here in Australia.

The History of 420: From California to Australia

The term 4/20 originated in the 1970s in California, coined by a group called the ‘Waldos’ who would gather at 4:20 pm to enjoy the elusive plant. It gained traction among fans of the Grateful Dead rock band and has since become a symbol of widespread cultural acceptance.

This cultural momentum culminated in 2003 when California state introduced the bill California Senate Bill 420  – “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act”’ where they launched a medical cannabis program and identification cards to be able to support both patients and carers. In 2016, California fully legalised the use, sale and cultivation of recreational cannabis for people over 21. 

This significant legislative move mirrored Australia’s own legal advancements. Over the past decade, Australia has seen remarkable progress towards acceptance, with more than 50% of Australians supporting the legalisation of personal cannabis cultivation. In 2016, the Therapeutics Goods Administration took a monumental step by approving the use of medicinal cannabis for certain treatments. Building on this progress, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed progressive laws in 2020, further legalising personal use and cultivation.

Australia’s cannabis advocacy extends beyond legislation, with communities like Nimbin, NSW, leading the charge since the 1970s. Located just over an hour from the Astrid Byron Bay Dispensary, Nimbin has championed the holistic use of cannabis. The town hosts the annual MardiGrass law reform rally and festival, beginning in 1993 as a peaceful protest against raids and arrests. Additionally, major cities have witnessed significant public events, including picnics, protests, and “Who Are We Hurting” demonstrations.

Now around the world, 420 has always been a day of peace and celebration – a symbol of a happy and healthy community. 

Join Us in Celebrating 420 with Astrid South Yarra, VIC  

This year, Astrid invites the community to delve into the world of alternative medicine and holistic health.

Whether you’re new to plant-based medicine or a seasoned advocate, Astrid is here to support your journey towards wellness.

Our event is more than a gathering; it’s a testament to the power of community, education, and the transformative potential of plant-based therapies.

What’s happening 

  • Connect with the Astrid team and community at one of our favourite events of the year
  • Freebies for everyone (coffee + cookies + merch!)
  • Be in the chance to WIN A $420 PRIZE PACK

Where and when 

  • Date: Saturday 20th April, 2024
  • Time: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm 
  • Location: Astrid Dispensary South Yarra, 575 Chapel St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia

Event partners

Campos Coffee, The Pot Dispensary 

If you can’t attend the event and want to learn more about how plant-based medicines can support your health and well-being, reach out to our friendly team at Astrid. 

Subscribe to the Astrid newsletter to stay up to date with our latest news and events. 

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Understanding Medicinal Cannabis and Driving Laws in Australia

Astrid’s ongoing support and advocacy for our patients. In the evolving landscape of medicinal cannabis, one of the most pressing concerns for patients is how its use intersects with driving laws.

At Astrid, we understand the complexity of these legal and healthcare issues. We are committed to advocating for a fair and informed approach to drug driving regulations.

Since 2020 under the leadership of pharmacist Lisa Nguyen, Astrid has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights and recognition of medicinal cannabis patients. Our mission extends beyond care to championing change, ensuring patients’ who are eligible for treatment are both respected and understood. We aim to address misconceptions and advocate for policies that reflect the reality of this treatment option which is not a cause for discrimination.

Here’s what you need to know about the current Australian drug driving laws, the challenges they pose, and how Astrid is working to support patients and influence change.

Astrid’s Commitment to Our Patients’s Livelihoods 

Our patients are everyday Australians – parents, employees, business owners and leading members of their community. By sharing patient stories and the latest research, we aim to highlight the discrimination and challenges faced under the current drug driving laws and push for necessary changes.

Astrid’s team is at the forefront of both individual and systemic advocacy for patients navigating the challenges of drug driving laws. 

On an individual level, we offer support to patients facing drug driving charges by connecting them with specialised solicitors. When appropriate, we also help share their stories with the media to raise awareness about the impact of current laws.

Systemically, we’re actively engaging with State Governments and key stakeholders to advocate for reform. 

The Challenge of Inconsistent Drug Driving Laws Across Australian States 

Drug driving laws differ significantly across Australian states, creating a patchwork of regulations that can be confusing and challenging for patients. 

Currently, driving with detectable levels of THC is illegal in all states – except Tasmania. 

This inconsistency not only complicates the legal landscape for medicinal cannabis patients but also underscores the need for a more unified and fair approach to drug driving laws nationwide.

The Impact of Research on Future Legislation

Significant research efforts, including those by the Lambert Institute and Dr. Thomas Arkell from Swinburne University, have been focused on understanding the impact of medicinal cannabis on driving abilities. This body of research supports the argument that medicinal cannabis, when used as prescribed, should be considered differently from recreational use in the context of driving laws. 

Decision-makers must recognise medicinal cannabis as a legitimate treatment. Patients deserve the basic human rights to access medicine that improves their quality of life without the fear of legal repercussions.

Learning from International Approaches to Impairment  

Australia approaches drug driving with the goal of detecting THC rather than the impairment of driving abilities. This approach to road-side testing in Australia results in punishments for those with cannabis detected but with the goal of deterring drug driving.

Across the Netherlands, Belgium and France, there are legal limits for THC in oral fluid but typically only request samples when there is evidence of impaired driving. 

In Canada, where cannabis use was fully legalised in 2018, they’ve introduced prohibited THC levels similar to those of alcohol levels. Oral fluid tests such as those used in Australia can be used to confirm a suspected case of drug-impaired driving, but only when a Canadian officer can first demonstrate impaired driving.

These international examples offer valuable lessons for Australia, suggesting that a shift towards impairment-based testing could better balance road safety with the rights of medicinal cannabis patients.

Astrid’s Ongoing Commitment to Advocacy 

As we continue to navigate the complexities of medicinal cannabis regulation and driving laws, Astrid remains dedicated to advocating for our patients’ rights and well-being. 

Our goal is to work towards a legal framework that recognises the needs of medicinal cannabis users, ensuring they can access their treatment without undue fear or discrimination.

For more information on how to navigate the intersection of medicinal cannabis and driving laws, or to learn more about Astrid’s advocacy efforts, contact the expert team at Astrid Dispensary & Clinic.

Together, we can drive change for a more inclusive and understanding approach to medicinal cannabis in Australia.

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Meet our People: Dr Shu Ng, Astrid Clinic Chief Medical Officer

In the evolving landscape of natural healthcare, Dr. Shu Ng shines as a beacon of innovation and compassion.

With a background in medical and surgical specialties, Dr. Shu’s career path has been anything but ordinary. Dr. Shu’s journey has been driven by a passion to explore the potential of medicinal cannabis in managing not just chronic pain and cancer-related symptoms, but also a spectrum of health conditions including mental health issues, women’s health, and neurological disorders.

As an early adopter and authorised prescriber of cannabinoid medicine, Dr. Shu has guided thousands of patients, emphasising the importance of careful titration, vigilant monitoring for potential side effects, and ongoing follow-up alongside advocating its benefits amidst the challenges of stigma and regulatory hurdles.

In this blog, we delve into the world of Dr. Shu Ng, exploring her insights, experiences, and the transformative power of medicinal cannabis through the lens of a practitioner who embodies the future of healthcare—a future where compassion, innovation, and holistic care converge to redefine patient wellness. 

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to become a medicinal cannabis doctor? 

After graduating from Monash University in Melbourne, I have been practising medicine in Australia for 14 years with experience in general medicine, general surgery and oncology. I spent 18 months in New York City and completed a Radiation Oncology research fellowship culminating in four first-author peer-reviewed publications, five co-author peer-reviewed publications and two international conference presentations. I also completed a Master of Public Health through University of Sydney in 2016 and am currently completing a fellowship with the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. 

I remember having my first conversation in 2017 about medicinal cannabis with a patient during my specialist training in radiation oncology. He was using medicinal cannabis to alleviate pain from his metastatic cancer. At that time, I was completely ignorant that medicinal cannabis had been legalised in Australia in 2016, and growing up in Singapore where drug-related offences may be met with the death penalty, I was both conservative and sceptical about what I thought sounded like backyard bush illegal activities. 

In early 2020, I had an opportunity to consult with one of Melbourne’s first medicinal cannabis clinics. It was an incredibly steep learning curve as not only was cannabis medicine not taught as part of medical school curriculum or part of any specialist training, I also had to reframe my own mindset and keep an open and curious mind. 

Four years on after having personally managed over 2,500 patients and witnessed the countless positive outcomes, I have become an advocate for its applications across a wide range of health and wellbeing needs.

In 2023, Lisa Nguyen and I teamed up to spearhead the Clinic support services at Astrid, leading a dedicated team of 40 professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and patient specialists, all committed to guiding our patients on their healthcare and wellness journey.  

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with medicinal cannabis and patients?

Having been a medical doctor working in different medical and surgical specialties in Australia, I have managed patients with a wide variety of conditions and symptoms with conventional medicine. I have never seen any medication work the way that cannabis does for such a multitude of symptoms, and with a comparatively low side effect profile than other medications. It is really rewarding to hear the positive patient feedback on a daily basis and supporting patients when they face challenges or side effects. 

Education is also extremely important at Astrid and I take that role seriously in ensuring that not only are our patients informed about their medicines, but also that our clinic doctors and nurses keep abreast of the latest developments in cannabinoid medicine. There is still a lot of misconception and stigma regarding cannabis, and I have enjoyed being invited to deliver talks and webinars to various healthcare professionals and patient groups about the landscape and potential uses of cannabis medicine in Australia.

What are some misconceptions you come across about medicinal cannabis, and how do you address them with your patients?

One of the most common misconceptions about medicinal cannabis is that it is only available as a last line treatment option, and patients must have tried and failed all sorts of medications before being able to be considered for it. While it should not be first line therapy, and should be considered as part of a holistic medical management, people do not need to wait till they are at their wits’ end before considering access.

While strong and high level research supporting medicinal cannabis may not be substantial (due to years of prohibition and a very complex set of compounds), there is an abundance of other evidence that suggests that the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis can be very real for many.

Another misconception is that medicinal cannabis always leads to psychoactive effects. We educate our patients about the different cannabinoids, like CBD (cannabidiol), or even minor cannabinoids and terpenes which can offer therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). By personalising treatment plans and focusing on the specific needs and concerns of each patient, we demystify medicinal cannabis and highlight its role in holistic health management.

Dr Shu Ng and her team of nurses and doctors at Astrid Clinic

What do you see as the future of medicinal cannabis in Australia, and what developments are you most excited about?

The future of the industry in Australia is incredibly promising. In recent years, we’ve seen astounding growth of new products for patients, and many that extend beyond the major cannabinoids THC and CBD. With the ongoing changes in legislation and the growing body of research, we’re on the cusp of a significant shift in how medicinal cannabis is perceived and utilised within the healthcare system. I’m most excited about the potential for integrating medicinal cannabis into mainstream healthcare, offering patients a natural alternative or adjunct to traditional medications.

We are on the way to a more integrative and holistic approach to medicine. With each year that passes we have increased acceptance and awareness of medicinal cannabis among healthcare professionals and the general public. As we continue to advocate for and educate for cannabinoids as an option, I look forward to seeing it become a staple in patient care transforming lives and improving health outcomes.

What’s next for Astrid Clinic? How would you like to see it grow in the future? 

As we look to the future, Astrid Clinic is poised for transformative growth. Our vision surpasses the existing paradigms, aiming to pioneer new paths in healthcare and wellness. We are committed to innovating and leading in the development of therapeutic practices, setting new standards for patient care and treatment. We envision Astrid becoming a holistic healthcare destination, for anyone interested in integrating natural wellness into their lives. Our growth strategy includes expanding our telehealth services to reach more Australians, regardless of their location, ensuring that access to expert medical advice on plant-based medicines is just a call away. 

Moreover, we’re focusing on research and development, collaborating with industry leaders and academic institutions to advance our understanding of plant-based medicines and their applications. This will not only enhance our service offerings but also contribute to the global body of knowledge in this field.

In essence, Astrid Clinic aims to be at the forefront of the plant-based medicine revolution, offering a comprehensive range of services that cater to the evolving health and wellness needs of our community. We’re committed to fostering an environment of innovation, education, and compassion, ensuring that our patients receive the highest standard of care.

At Astrid, we already provide a range of natural lifestyle products, skincare and self-care at our Dispensary locations in Melbourne and Byron – some that include hemp and terpenes. 

What are some common medical conditions you are treating with natural therapies at Astrid Clinic? 

At Astrid Clinic, we specialise in a holistic approach to health, treating a wide array of conditions with natural therapies. Management of chronic non-cancer pain, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, and insomnia continue to be the most common conditions/symptoms that people seek medicinal cannabis for. Chronic non-cancer pain can be quite a broad category but can include conditions like arthritis, endometriosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, etc. At Astrid, we’re dedicated to the care of our patients and ensure that each one gets personalised healthcare advice tailored to their needs. Often patients we see are likely to have multiple symptoms that may be related to each other. For example, a patient with anxiety may also have secondary insomnia, and vice versa. This patient-centred approach underscores our commitment to improving quality of life through innovative and compassionate care.

What advice do you have for patients who are considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option?

If you are considering natural therapies to treat a condition, speak to your regular doctor or GP about it. Take the Astrid pre-screening questionnaire to find out in a few minutes if you’re eligible.  

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic is now located in both South Yarra, Melbourne VIC and Byron Bay, Northern Rivers NSW, with a new dispensary location set to launch in 2024. 

Learn more here about starting your journey with natural therapies.

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World Sleep Day: Embrace Rest with Natural Therapies

World Sleep Day is a call to action to celebrate and strive for healthy sleep. Between 30-40% of Australians are regularly not getting enough sleep. 

The consequences of poor sleep are far-reaching and there is an undeniable link between sleep and our physical, mental, and cognitive health. 

This blog aims to delve into the significant role of sleep in our lives and how alternative therapies can impact this essential bodily function. 

Join us in understanding how natural remedies can enhance well-being towards a healthier, more balanced life.

Sleep Cycles: What’s Happening When We Sleep

Think of sleep as a nightly mini-vacation for your brain and body, getting you ready for whatever the next day throws at you.

When we hit the sack, we don’t just switch off; we go through different phases, from light napping where someone nudging you could easily wake you up, to a deep snooze that’s all about healing and recharging. For the first half hour or so, you’re in a light sleep zone where your brain starts to chill and your muscles relax, but you’re still on the edge of waking up easily. After this warm-up, you dive into the really good stuff: deep sleep. This is the repair workshop of your sleep cycle, where your brain gets busy sorting memories, making sense of the day’s learning, and even sparking creativity through dreams.

Basically, every night’s sleep is like hitting the reset button, giving your brain and body the downtime they need to sort through emotions, lock in new info, and get you ready for a new day.

Lacking Sleep: What Sleep Deprivation Really Means 

Ever feel like no matter how much coffee you drink, you’re still dragging your feet? That bone-deep tiredness might be more about your z’s than your caffeine intake. From tossing and turning for just one night to the grind of never getting quite enough sleep, there’s a whole spectrum of sleep woes that can leave you feeling fried.

Our daily routines, the stress we carry, and yes, even binge-watching your favourite series late into the night, can all mess with our shut-eye. Recognising these sleep-stealers is step one in taking back your night.

But here’s the kicker: skimping on sleep does more than just make you yawn all day. It sets off a domino effect that can mess with both your body and brain in the short term and down the line. For starters, not getting enough sleep cranks up the odds of serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even packing on extra pounds. It’s like your brain starts to get foggy, too, making it harder to remember things, focus, make decisions, or react quickly.

And it’s not just about feeling physically tired. The emotional hangover from poor sleep is real, leading to crankiness, anxiety, a drop in your body’s germ-fighting powers, and a heavier risk of feeling down in the dumps. Plus, your muscles aren’t as strong, and your coordination takes a hit, making everything from typing to tying your shoes feel like a challenge.

In short, getting enough quality sleep isn’t just about dodging yawns; it’s about keeping your mind sharp, your emotions in check, and your body feeling good.

Not so Restful Sleeping: Sleep Disorders and Insomnia

We’ve all been there – staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m., wondering why sleep seems like a distant dream. It turns out, a lot of us in Australia are in the same sleep-deprived boat. Nearly half of us are wrestling with sleep troubles, and about 1 in 10 Aussies are dealing with insomnia at any given moment. It seems to sneak up more on women and the older crowd.

Insomnia can look like a lot of things: maybe you can’t fall asleep, or you wake up and can’t drift back off, or you’re up way too early. And it’s not just a one-size-fits-all kind of deal; insomnia comes in two main types – the short-term and the long-haul version.

Short-term insomnia could pop up because of stress, travelling across time zones, or even if your bedroom’s too hot or too noisy. Then there’s chronic insomnia, which is when the sleep struggle lasts for months. This could be down to:

  • Primary sleep disorders, including the big-name insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or sleep apnea.
  • Secondary insomnia, which is when another health issue, like asthma or depression, messes with your sleep.
  • Idiopathic insomnia, a fancy way of saying, “We really don’t know why you can’t sleep.”

The world of sleep disorders is wide and complex, showing just how tricky it can be to figure out and fix our sleep troubles.

Astrid Clinic are here to guide you on your journey with natural medicine

Natural Therapies, and Restful Sleep 

When it comes to natural remedies and sleep, CBD (cannabidiol) is a topic that’s catching some interest, but it’s important to approach it with a balanced view. The research on CBD’s effect on sleep is still in its early stages, and while there are some positive signs, a lot more investigation is needed to understand its full impact.

So far, early studies suggest CBD might help some people sleep better by reducing anxiety and stress. This could help quiet the mind and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. There’s also some evidence that CBD could help with pain relief, which might be beneficial for those whose sleep is disrupted by discomfort, leading to potentially fewer wake-ups during the night. CBD seems to interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which has a role in managing our sleep patterns, among other things.

However, it’s crucial to note that these findings come from preliminary research, including a small study where 71% of participants felt their sleep improved with CBD use. Despite this, about 39% of them were able to reduce or stop their sleep medication, and only 21% experienced side effects that were not severe enough to make them stop using CBD.

But here’s the thing: CBD isn’t a cure-all for sleep problems. It should be seen as one option among many, not a replacement for traditional sleep treatments. The need for more research can’t be overstated, as can the importance of talking to healthcare professionals to find the right approach for you.

Pharmacists play a vital role in guiding the use of CBD for sleep, ensuring that it’s used safely and effectively, especially in conjunction with other treatments. This includes monitoring for any potential interactions and helping manage dosages.

Sleep Hygiene: Getting a Good Night’s Rest 

Most people know the basics to getting a good night’s sleep, but it’s good to be reminded that there are things we can do to encourage a restful sleep. 

  • Bedtime routines: Crafting a relaxing bedtime routine that works to support the nervous system to relax. For some people, that involves relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, reading a book, writing in a journal, a skincare routine, or gratitude practice. 
  • Environment: Surroundings have a big impact on feelings so aim to create an environment that encourages sleep – ideally dark, quiet, cool, and free from any overwhelming clutter. 
  • Go tech free: To further promote restful sleep, limit screen time for at least an hour before bed. Regular physical activity is beneficial, but it’s important to avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime. 
  • Relaxation: Managing stress through relaxation techniques and addressing any underlying stressors can help ensure a more peaceful night’s sleep.

Sleep is an important practice for every person so if you know someone struggling with getting restful sleep, encourage them to speak to a health professional to receive dedicated care tailored to your specific needs.

Understanding and compassionately addressing our patients’ wellbeing, which can include sleep disorders, is at the core of our mission at Astrid. We recognise the profound impact these conditions can have on daily life.

At Astrid, we’re dedicated to enhancing our patient’s wellbeing. We believe in the power of education, access, and advocacy in navigating the world of natural therapies. 

Contact the Astrid team for an elevated patient experience through telehealth and discuss the transformative power of natural therapies and the potential impact on sleep.

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Astrid Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day,  a day acknowledging how women’s development and economic empowerment are central to a gender equal world. 

While important progress has been made for women, many still have to overcome obstacles to participate equally within communities. The healthcare industry is one that’s always going through radical changes – and as a team led by incredible women in healthcare at Astrid, we’re excited to see more women leaders use innovation to solve more problems in healthcare. 

The IWD theme for 2024 is Count Her In – investing in women and accelerating progress. 

Below we’ve interviewed some of the women leaders at Astrid who share their first-hand experiences in the industry. Learn from their advice for women stepping into healthcare, what it’s like to work with strong women leaders, challenges they’ve faced, and thoughts on the future of women in healthcare. 

Introducing the women leaders of Astrid

Lisa Nguyen

Founder at Astrid Dispensary & Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Building the Astrid team has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Since day one, I’ve tried to create an environment that fosters innovation, empathy, and a shared commitment to excellence in patient care. To support growth, I think leaders need to create safe and inclusive spaces where every team member feels valued and heard. I’m impressed by each person on our team and I love seeing my team grow – within their roles, personally and sometimes when they leave Astrid.  

My motivation to create a healthy work environment was drawn from the numerous exceptional leaders I’ve met in previous positions and academic settings. They have illuminated the crucial aspects of effective leadership and team nurturing, including valuable lessons – on both the dos and don’ts of guiding a team. This blend of inspiration and constant learning has been pivotal in shaping our approach leadership at Astrid. We place a big emphasis on compassion, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. 

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

My advice is to embrace the journey with patience, passion and dedication. The path involves rigorous study and practical experience, which are both critical in building a solid foundation in healthcare. We’ve got to be continuously learning. 

Healthcare is not just about science; it’s profoundly about people. 

Take every opportunity to learn, engage with diverse teams, and immerse yourself in different aspects of healthcare. The landscape is evolving, and your curiosity and willingness to adapt will be your greatest assets. In my journey from a clinical pharmacist to the founder of Astrid, I tried to seek out hands-on opportunities and those valuable real-world experiences. 

The landscape of healthcare, especially our industry, is ever-evolving. Each person’s contribution can lead to transformative changes in patient care and the broader healthcare system. Staying curious and adaptable is key to making a meaningful impact.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

The next decade promises an exciting evolution for women in healthcare. We’re on the cusp of witnessing an unprecedented increase in female representation across all levels, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles. This shift is not just about numbers; it’s about the diverse perspectives and innovative approaches to longstanding challenges that women bring to the table. 

As healthcare continues to face complex challenges, the insights, empathy, and resilience of women will be instrumental in driving forward-thinking solutions, policy reforms, and patient-centred care. The growth of female-led initiatives, like Astrid, exemplifies the shifting dynamics and the potential for women to shape the future of healthcare, particularly in emerging fields like natural medicines and prevention wellness.

The future will see women not only filling these roles but redefining them, ensuring healthcare is more inclusive, equitable, and effective than ever before.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

My career journey, particularly within our industry sector, has been filled with learning moments and challenges. One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced was navigating the complexities of the medicinal cannabis industry from its infancy in Australia. Engaging with pharmacy staff on the frontlines, advocating for patient access, and destigmatizing use required resilience and adaptability. 

Trusting in my vision for Astrid and aiming high were essential. 

Each obstacle, from funding hurdles to changing public perception, reinforced the belief that perseverance and a patient-centred approach can lead to remarkable outcomes. 

When we first launched, I was the pharmacist on the front-line during the pandemic. Since then, we’ve built bigger strategies and systems at Astrid so our patients can benefit from individualised care. I work hard to inspire our staff to see the transformative power of believing in goals and aspirations. 

Dr Shu Ng

Chief Medical Officer at Astrid Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Being part of a team of women leaders in healthcare is incredibly empowering. It’s been an amazing journey to work so closely with Lisa Nguyen at Astrid. It’s a dynamic environment where quality patient care is the top priority, and there’s a shared understanding of the unique challenges and perspectives we bring to the table. The collective focus on compassion, innovation, and excellence in patient care not only drives positive outcomes but also inspires and motivates me to continually strive for excellence in my own practice.

It’s inspiring to see how others can lead by example, showing that leadership in healthcare is enriched by diversity and a deep commitment to making a difference in patients’ lives. This shared commitment fosters a collaborative and supportive atmosphere, where each leader brings her own strengths and perspectives to the table. 

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

My advice to other women considering a career in healthcare is to follow your curiosity and passion. This field offers a vast array of opportunities to make a significant impact on individual lives and the broader community. 

Embrace the chance to collaborate with various organisations and join member groups; these experiences will enrich your professional journey and expand your network. 

Healthcare is not just about clinical practice; it’s about continuous learning, collaboration, and contributing to the broader community. Your passion and dedication can lead to groundbreaking advancements in patient care and treatment. Seek out experiences that broaden your perspective, deepen your knowledge, and enhance your skills. 

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

In the next decade, I see the role of women in healthcare not only expanding but also becoming more pivotal in shaping the future of medicine. 

As healthcare faces complex challenges and transformations, the diverse perspectives, empathy, and leadership skills that women bring will be crucial in driving innovation, policy, and patient care practices. This shift will not only influence policy and practice but also encourage a more holistic approach to patient care, research, and education. 

I anticipate more women taking on leadership and decision making roles, from clinical settings to healthcare technology and research, further breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive and equitable healthcare system. 

The evolution will be marked by a greater emphasis on collaborative, patient-centred care, with women leading the charge in holistic and compassionate approaches to treatment and wellness.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

One of the most significant learning moments in my career was the realisation of the impact our industry really has on patient care, which led me to pivot my focus and become an advocate for its use in palliative and chronic care. Overcoming the challenges associated with research, patient care, and navigating the complexities of the healthcare system has been incredibly rewarding.

Additionally, before I joined Astrid, I personally managed over 2,500 patients and now with 20,000 patients at Astrid, my journey has taught me the importance of individualised care and the power of resilience and adaptability in medicine. Each patient is unique and we strive to stay up to date with the latest innovations while customising each experience. It can be quite the challenge. 

Kady Chemal

Chief Operating Officer at Astrid Dispensary and Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Women leaders, in my experience, tend to be very collaborative, empathetic, and innovative, which creates a supportive and motivating environment. 

It’s the diversity of thought, resilience, and the unique perspectives that each woman brings to the table that I find most enriching. This synergy not only drives us towards our common goals but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect. 

The strength that comes from embracing diversity is something I deeply value and love about being within Astrid’s remarkable group of leaders. Moreover, as a leader, I am privileged with the humbling responsibility of nurturing the growth of other women, and the profound joy it brings me is beyond words.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

To women considering a career in healthcare, my advice is to embrace your interests and let them guide you. The healthcare industry offers a vast landscape of opportunities, and finding your niche, especially in the range of areas available now, can be both challenging and rewarding. 

The path may not always be straightforward, but your unique perspective and contributions are essential in shaping the future of healthcare. 

Remember, resilience, adaptability and your intuition are your greatest assets.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

In the coming decade, the expanding role of women in healthcare will bring heightened attention to issues that uniquely affect women. As more women assume leadership positions and actively participate in healthcare decision-making, there will be increased focus on addressing women’s health concerns, such as endometriosis.

March, designated as Endometriosis Awareness Month, serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by millions of women worldwide. With greater representation of women in healthcare leadership roles, I anticipate enhanced advocacy efforts, research initiatives, and improved access to care for conditions like endometriosis.

The presence of more women in healthcare leadership positions will not only empower women to take charge of their health, but also will foster a more inclusive and supportive healthcare environment for all.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

This sentiment may resonate with many other women, even those pursuing different career paths- my personal journey involved overcoming deeply ingrained thought patterns inherited from my upbringing. Transitioning from a closed mindset to one of growth demanded intense self-reflection and a confrontation of my own limitations. Though the journey was tough, filled with self-doubt and internal conflict, my determination and commitment to personal development led  me towards a transformative shift in perspective.

Today, I perceive challenges not as obstacles, but as avenues for personal growth and self-improvement. Through this transformation, I’ve learned the invaluable lesson that resilience is an innate quality, cultivated from within. Embracing change and adversity has not only fortified my spirit, it has profoundly enriched my life, infusing every aspect with purpose and meaning.

Olivia Lackman

Senior Nurse Lead at Astrid Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Being a part of a team of women leaders creates an empowering atmosphere that nurtures personal and professional development, which can be transformative for members of the team.

The diversity of perspectives and approaches not only enriches our collective understanding, but also enhances our ability to innovate and lead with empathy.

There’s also mutual support and encouragement that we share. There’s a strong sense of camaraderie among women leaders who are driven by a shared passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives. This support network is invaluable as it not only propels us forward in our careers but also reinforces our commitment to helping others feel their best in their health and wellness journey.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

For women contemplating a career in healthcare, my advice is to embrace your uniqueness and your strengths. Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, and staying informed and skilled is an essential path. To ensure the best chances of long-term success, it’s important to place emphasis on continual learning and skills development. 

It’s helpful to seek out mentors who embody the qualities and achievements you aspire to. These mentors can offer invaluable guidance and support as you navigate your career changes.

Remember that healthcare offers a vast array of opportunities. If one area doesn’t seem like the right fit, don’t be discouraged. There’s a niche for everyone, and finding yours may just require a bit of exploration.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

Over the next decade, I anticipate significant shifts in the role of women in healthcare. There will likely be a greater emphasis on achieving work-life balance, with more support systems in place to help women navigate the demands of their professional and personal lives. 

Additionally, I expect to see an increase in women’s representation in leadership positions, reflecting a broader trend towards gender equality in the workplace. Astrid is already leading by example in this regard. 

Another exciting development will be the growing advocacy for women’s health issues. As awareness increases, we’ll see more tailored approaches to addressing these concerns, ensuring that healthcare becomes more inclusive and responsive to the needs of women.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

My career journey has been filled with learning moments and challenges, each offering valuable lessons. In a demanding field like healthcare, taking care of oneself is essential to sustainably caring for others. Also balancing career aspirations with family and personal commitments has taught me the importance of setting priorities and boundaries. I’ve learned to recognise the importance of self-care and self-preservation for the long-term – and I try to encourage all healthcare professionals to take care of themselves too. 

Embracing failure as a learning opportunity has also been transformative. Failures are not setbacks but stepping stones to greater understanding and resilience. 

To start your journey with natural medicine, complete our free pre-screening questionnaire here or follow us on Instagram for more @astrid.dispensary

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Endometriosis Awareness Month: The Role of Natural Therapies

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, shedding light on a condition affecting almost 1 million women in Australia – that’s around 1 in 7 women. 

Endometriosis, often a silent yet profound disruptor in the lives of those it touches, warrants attention – not only for its prevalence – but also for the potential relief that unconventional treatments like natural therapies might offer.

Symptoms can occur as early as eight years old and it takes a long time for patients to acquire a diagnosis in Australia and around the world.

Learn more about endometriosis below and how natural therapies play a role in its management.  

Understanding Endometriosis: A Journey of Resilience

When someone has endometriosis, it means that some of their tissue resembling the womb lining ventures beyond its usual boundaries and often spreads to unexpected corners of the body. This is the reality of endometriosis—a disorder not confined to reproductive organs but capable of infiltrating areas as diverse as the bowel, bladder, and even the skin and brain. 

Endometriosis symptoms are diverse and often misunderstood and with an average timeline of diagnosis is 6.5 years in Australia. Six and a half years is also the world average diagnosis length – but there is a wide spectrum across the world with only a 0.5-year delay in Brazil and an incredible 27-year delay in the UK.

Endometriosis in Everyday Life: Pain Management & Symptoms  

For many, the persistent pelvic pain, especially around menstruation, becomes an unwelcome companion, disrupting daily activities and casting shadows over hopes for fertility.

For others, endometriosis symptoms include abdominal pain, pain during or after sex, pain going to the toilet, irregular bleeding, changes in toilet habits, and not being able to get pregnant (infertility). 

The journey to understand endometriosis, seek diagnosis and manage symptoms is a long one. Often it can be the related emotional and mental stress of managing symptoms and seeking the best individual healthcare support that can be the most overwhelming for patients. 

Embracing Natural Therapies: A Path to Empowerment

In the quest for relief, patients and healthcare providers alike are exploring unconventional treatments, and among them, medicinal cannabis stands out. While the research is ongoing and it might not be suitable for everyone, there is growing evidence suggesting its potential in alleviating symptoms associated with endometriosis. 

The cannabis plant, with its compounds like CBD and THC, has been noted for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which could offer respite from the debilitating pain and inflammation characteristic of the condition.

  • In one study which included several hundred people with endometriosis across Australia and New Zealand, participants self-reported to using cannabis to manage symptoms – whether using a prescription or not. 
  • A worldwide survey study with a 1634  participants managing endometriosis showed that 55% of respondents with endometriosis used cannabis specifically for symptom management onlyAnother study showed how cannabis appeared to  be effective for endometriosis associated pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues and mood, with effectiveness differing based on method of ingestion. 
  • Another survey showed that approximately 1 in 10 women with endometriosis self-managed their symptoms with cannabis. Self-reported effectiveness in pain reduction was high (7.6 of 10), with 56% also able to reduce pharmaceutical medications by at least half. Women reported the greatest improvements in sleep and in nausea and vomiting. Adverse effects were infrequent (10%) and minor.. Management strategies should be personalised for the individual and with some reported to include “heat packs (70%), dietary changes (44%), exercise (42%), yoga or pilates (35%) and cannabis (13%).”
The Astrid Clinic team ready to guide you on your journey with natural medicine
Astrid Clinic are here to guide you on your journey with natural medicine

Looking Ahead: Collaborating for Change around Endometriosis 

As Endometriosis Awareness Month unfolds, it becomes imperative to foster collaboration among patients, healthcare providers, and advocates. 

Organisations such as Endometriosis Australia play a pivotal role in raising awareness, driving research, and advocating for improved understanding and care. 

Initiatives like the EndoCannED study underscore the importance of exploring novel interventions like medicinal cannabis, providing hope to those seeking relief from the burdens imposed by endometriosis.

Joining the Movement: A Call to Action for Endometriosis 

For individuals living with endometriosis, there’s a palpable sense of solidarity and support permeating the atmosphere this March. 

If you’re over 20 and living with endometriosis in Victoria, you have a unique opportunity to participate in the EndoCannED study

In Sydney, the Endo Australia has organised a high tea with inspirational speakers who are paving the way in women’s health and advocacy. 

There are many other local and national groups to join if someone wants to participate and advocate for people living with endometriosis. Management apps like Qendo allow Australians to track their symptoms and record how they’re managing their endometriosis.

Endometriosis Awareness Month serves as a reminder of natural therapies as an option in managing complex conditions like endometriosis. 

Through collaboration, advocacy, and research, we can transform the landscape of endometriosis care, offering hope and empowerment to those affected. 

If you are  interested in learning more about natural therapies and endometriosis, book a free call with one of our Astrid nurses here. The Astrid healthcare team are experts in supporting patients through each individual’s wide ranging health and wellness journey. 

References:
https://www.nicm.edu.au/research/clinical_trials/endocanned_study
https://endometriosisaustralia.org/sydney-endometriosis-australia-high-tea-2024/
https://pure.york.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/understanding-diagnostic-delay-for-endometriosis-a-scoping-review
https://www.qendo.org.au/qendo-app
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34978929/
https://pure.york.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/understanding-diagnostic-delay-for-endometriosis-a-scoping-review
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Meet Our People: Lisa Nguyen, Founder and Australian trained pharmacist

Have you ever wondered how Astrid came to be and the brains behind it all? Meet Lisa Nguyen, Astrid’s founder and Australian trained pharmacist.

Lisa gained extensive experience early on in the medicinal cannabis industry as a Clinical Pharmacist and a Medical Science Liaison.

As an early adopter in the Australian Medicinal Cannabis sector; her journey in the pharmaceutical cannabis space commenced shortly after legalisation. Lisa worked with early prescribing doctors to navigate the complex regulatory prescribing process in various therapeutic areas. 

In 2020, Lisa left the corporate cannabis world and founded Astrid – Australia’s first boutique female-led dispensary specialising in medicinal cannabis.

Lisa’s vision for Astrid has always been completely people and patient focused; with the dispensary design intent for removing the stigma associated with cannabis. Subverting clinical and cold perceptions of the traditional pharmacy model, Astrid is illustrative of the wider conversation that is needed in destigmatising cannabis. 

Since then, Astrid has transformed and grown into Australia’s leading and multi-award winning dispensary, taking the title of numerous awards including Cannabiz Dispensary Of The Year in 2021/2023, Cannabiz Company of the Year 2023. Melbourne Design Awards in 2021, Top 20 Australian Retailer of the Year 2022 and short listed in the Idea Awards in 2022. 

Lisa and her team at Astrid Dispensary and Clinic

As a visionary, Lisa believes in leading and innovating with empathy. This is seen in every touch point of the Astrid brand – Astrid’s reputation for patient care, compassion, empathy are unparalleled. As such, in 2023, Commonwealth Bank awarded her with the CommBank Young Hero award, recognising her as Rising Star of the Year for her innovative and transformative work with Astrid.

Lisa was also recognised by the Australian Journal of Pharmacy as Australia’s Top 20 Pharmacists, recognising her as Australia’s most Trailblazing Pharmacist. Since then, Astrid has been recognised by numerous mainstream media, including Forbes Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald and Labible. 

Outside of Astrid, Lisa is passionate about cannabinoid education and research. She has worked with global and local organisations to help create educational content for pharmacists, including The Pharmacy Guild, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia,  Australian Journal for Pharmacists, and The Lambert Institute and Sydney University. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic is now located in both South Yarra, Melbourne VIC and Byron Bay, Northern Rivers NSW, with a new dispensary location set to launch in 2024. 

Learn more here about starting your journey with natural medicine

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Astrid’s Stance on Legalising Cannabis in Australia

Australia is currently navigating the complexities of legalising and decriminalising cannabis. We are encouraged by this shift and advocate for public health to be a central focus in these discussions.

The following blog discusses Astrid’s submission on the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023

At Astrid, we are dedicated to exceptional patient care with a focus on education, support, compliance, advocacy, and transparency.

As a company that is primarily led by pharmacists, we value patient safety in both the medical and adult use of cannabis frameworks.

Read more below about Astrid’s stance on the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023. 

The Evolving Attitude towards Legalisation of Cannabis in Australia

Australia is witnessing diverse approaches to the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis. We view this trend positively, emphasising the paramount importance of public health in all discussions related to cannabis legalisation in our country. This is positive and public health promotion should be at the heart of all discussions around the legalisation of cannabis in Australia. 

There is an increased use of cannabis and widespread public support for changing legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Recent trends show a significant increase in cannabis use and public support for legislative changes. A new survey showed that 50% of Australians support the legalisation of growing plants at home (Vice and YouGov).

Between 2016 and 2019, both lifetime and recent cannabis use increased significantly. In 2019, 36% of Australians (7.6 million people) had used it in their lifetime, and 11.6% had used it in the last 12 months, up from 10.4% (Aus Gov). 

Astrid Dispensary recognises the evolving perspective of the Australian community on cannabis. Our commitment lies in establishing a framework that enhances public safety amidst these changing attitudes.

Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023

Astrid’s Key Three Recommendations for the Legalising Cannabis Bill

1. Labelling and Regulation 

We agree with the creation of a Cannabis Australian National Agency (CANA) that will determine the packaging, labelling and storage requirements for cannabis products. Reasonable steps must be considered for licence holders who are manufacturing products, ie. surveillance, security measures and records management.

We seek further clarity within the Bill and the role of CANA in regulating cannabis products. 

2. Guidelines for Patient Safety in Products 

Further to the manufacturing of cannabis products, we seek clarity around the supply of cannabis products. We strongly urge for the Government to establish guidelines around the supply of cannabis (ie. monthly limits, and incorporate potency levels for THC), to ensure patient safety. 

3. Responsible Service Rules

In reference to Clause 29 and conditions for licences – general, and the Responsible Service of Cannabis, we urge for clarity around the rules of “Responsible Service of Cannabis.” 

Training should be mandatory for any personnel that is selling and/or providing information on cannabis within an adult use framework. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic is dedicating to supporting patients with medicinal cannabis in Australia

Five Further Recommendations from Astrid

Public Health Education

We encourage the consideration of a public health promotion campaign funded by the Federal Government so that the general public is informed and educated on the potential health risks and consequences associated with the use of cannabis, particularly young people. 

Advisory Committee

Other than the establishment of CANA, we strongly encourage the Government to consider an Advisory Committee that will provide advice on the development of the Bill and plan to allow an adult use framework in Australia. 

Drug Driving Laws

We recommend for drug driving laws to be amended across all states and territories and to ensure that best measures are considered with a standard of measuring impairment from cannabis.

Health Services Support 

We ask for the Federal Government to ensure that access to health and social services are improved to address any issues associated with cannabis use. It’s crucial to have access to reliable resources and support services for individuals dealing with challenges related to their usage. 

Controls for Products 

We recommend for controls to be put in place around the potency and content of cannabis products. We want to ensure all products are safe for patients and limits are controlled.  

Looking to the future: Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023

Astrid sees the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 as a progressive step forward in drug law reform for Australia, in allowing adult personal use of cannabis. This shift provides opportunities for job creation, fostering a strong local industry, and reducing the prevalence of the illicit market. 

At Astrid, we strongly support an adult cannabis framework prioritising safety, harm reduction, and consumer health. 

Everything we do at Astrid, we do it with our patient’s care in mind. 

Questions about Astrid or natural medicines? Contact us or visit our dispensaries for dedicated care and assistance.

References
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s1353
https://www.vice.com/en/article/4a3pm9/half-australians-support-decriminalising-cannabis
https://au.yougov.com/politics/articles/48246-australians-would-support-a-bill-that-legalises-cannabis
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia/contents/drug-types/cannabis
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Astrid’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

6 Heartwarming Gift Ideas to Surprise Your Valentine

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’ve got a list of the perfect gifts to shower your loved one with affection. Astrid has you covered! 

At Astrid, we support patients with natural medicine journeys and we provide a range of wellness products including natural skincare, lifestyle essentials, supplements, and exclusive Astrid merch. 

With February 14th on the horizon, let’s dive into a bouquet of gifts that bloom with health and wellness.

Both in-store and via phone, Astrid offers a variety of gifts tailored to those who value the connection between love and wellbeing. 

Below we’ve handpicked a selection of seven gifts that your loved one will appreciate as they nurture the body and heart. 

All gifts can be purchased in-store at Astrid Byron Bay or Astrid South Yarra, via phone (03) 9077 2446 or Instagram DM @astrid.dispensary

1. Astrid Ceramic Herb Grinder

A grinder is often the first tool acquired by many people accessing medicinal flowers. 

Astrid created a grinder that delivers a consistent and smooth grind, enhancing the natural flavours and aromas of your dry flower. Its sleek and compact design ensures it’s a perfect fit for use both home and on-the-go. 

In our signature green and smooth design, the Astrid grinder makes every session a luxurious experience.

We’ve had feedback from some of our patients that it’s the best grinder they’ve ever used!

2. Storz & Bickel Vapormed – Mighty Medic & Volcano Vaporisers 

If your partner uses natural medicines and doesn’t have a vaporiser yet, this could be the perfect Valentine’s gift for them.

Designed for precision, performance, and medical-grade reliability, the Storz & Bickel vaporisers are world-renowned and offer unparalleled efficiency and a pure, clean vaporising experience. 

The Mighty Medic is Australia’s first portable medical vaporiser included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG 319028). 

Astrid proudly offers not just the Storz & Bickel Mighty Medic, but also its upgraded version, the Mighty Medic Plus, along with the iconic Storz & Bickel Volcano desktop device.

With its rechargeable battery, the Mighty Medic is portable which allows the freedom to administer your dose with love and precision wherever you go. 

Meanwhile, the Volcano, a masterpiece designed to stay at home as a desktop device, heats your flower with a blend of convection and conduction, ensuring a rich and clean vapour experience. Its innovative balloon system captures vapour for later, offering a perfect blend of dosage control and convenience.

Please note: This device is intended only for vaporisation of medicinal cannabis flowers, as prescribed by your doctor, for your medical condition.

3. Astrid Beanie 

Wrap your loved one in the warmth and style of Astrid’s exclusive apparel. 

Crafted for comfort and a snug fit that promises to stay put throughout the day, these Beanies are more than just a winter accessory; they’re a statement of belonging. 

Designed in the chic fisherman style with a cuffed hem, our Beanies strike the perfect balance between trendy and timeless. 

They feature a midweight design complemented by a wide, ribbed knit, ensuring both warmth and comfort during the chillier days. 

What sets our Beanies apart is the signature Astrid green colour—a nod to our brand’s identity and a vibrant addition to any outfit. Whether you’re out on a casual walk or meeting friends, our Beanie adds a touch of something special, making it the perfect accessory for those who appreciate style and substance. 

Woven from 100% acrylic, our beanies are designed with durability and comfort in mind with our one-size-fits-most sizing. Let the Astrid beanie be a reminder of your care and affection, keeping your loved ones cosy and stylish on cold days.

4. Weed is a Flower Book 

Step into a world where nature’s artistry meets mindful appreciation with “A Weed is a Flower,” a mesmerising 168-page hardcover photo book. This volume is a tribute to the natural allure of the cannabis plant, presented through enchanting floral arrangements that will captivate your senses.

This collection brings together breathtaking photographs from the pages of Broccoli Magazine, curated from the works of over 25 creative photographers and floral artists from around the globe.

The book’s captivating images showcase the charm and versatility of the plant, capturing its essence and reflecting the myriad reasons we’re drawn to it: its inherent beauty, the tranquillity it offers, the joy and amusement it brings, and its unique ability to transport us to a state of blissful escapism.

The title of Broccoli’s latest masterpiece, “A Weed is a Flower,” is inspired by a poignant quote from poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1911: “A weed is but an unloved flower.” This title encapsulates the book’s essence, challenging perceptions and inviting readers to see the flower in a new light. The publication aims to shift perspectives and shine a new light on the plant, celebrating its role not merely as a plant but as a cherished part of the natural world.

The book is an invitation to explore the multifaceted personality of natural medicines, celebrating its place not just in our lives but in the broader tapestry of nature. 

This book is a substantial, tactile experience, perfect for gifting or displaying on a coffee table. 

5. Bloom Effects – The Royal Tulip Nectar

Discover the petal-powered magic of Bloom Effects, a skincare line we absolutely love. At the heart of this women-led beacon of innovation in skincare, is a deep reverence for the humble tulip bulb, which inspires their entire product range. Embracing the clean beauty ethos, Bloom Effects champions ethically-sourced, cruelty-free formulations, meticulously crafted to pamper your skin while protecting our planet.

The Bloom Effects Royal Tulip Nectar is a transformative ointment-to-serum hydrator that envelops your skin in layers of lush moisture. Infused with their exclusive Dutch Tulip Complex and a blend of earth-derived botanicals, it’s a concoction that calms, nourishes, and fortifies your skin’s barrier with every application.

It contains Bloom Effect’s proprietary Dutch Tulip Complex, as well as a variety of earth-sourced botanicals, which work together to soothe, nourish, and repair your skin’s barrier. 

You can apply it anywhere your skin needs extra care to get the benefits of this hydrator. Try it as a moisturising sleep mask—you’ll wake up with skin fit for a queen.

6. Posie Candles

A candle is a much loved gift, and it’s no different for those who visit the Astrid Dispensary. Patients love coming into Astrid in Melbourne and Byron to smell what candle we’re burning each day. 

Astrid stocks a range of Posie candles that have an enchanting fragrance. Whether your preference leans towards the refreshing essence of floral bouquets, the zest of fruity notes, or the grounding aroma of woody scents, we have something to enchant every nose.

Crafted from 100% natural soy wax, each candle is nestled within a striking amber glass jar, sealed with an elegant aluminium screw top lid, ensuring the fragrance remains as fresh as nature intended. 

The ingredients include 100% natural soy wax with a blend of premium grade, phthalate-free fragrance oils, essential oils, and a natural fibre waxed cotton wick that promises a clean, enduring burn.

Proudly handmade in Australia, Posie’s soy candles represent the pinnacle of sustainable luxury. They’re not just candles; they’re an experience, making them the perfect sensory Valentine’s Day present for someone special. 

Choose Wellness Presents that Suits your Partner

As Valentine’s Day approaches, remember that meaningful gifts are those that touch the heart and nurture the well-being of your significant other.

At Astrid in Melbourne and Byron, we’ve carefully selected a range of products that promise not just to delight but to offer a shared experience of wellness and love – and we ship all around Australia. 

Whether you’re well-versed in the world of natural remedies or just beginning to explore their myriad benefits, our dedicated team stands ready to assist you in choosing the perfect gift.

Make this Valentine’s Day a memorable fusion of love and health. Reach out to us now to find the ideal present that encapsulates both care and joy.

Love is in the air, and wellness is at your fingertips with Astrid. 

Contact us now to make your purchase and give the gift of health and happiness this Valentine’s Day.

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World Cancer Day: How CBD Can Play a Role in Cancer Treatment

World Cancer Day has been observed globally every February 4th since 2000. World Cancer Day serves as a pivotal occasion to amplify awareness and collective efforts in the fight against cancer.

Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), this day unites people worldwide in the fight against cancer, focusing on prevention, detection, and treatment.

The 2024 theme, Close The Care Gap shines light on the universal right to cancer care, emphasising the need for accessible treatment for all. Close The Care Gap encourages each one of us to do what actions we can – big or small – to support people with cancer and support more research.

On this day, it’s crucial to not only acknowledge the challenges posed by cancer but also to explore innovative approaches to its management. 

In essence, World Cancer Day becomes a platform not only to spotlight the complexities of cancer but also to integrate discussions on potential therapies like cannabinoids and the indispensable support provided by organisations like Astrid. Together, these elements foster a more informed, empathetic, and collaborative approach to addressing the multifaceted aspects of cancer on a global scale.

At Astrid, we aim to support our patients with their wellness and medical needs everyday. We’re a team of pharmacists, doctors, nurses and technicians passionate about what cannabinoids and natural medicines can do for our health. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic in South Yarra

What is Cancer’s Impact in Australia?

Cancer significantly affects many lives around the world and within the Australian community. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. In Australia, there were an estimated 160,000 diagnoses of cancer in 2022 – an estimated 0.5% of the population.

Each type of cancer presents its unique challenges and requires a tailored approach to treatment and care. 

Ten of the most common types of cancer in Australia – with the top five cancers accounting for 60% of all cancers in Australia: 

  1. Prostate Cancer 
  2. Breast Cancer 
  3. Melanoma of the Skin 
  4. Colorectal Cancer 
  5. Lung Cancer 
  6. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 
  7. Kidney Cancer 
  8. Pancreatic Cancer 
  9. Thyroid Cancer 
  10. Uterine Cancer

Living with cancer requires immense strength and resilience. The journey is often arduous, and the support of friends, family, workplaces, and the wider community becomes invaluable. For anyone concerned about their health or that of someone close to them, seeking advice from healthcare professionals is strongly advised. Recognising symptoms early and receiving informed care are essential steps in effectively managing the challenges of this journey.

What is the Role of Natural Therapists in Cancer Treatment?

In the realm of cancer treatment and care, natural therapies and cannabidiol (CBD) have emerged as a beacon of hope. 

Cannabis, with its potential therapeutic properties, adds a distinctive layer to the World Cancer Day discussions. This is where Astrid comes into focus, offering a range of dedicated services to assist individuals through their cancer journey. 

Ongoing research highlights its role in symptom relief, making it an essential component in the broader conversation about cancer treatment and care. 

As we commemorate World Cancer Day, it becomes an opportune moment to educate the public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about the nuanced aspects of cannabis in the context of cancer support. In tandem with discussions on cannabis, World Cancer Day can also underscore the importance of comprehensive support services for cancer patients. 

Bodies are equipped with several intricate systems that are essential for regulating health and everyday functions. Among these systems is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vital system that plays a key role in maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within the body. The ECS is important as it has a wide ranging influence over various aspects of our well-being, including mood, memory, inflammation, hormone regulation, as well as appetite and metabolism. 

The ECS system functions through endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by the body. These endocannabinoids travel between cells, binding to cannabinoid receptors located in cell membranes. This interaction between endocannabinoids and receptors triggers various physiological responses, contributing to the body’s overall balance and health. 

In relation to the ECS, CBD (cannabidiol) emerges as a significant compound. It is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, alongside Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is known for its psychoactive properties. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Its interaction with the ECS, though not direct, influences the system in a way that may enhance the body’s use of its own endocannabinoids. This unique way that CBD interacts with the ECS has made people interested in its ability to help with symptoms of different health issues, including cancer. 

CBD may play a role in improving quality of life for patients, and especially for patients with cancer, as CBD can help with: 

  • Symptom relief: CBD may help manage common side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea and vomiting.
  • Pain management: CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory properties may help to alleviate cancer-related symptoms or pain and reduce reliance on opioids.
  • Improved sleep: Disrupted sleep is common among cancer patients. CBD’s calming effects may promote better sleep quality.
  • Mental health support: The psychological stress of a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming so CBD’s potential to ease anxiety and depression in some people may offer valuable support.

Definitive research is still emerging but there is growing recognition of cannabis and CBD’s potential in cancer management and treatments.

Australia has been a leader in some of the recent CBD research. 

  • A study in Sydney found that oral THC:CBD could improve life quality for chemotherapy patients by reducing nausea and vomiting (in comparison to standard nausea medications), with manageable side effects like sedation and dizziness. And the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved cannabinoid drugs for chemotherapy patients who don’t respond to standard anti-nausea medications.
  • More recent research also indicates that modified forms of medicinal cannabis (with low THC content) can potentially target cancer cells without harming normal cells.

Can a Healthy Lifestyle Help Prevent Cancer?

When managing cancer, it’s important for patients to identify treatment options that align with their needs and accessibility to them. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for good wellbeing and illness prevention – and what a healthy lifestyle is can be different for different people. 

More than 40% of cancer-related deaths could be prevented through decreasing risks such as smoking, drinking alcohol, having a poor diet and lack of physical activity. 

At Astrid, we value considering each patient individually as each one of us is unique and we all have different endocannabinoid systems. We want to empower our patients to reach their full potential and we are looking forward to seeing more innovative treatments with cannabinoids offer new hope to those battling cancer. 

By promoting awareness about Astrid’s resources and support networks on Cancer Day, we contribute to a more holistic understanding of the challenges associated with cancer, emphasising the need for both medical innovation and compassionate care.

This World Cancer Day, we’re recommitting to closing the care gap and giving more support for advancements in cancer care and research.

If you have questions about natural therapies, contact the Astrid team.

References:
https://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/featured/tests-show-potential-for-medicinal-cannabis-to-kill-cancer-cells

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/12/4/1033

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/

https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/resource/guidance/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-treatment-palliative-care-patients-australia#references

https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/impacted-cancer/what-cancer/cancer-australia-statistics
https://ncci.canceraustralia.gov.au/diagnosis/cancer-incidence/cancer-incidence
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq
https://www.annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(20)39996-8/fulltext/
https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/09/18/medical-cannabis-found-to-reduce-chemo-induced-nausea-vomiting.html
https://www.worldcancerday.org/understanding-cancer
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Navigating Chronic Pain and Endometriosis with Medicinal Cannabis

Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 individuals in Australia aged 45 and above, totaling 1.6 million people. 

This persistent discomfort not only affects daily activities but also creates challenges to work and enjoyment. The impact is profound, with the cost of chronic pain in 2018 reaching an estimated $139 billion in Australia, attributing to diminished quality of life and productivity losses. 

Managing chronic pain can be complex, demanding a comprehensive approach that integrates both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical methods. 

In the following blog, we explore the potential of medicinal cannabis as a contributor to the treatment of chronic pain.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond normal healing time after injury or illness, generally lasting 3 to 6 months. It is a common and complex condition, and the pain experienced can be anything from mild to severe. The defining characteristic of chronic pain is that it is ongoing and experienced on most days of the week. 

New analysis in this report shows that compared with people without pain, people with chronic pain are more likely to:  

  • be female and older
  • have long-term conditions
  • stay longer in hospital
  • report limitations to daily activities.

There are two main types of chronic pain:

  • Nociceptive pain: pain is caused by damage to body tissue and usually described as a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain and can be caused by a range of conditions or factors including injury, surgery, arthritis, osteoporosis or musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Neuropathic pain: pain is a type of pain that occurs following damage to the nervous system itself. The sensations associated with this type of pain are described as burning or shooting pains. The skin can be numb, tingling or extremely sensitive.

Chronic pain commonly coexists with insomnia, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders such as opioid and alcohol misuse.

What is the role of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain?

The use of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of pain can be traced back to over 5000 years ago when it was utilised in Chinese medicine to treat pain associated with childbirth, rheumatic pain, malaria, and even constipation.

Today, medicinal cannabis is considered to be an emerging therapy in the treatment of chronic pain as its use is the subject of ongoing research. 

The majority of the studies that have been done on the use of cannabinoids in pain have studied Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or THC-rich extracts. Most studies looked at using cannabinoids as “adjuvant” or “add-on” treatments, used in addition to other pain medicines.

Research up until now has demonstrated a moderate benefit using medicinal cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain. There is evidence that medicinal cannabis may help manage comorbidities of chronic pain, such as sleep problems, anxiety, appetite suppression. It may also be effective in managing symptoms in some chronic conditions associated with pain, including HIV, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and arthritis.

Additionally, there is an interest at present as to whether the use of medicinal cannabis products for chronic pain can result in a reduction of use of strong opioids. 

If this were the case, deaths and incapacity from opioid overdoses could be reduced, given that cannabinoids have fewer adverse outcomes. 

It’s important to note that while some individuals with pain have reported that their use of opioids has been reduced through the use of medicinal cannabis, research is ongoing in this area. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic in Byron Bay
Astrid Dispensary and Clinic located in Byron Bay at Habitat Byron Bay

How does Medicinal Cannabis work in the treatment of Chronic Pain? 

Despite robust supportive data from animal models, current clinical trial evidence for THC and CBD efficacy in humans suffering from chronic pain is limited. The therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis primarily arise from the cannabinoids Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD) that are present in the Cannabis Sativa plant.

 Whilst the complete mechanism of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of pain is not fully understood, it is thought that it is mediated through the effects of THC and CBD on the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). 

Is Medicinal Cannabis suitable for all patients with chronic pain?

Current guidelines recommend that chronic pain management should follow a multidisciplinary ‘whole person’ approach to treatment that targets biopsychosocial factors. This means that a range of non-pharmacological as well as pharmacological strategies should be considered as a part of an individualised plan to manage chronic pain. 

Patients diagnosed with chronic pain that is not adequately controlled can talk to their doctor about the suitability of medicinal cannabis as a part of their treatment plan.

It is important to ensure that any measures taken as a part of a treatment plan for chronic pain are effective at reducing pain and positively impacting secondary outcomes such as improving sleep, mood and quality of life.  

It may be of benefit for individuals using medicinal cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain to keep a diary, which includes dosing information and monitoring for efficacy, effects on mood and function, and possible side effects. This aims to help slowly titrate cannabis to symptom control, while minimising adverse events. Generally, once individuals using medical cannabis are stabilised on an effective dose they do not require dose escalation over time.

More research is needed Medical Cannabis in the treatment of Chronic pain

The Australian Government’s National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management recognises that the burden of pain in Australia is growing and pain is associated with comorbidities such as mental health and disability. The overarching aim of this plan is to “Improved quality of life for people living with pain and the pain burden for individuals and the community is minimised”.This plan supports the need for ongoing research and clinical guidance on the use of emerging pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, including medicinal cannabis. This must keep pace with rising consumer expectations and be accompanied by effective communication strategies.

Chronic Pain in Endometriosis: Potential for improved outcomes?

One area of growing interest is in the treatment of Endometriosis. Endometriosis affects roughly 10% (190 million) of reproductive age women and girls globally. It is a chronic disease associated with severe, life-impacting pain during periods, sexual intercourse, bowel movements and/or urination, chronic pelvic pain, abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue, and sometimes depression, anxiety, and infertility. There is currently no known cure for endometriosis and treatment is usually aimed at controlling symptoms.

Endometriosis has significant social, public health and economic implications. It can decrease quality of life due to severe pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and infertility. Some individuals with endometriosis experience debilitating pain that prevents them from going to work or school. Painful sex due to endometriosis can lead to interruption or avoidance of intercourse and affect the sexual health of affected individuals and their partners. Addressing endometriosis will empower those affected by it by supporting their human right to the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health, quality of life and overall well-being.

Women with endometriosis have a four times greater risk of chronic opioid use compared to women without endometriosis. Opioids may be ineffective in managing pain from endometriosis and the tolerance and dependence they are associated with naked opioids unsuitable for the long-term treatment required by those with the condition.

An online survey of women aged 18 to 45, living in Australia, and with surgically confirmed endometriosis sought to determine the prevalence, tolerability, and self-reported effectiveness of cannabis in women with endometriosis.The results indicated that women who utilised cannabis reported good efficacy in reducing pain and other symptoms of endometriosis. Despite this, there is still little evidence supporting its use in this setting and more research is desperately needed.

Currently, the potential use of medicinal cannabis for pain management in people with endometriosis is being explored by Victorian and NSW researchers in a study conducted by Deakin University and Western Sydney University.

To learn more about the role of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain and conditions such as Endometriosis or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries

References:
https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/10434b6f-2147-46ab-b654-a90f05592d35/aihw-phe-267.pdf.aspx?inline=true
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK574562/
https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/resource/guidance/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-australia-patient-information#chronic
https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/05/the-national-strategic-action-plan-for-pain-management-the-national-strategic-action-plan-for-pain-management.pdf
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/can.2021.0156
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcp.13871
https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2021/october/medicinal-cannabis#:~:text=Pharmacologically%2C%20THC%20acts%20a%20partial,well%20as%20analgesia%20and%20sedation.
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis#:~:text=It%20is%20a%20chronic%20disease,depression%2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20infertility.
https://www.nps.org.au/professionals/chronic-pain
Sinclair J, Smith CA, Abbott J, Chalmers KJ, Pate DW, Armour M. Cannabis Use, a Self-Management Strategy Among Australian Women With Endometriosis: Results From a National Online Survey. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2019 Nov 7. pii: S1701-2163(19)30808-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2019.08.033. [Epub ahead of print]
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Astrid’s EOY Party in Melbourne 

To conclude 2023 on a high note, Astrid Dispensary & Clinic hosted a spectacular year-end event, bringing together the Astrid team and our extended community to celebrate and reflect on the remarkable milestones achieved throughout the year.

From earning prestigious titles such as Cannabiz’s Company of the Year and Dispensary of the Year to gaining recognition in media outlets like @forbes, our Astrid journey has been extraordinary. We are filled with gratitude for these accomplishments and wanted to take a moment to revel in the success that our collective efforts have brought.

Behind every milestone stands our incredible team of nurses, pharmacists, and doctors – the true magic of Astrid. Recognising the tireless dedication of our healthcare professionals, we aimed to ensure they could relax and celebrate. As caregivers, we often find ourselves giving to others, and this was the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate our own well-being.

At Astrid, we take pride in having a team that not only works together seamlessly but genuinely enjoys each other’s company. This camaraderie translates into a workplace where passion and enjoyment intersect, fostering a culture of growth and trust. This collaborative spirit enables us to better serve our patients, and for that, we are immensely grateful to our entire Astrid team.

During the event, we took the opportunity to acknowledge and applaud team members who went above and beyond to embody Astrid’s vision in 2023. Congratulations to the following outstanding individuals:

  • Dispensary Team Member of the Year: Lucy Miceli
  • Clinic Team Member of the Year: Olivia Lackmann
  • Head Office Superstar: Sarah Rajah
  • All Rounder of the Year: Bee Mohamed

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our stakeholders and doctors who joined us for the celebration. Your collaboration has been invaluable, and we look forward to continuing our partnership in the coming year.

As we bid farewell to 2023, we’re not only proud of our achievements but also excited about the big plans we have in store for Astrid in 2024. Get ready for some exciting changes! Take a glimpse inside the festivities at Astrid’s 2023 End of Year Party below: 

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Who Meets the Criteria for Plant-Based Therapies in Australia?

Plant medicine has gained increasing attention in Australia since its legalisation for medical use in 2016 as a potential treatment option for a wide range of conditions. However it may not be suited to everyone.

In this blog we explore some of the frequently asked questions, such as:
– who is able to prescribe plant-medicine in Australia,
– what is the current legal framework,
– who may be suitable, and
– what are the steps involved in getting started on your plant-based journey.

Who can prescribe plant-based medicines in Australia?

In Australia, any medical doctor can prescribe plant-based medicines upon receiving approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the respective Health Department of their State or Territory. 

It is important to note that the majority of plant-based medications fall into the category of “unapproved products” and are not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). That means, the information on the efficacy and safety of the products has not been assessed. As a result, obtaining these medications isn’t as straightforward as picking up a prescription from your doctor and having it filled at a pharmacy, as you would with conventional registered medicines. Instead, the TGA has established specific avenues for medical practitioners to access these treatments when they are deemed clinically suitable.

For Australian registered medical professionals looking to prescribe unapproved products for particular conditions, two primary routes are available: the Special Access Scheme (SAS) and the Authorised Prescriber Scheme

Alternatively, general practitioners (GPs) can opt to refer their patients to specialised clinicians with expertise in plant-based medications such as Astrid Clinic. This approach ensures that patients can receive the care and treatment that best suits their medical needs, even in cases where the medications are not officially listed on the  ARTG.

Who may be suitable for plant therapies in Australia?

Australians with various medical conditions can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by a medical doctor, if clinically appropriate. However, there are two main criteria that need to be met:

  1. A diagnosed chronic medical condition
    1. You need to have a diagnosed chronic medical condition, generally by a doctor (usually GP) that has been affecting you for longer than 3 months. 
  2. Trialled conventional therapies
    1. Plant-medicine is not a first line treatment in Australia, and conventional therapies must have been trialled prior to being eligible. Often it isn’t a question of having trialled just one treatment, but numerous treatments (usually a combination of pharmacological (medication) and nonpharmacological e.g. physiotherapy, chiropractor, psychologists/psychiatrists, acupuncture, yoga etc.). If after trialling these, you are still struggling to manage your chronic condition, you have been suffering from ill-effects from these treatments or they are poorly tolerated, plant-based medicine may then be appropriate to trial. 
    2. It also may be acceptable that after discussing the option of trialling a traditional pharmacological treatment with your GP, you may have genuine concerns of potential side effects from medications, and decline commencement for this reason.
Forest canopy representing plant based therapies
Plant-based therapies in Australia has been legal since 2016

Which medical conditions may be appropriate to be treated with plant-based therapies? 

Currently, there is no official list of conditions that the TGA has approved for the use of plant-therapies, however there are over 100 conditions to date that medical practitioners have applied for the use of plant-therapies, through the Special Access Scheme pathway

The TGA have stated that the following conditions have some evidence to show that plant-therapies may be effective:

According to the TGA, there is currently limited scientific evidence to support the use of plant-therapies in most conditions, and in many cases the evidence is for their use together with other medicines. Therefore, plant-based medicines should be considered only when approved treatments have been tried and have failed to manage conditions and symptoms. 

What are some of the steps involved in getting started with plant-based medicine? 

If you’re wondering whether plant-therapies might be right to help better manage your medical condition, the first step would be to have a conversation with your GP, or our team of clinicians at Astrid Clinic

Some patients may find this daunting at first but our team of friendly experts are here to support you each step in this journey.

When speaking with a doctor, we recommend the following steps: 

  1. Be honest and open about your interest in exploring this as an option, whether it being due to you having researched this, or having previous experience. Explain why you think it may be a suitable treatment for your condition(s) and be sure to mention any side effects you’ve experienced with previous treatments. 
  1. Ask questions! Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor ahead of time. Some questions you might consider are:
  • What are the potential benefits or risks associated with plant-based medications?
  • Are there any specific plant-therapies you suggest for my condition?
  • How may it interact with my current treatments or medications?
  • What are some potential side effects or contraindications?
  • How is this going to affect driving or what are the workplace regulations?
  1. Discuss your expectations for the treatment, whether it be improved quality of life, symptom relief, or a reduction in side effects from medications.

Always remember that GPs are healthcare professionals who have your best interests in mind. However, sometimes traditional medical doctors may not have much experience or knowledge in plant-therapies as there still is a lack of education in the conventional medical curriculum. 
If your GP is not able to assist you, there are clinics which specialise in plant-based medicine. The team at Astrid Clinic are committed to ensuring a seamless patient experience, and are proud to provide a comprehensive approach to accessing plant-based medicines. 

At Astrid, we understand the process may seem overwhelming, but plant-based therapies are legal and hold many benefits for some patients throughout Australia. 

The first step is to discuss plant-based therapies further with your GP or book in for a free screening consultation with one of our friendly Astrid Clinic nurses here: https://astrid.health/screening-consultation 

References: 

https://www.sydney.edu.au/lambert/how-to-get-medicinal-cannabis.html
https://dashboard-data.health.gov.au/single/?appid=1066afbe-2b37-427d-8c47-2caa5082cccc&sheet=088f611b-10de-4d72-be68-ccf8d12c54e9&select=clearall
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Navigating Mental Health with Natural Therapies

Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being. In Australia, like many other parts of the world, a significant proportion of the population struggles with mental health issues. 

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), anxiety is the second most applied chronic health condition for plant-based medicines.

In this blog, we discuss the prevalence of mental health issues, with a focus on anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We also explore the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in these conditions, and focus on the data surrounding the increasing number of patients who are accessing plant-therapies to help better manage their mental health.

Mental Health in Focus

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is viewed as an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in”. 

Mental health conditions are very common, and can significantly impact one’s quality of life.

The impact on us

Mental Health issues do not discriminate, and affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. In Australia, the prevalence of these conditions is quite staggering – over two in five (42.9%) people aged 16-85 have experienced a mental health disorder at some time in their life, and one in five (21.4%) have experienced a mental health disorder for longer than 12 months. This helps us understand the need for effective treatments and interventions to help better manage our overall well being.  

Understanding Anxiety, Depression and PTSD

Anxiety is a complex emotional state characterised by feelings of unease, apprehension, and worry. It is a normal response to stress or perceived threats, but when it becomes excessive, uncontrollable and persistent, it can develop into an anxiety disorder. It can manifest with physical symptoms, like increased heart rate, muscle tension, nausea, diarrhoea, or restlessness, and cognitive symptoms like racing thoughts and excessive rumination. 

Depression is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. It often goes beyond normal fluctuations in mood and can affect a person’s daily life, including their ability to work, socialise and maintain relationships. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Common symptoms of PTSD include intrusive and distressing memories of the trauma, flashbacks, night terrors, and severe emotional distress when exposed to reminders of the event. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic pioneers in cannabinoid medicines, plant therapies and nutraceuticals

Dysregulation of the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors, enzymes and endocannabinoids (yes, we naturally produce our own cannabinoids!) in the brain and throughout the body. It plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis, or “balance” within the body. It is believed that patients who have chronic health conditions may in fact have a somewhat of a dysregulation or an “imbalance” of their ECS, and this too is applicable for mood disorders like anxiety, depression and PTSD. 

The two main cannabinoids (or endocannabinoids), produced by our bodies are called 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and Anandamide. Anandamide is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” because it plays a role in promoting feelings of well-being and happiness. Interestingly, the “runners high” you may experience after exercise is now believed to be from a surge in endocannabinoids, specifically anandamide, and not endorphins, as they are unable to cross the blood-brain-barrier.

These two endocannabinoids help to regulate various functions, including mood regulation, stress response, inflammation, and can modulate other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, glutamate and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). 

When looking at how these two cannabinoids may affect anxiety and depression, one study showed lower levels of 2-AG in patients with major depression, whereas it showed patients with high anxiety scores had lower levels of anandamide. 

There is limited research on the role of the ECS in patients with PTSD specifically, however one study showed the effects of trauma on the ECS seem to differ, depending on whether the trauma was experienced in childhood vs adulthood. 

Plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) such as delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) interact with the endocannabinoid system’s primary receptors CB1 (found primarily in the central nervous system) and CB2 (found primarily in the peripheral immune system) by either mimicking endocannabinoids, or by influencing their production or breakdown. These interactions in turn can have various therapeutic effects. 

It is important to note that the relationship between endocannabinoids and mood disorders like anxiety, depression and PTSD is complex and not fully understood. While some studies suggest that enhancing endocannabinoid activity using phytocannabinoids can have positive therapeutic outcomes, there are also concerns about potential side effects and the risk of cannabis use disorder (in particular with THC). Research in this area is ongoing, and the development of safe and effective treatments based on the latest research is critical.

Increase in the number applications for plant-based therapies to treat mood disorders

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) tracks all of the applications made by doctors via the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) for the patients prescribed plant-based therapies. Since 2020, anxiety has been the second most applied for chronic health condition for plant-based medicines. In addition, anxiety, depression and PTSD have all been in the top five most applied for conditions for the use of plant therapies, as well as chronic pain and sleep disorders. 

This data demonstrates the increased use of plant therapies as a potential treatment option for mood disorders, when other conventional therapies may have not been successful or effective.

CBD or THC for mental health? 

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and can be associated with its potential therapeutic benefits in helping to manage mental health disorders. Some studies suggest CBD may have anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory effects, and may help in better regulating mood. THC on the other hand, is the psychoactive component of the plant and is responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis use. While THC can have therapeutic effects for some conditions like chronic pain and cancer-related symptoms, its psychoactive nature may contribute to increased anxiety and paranoia in some individuals. Finding a balance between these cannabinoids is crucial in optimising mental health benefits, while aiming to minimise potential unwanted side effects. 

It is also important to note that not all mental health issues or mood disorders may be appropriate for plant based medicines. Some studies have shown an exacerbation or worsening of symptoms in certain mood disorders (especially with THC-containing medicines), so it is important to be transparent when discussing your medical history with your healthcare professional. If you would like to explore the use of plant-therapies further, we recommend having a discussion with your GP, or booking in with the friendly team at Astrid Clinic, who can provide personalised guidance based on your specific condition(s), medical history and needs. 

Summary

In summary, the landscape of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for mental health is complex, and research behind the role of cannabinoids in mood disorders is ongoing.  It’s important to consult with an experienced healthcare professional if you are considering any form of plant based medicine, as the effects can vary greatly depending on the type of therapy, and various individual factors. 

If you’re suffering from emotional distress, you can contact a 24 hour crisis support or suicide prevention services in Australia.  

24 hours, 7 days
Lifeline: 13 11 14 

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
13YARN: 13 92 76
For further information see Mental health resources

References: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8525214/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808114/  ***
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
https://psychology.org.au/for-the-public/psychology-topics/anxiety
https://psychology.org.au/for-the-public/psychology-topics/depression
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9916354/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6816276/
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Travelling soon? Before you pack, know how to travel with medicinal cannabis 

Australians love to travel. In the 2022-23 year, there were 8,337,080 overseas trips taken by Australian residents, more than 5 times the previous year.

With the top destination countries being New Zealand, Indonesia, the USA, the UK and India. Domestically, over 36 million trips have been recorded in the 2022-23 year.

When travelling, it’s prudent to stay organised with your medications. However, it’s crucial to note that the legal regulations regarding travelling with medicinal cannabis are more intricate compared to many other medications. Regulations vary not only between countries but also, in certain instances, among different Australian states. It is crucial to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about local laws and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

Travelling in Australia

Medicinal cannabis is legal in every Australian state however the requirements around prescribing and dispensing can differ slightly depending on the state.

When considering domestic travel, it is permissible to journey between states with medicinal cannabis as long as an approved doctor has prescribed it, and it is carried in its original container with the pharmacy-dispensed label. Possession of cannabis which has not been obtained legally is still an offence in most states and territories. 

Some clinics offer medicinal cannabis cards. It is important to know that these are not recognised as a legal document and do not replace the requirement to travel with the original, labelled containers as dispensed by the pharmacy. Whilst it is not required when travelling within Australia, it may be useful to have a letter from your doctor describing the cannabis medicine you are taking and how much you are bringing with you.

Overseas Travel

Heading overseas introduces additional complexities. It is the patient’s responsibility and not that of the doctor, pharmacist or travel agent to verify the legality of medicinal cannabis at their destination and understand any relevant rules or restrictions. While some countries permit travel with medicinal cannabis, others may require you to obtain a permit. Conversely, certain destinations may consider it illegal or a controlled substance, with severe penalties associated with its possession, even if prescribed legally in Australia.

Beyond destination regulations, it is essential to account for the requirements set by your airline or cruise line, as well as any layover destinations in your journey.

Some of the most popular destinations for travel for Australians are New Zealand, Indonesia, the UK and the US.  Let’s take a look at some of the considerations for those choosing to travel to these destinations.

Travelling to New Zealand

Medicinal cannabis is legal in New Zealand and it is possible to travel there with prescribed medications that have been dispensed in Australia so long as:

  • the product has been prescribed to you by a doctor
  • you have a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the product
  • you declare the product on your passenger arrival card
  • you carry the product in its original labelled container, and
  • you are bringing no more than a 3-month supply of a CBD product or a 1-month supply of any other medicinal cannabis product.

Additionally, only vaporisers approved as a medical device by an overseas regulator can be imported into New Zealand. This ensures the vaporiser will be a safe method for administering medicinal cannabis. 

Other vaporiser devices, and utensils with prohibited features, continue to be prohibited from New Zealand and may be confiscated by Customs.

Travelling to Indonesia

Cannabis-based products such as cannabis oil and creams, hemp, CBD, THC, hash and edibles remain illegal in Indonesia, including for medicinal purposes. Having a medical prescription does not make it legal. If you take such products to Indonesia or purchase or use them in Indonesia, you can be arrested and face imprisonment, fines, deportation or the death penalty.

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic explores the travel requirements for medicinal cannabis

Travelling to the UK

Medicinal cannabis is available in the UK however it is highly regulated and most cannabis based products are classified as a schedule 1 drug.

The Home office advice currently states that “You cannot bring schedule 1 drugs into the UK without a licence. Licences for schedule 1 drugs are limited to research or other special purposes and therefore it is recommended you do not travel to the UK with your Australian prescribed medicinal cannabis. 

Further information regarding applying for permits to travel to the UK is available here

Travelling to the USA

Some U.S. states have legalised cannabis removing all penalties for possession and personal use. However, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the USA and therefore you can not travel to the USA with your prescribed medicinal cannabis from Australia. 

In short, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) website mentions that marijuana and certain cannabis products, including some CBD oils, are still prohibited by federal law. The exception is for products with less than 0.3% THC or those approved by the FDA. 

While TSA primarily focuses on security and doesn’t specifically search for drugs, if illegal substances are found during screening, they will involve law enforcement. It’s important to note that many US airlines don’t allow cannabis in any form on board.

Planes, boats and automobiles

When planning a road trip, it’s crucial to be aware of the regulations regarding the intake of medicinal cannabis products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while driving. It’s noteworthy that these laws differ across Australian states, and similar regulations exist overseas. In addition to potential penalties abroad, it’s essential to recognize that contravening local drug driving laws may result in adverse consequences, including the possibility of travel insurance not covering accidents. Therefore, understanding and adhering to these laws is paramount to a safe and trouble-free road trip experience.

If travelling on a cruise ship, even if departing and arriving at an Australian port, it is important to first check with the cruise line if they will allow you to bring medicinal cannabis onboard, many do not allow cannabis onboard even if legally prescribed.

Additionally, certain airlines will also not allow passengers onboard with prescribed medicinal cannabis products, even if the destination does allow. It’s important to check this with the individual airline before travelling.

If travelling with a vaporiser it is important to remember that many of these contain lithium batteries. Batteries that are installed in portable electronic devices may be kept in checked luggage under some conditions. You should discuss this with your airline when you check in. All spare or loose batteries must be in your carry-on baggage only. Also, the vaporiser should be clean with no cannabis flower inside. Bring any paperwork that mentions that your cannabis needs to be taken via vaporiser with you.

Remember, the laws and regulations around medicinal cannabis internationally and in Australia change with time so it’s important to ensure that you have the most up to date  information for your destination and carrier before you travel.

In summary, Australians need to navigate complex legal issues when carrying medicinal cannabis, with variations between countries and Australian states. Awareness of regulations for specific destinations, such as New Zealand allowing travel with prescribed cannabis and Indonesia strictly prohibiting it, is crucial. Additionally, understanding laws for driving with medicinal cannabis and checking airline policies on its carriage are essential to ensure a safe and compliant travel experience.

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

References:

https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/tourism-and-transport/overseas-arrivals-and-departures-australia/latest-release
https://www.tra.gov.au/en/domestic/domestic-tourism-results
https://www.medicinalcannabis.nsw.gov.au/patients/travel
https://www.casa.gov.au/operations-safety-and-travel/travel-and-passengers/you-fly/batteries-and-portable-power-packs#Sparebatteries
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/regulation-health-and-disability-system/medicinal-cannabis-agency/medicinal-cannabis-agency-information-consumers#enteringnz
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/controlled-drugs-personal-licences
https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/indonesia
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/medical-cannabis/
https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/medical-marijuana
https://rockinst.org/intheweeds/
https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/medical-marijuana
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Unlocking the Potential of Medicinal Cannabis in Epilepsy 

Medicinal cannabis may have a place in the treatment of epilepsy where the use of traditional anti-seizure drugs have not been effective.

It has been studied for a number of years and there is evidence supporting its use in the treatment of certain childhood epilepsies.

What is Epilepsy? 

Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterised by unprovoked seizures, which are sudden and unpredictable bursts of electrical activity in the brain. These seizures can happen at least 24 hours apart or may occur even with a single unprovoked seizure if there is a high chance of more seizures happening. It’s quite common, being the fourth most common brain disorder after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease. In Australia alone, around 142,740 people are estimated to have active epilepsy, costing billions due to its impact on lives.

About one in three people with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite taking regular medication. The frequency of seizures in these individuals may vary in frequency and severity, however any uncontrolled seizure can severely impact quality of life. Medicinal cannabis treatments may be of benefit in these patients. 

What is the role of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of Epilepsy?

Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating molecule from cannabis plants has been tried as an add-on treatment in young people up to the age of 25 who have epilepsy. 

Some studies showed it made life better for both kids and adults with epilepsy, but there aren’t many studies on how well it works for adults. Right now, doctors only suggest medicinal cannabis or cannabinoids along with regular anti-epileptic drugs, not on their own. 

If a doctor thinks about prescribing cannabis treatment, they usually use it together with other medicines, and then see if it helps. In Australia, there’s one approved liquid medicine with CBD(100mg/ml) that is prescribed for this purpose.

Is medicinal cannabis suitable for all patients with Epilepsy?

Medicinal cannabis or cannabinoids might help some people with epilepsy, especially children and young adults, by reducing how often they have seizures. However, this treatment doesn’t work the same for everyone, and it’s crucial to consult your doctor and neurologist before trying it. 

The main goal of epilepsy treatment is to decrease the number of seizures, ideally aiming for no seizures at all. If a patient experiences a 50 percent or more reduction in seizures with medicinal cannabis and doesn’t have significant negative side effects, it might be considered effective. 

Doctors usually suggest trying CBD for about twelve weeks to see if it helps, and ongoing research is being conducted to find out the best dosage and effectiveness of CBD in treating common types of epilepsy in adults.

What are some of the side effects of medicinal cannabis used in the treatment of Epilepsy?

All medications can have potential side effects. The majority of patients treated with CBD report it is well tolerated. Usually, adverse events (AEs) are mild and only observed in the first month. In patients being treated with CBD for the treatment of epilepsy, some of the reported side effects include:

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in appetite (increased or decreased)
  • Worsening of seizures
  • Fever 
  • Convulsion
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal problems 
  • Irritability 
  • Changes in weight (gain or loss)
  • Nausea 
  • Behavioural difficulties 
  • Vomiting 
  • Elevations of liver enzymes (can improve with continued use or dose reduction)

The most frequent AEs are drowsiness, reduced appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, and fever. More serious side effects have also been reported rarely. These include ‘Status epilepticus’, experiencing a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes, or having more than 1 seizure within a 5 minutes period, without returning to a normal level of consciousness between episodes.

Medicinal cannabis or cannabinoids might help some people with epilepsy

Are all medicinal cannabis products suitable in the treatment of Epilepsy?

The cannabis sativa plant has been utilised since ancient times to treat seizures. The active ingredients of this plant include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). 

In more recent times, there have been studies that have demonstrated there is evidence  that supports the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of some patients with epilepsy. Most of this evidence indicates that CBD alone is well tolerated and may be effective in reducing seizures in specific patient groups. 

There is less evidence to support the use of THC containing products. THC is generally not recommended in the treatment of epilepsy as the effect on seizure control is uncertain and they have psychotropic effects that CBD alone is not associated with.

In summary, Cannabidiol (CBD) is the substance in medicinal cannabis that has the most published evidence as an epilepsy treatment. Australian guidelines support using CBD as an add-on to treatment in certain patients when conventional treatments have not adequately controlled seizures. The strongest evidence for the use of CBD is in paediatric and young (under 25 years old) patients. In these populations CBD appears to be well tolerated and reduced seizures by 50% or more in over half the patients studied. Several studies have also demonstrated an improvement in quality of life for both paediatric and adult patients.  

Further research is needed to fully understand the role of other medicinal cannabis products and the role of CBD in the treatment of Epilepsy in adult patients. 

To learn more about the role of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of Epilepsy or ask any questions, please contact our team on (03) 9077 2446 or hello@astrid.health, or visit one of our dispensaries

References:

Devinsky O, Cilio MR, Cross H, Fernandez-Ruiz J, French J, Hill C, Katz R, Di Marzo V, Jutras-Aswad D, Notcutt WG, Martinez-Orgado J, Robson PJ, Rohrback BG, Thiele E, Whalley B, Friedman D. Cannabidiol: pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Epilepsia. 2014 Jun;55(6):791-802. doi: 10.1111/epi.12631. Epub 2014 May 22. PMID: 24854329; PMCID: PMC4707667.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24854329/
https://www.epilepsy.org.au/about-epilepsy/medicinal-cannabis/
https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/resource/guidance/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-treatment-epilepsy-paediatric-and-young-adult-patients-australia#role
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/status-epilepticus#:~:text=If%20you%20have%20epilepsy%2C%20you,episodes%20is%20called%20status%20epilepticus.
Zaheer S, Kumar D, Khan MT, Giyanwani PR, Kiran F. Epilepsy and Cannabis: A Literature Review. Cureus. 2018 Sep 10;10(9):e3278. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3278. PMID: 30443449; PMCID: PMC6235654.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235654/
O’Brien TJ, Berkovic SF, French JA, et al. Adjunctive Transdermal Cannabidiol for Adults With Focal Epilepsy: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(7):e2220189. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.201
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2794028
https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/resource/guidance/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-australia-patient-information
https://epilepsyfoundation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Medicinal-Cannabis-Position-Statement-June-2022.pdf
https://epilepsyfoundation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Economic-burden-of-epilepsy-Final-Report-Feb-2020.pdf
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The Aromatic Alchemy: Unveiling the Wonders of Terpenes

Ever wondered why different plants have unique scents? It’s all thanks to compounds called terpenes.

While many associate them with Cannabis Sativa L., these aromatic molecules are found in various plants, giving them distinctive aromas and tastes. But here’s the mystery: terpenes aren’t just about smell; they’re vital for plant growth and protection. Now, picture this: what if these compounds held the key to powerful medicinal benefits, working in ways we’re only beginning to understand? Stay tuned to unravel the secrets of terpenes, exploring their diverse roles and potential therapeutic wonders.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are natural substances found in plants like Cannabis Sativa L., and they serve various essential functions for the plant, such as helping it grow, protecting it from pests, and more. 

In simpler terms, terpenes are what give plants, like Cannabis Sativa L., their distinctive smells. Different varieties of this plant have their unique mix of terpenes, which is sometimes called their “terpene profile.” You can also find terpenes in other things like tea, thyme, Spanish sage, and citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, and mandarin.

Terpenes are also noted to have various medicinal properties. So far only a small percentage of all 15000–20000 known terpenes have been researched. 

Some of the known terpenes with therapeutic benefits are among the more than 200 terpenes that are found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, these include:

  • Myrcene (also known as 𝛽-myrcene)
  • Limonene
  • Pinene 
  • Caryophyllene
  • Linalool
  • Ocimene
  • Nerolidol

Myrcene

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes. It is also found in basil, mangos, and its namesake, Myrcia sphaerocarpa, is a medicinal shrub from Brazil traditionally used to treat diabetes, diarrhoea, dysentery, and hypertension. Myrcene’s aroma is earthy, fruity, and clove-like. 

It is proposed that myrcene might increase the effects of other compounds in a variety of ways. One idea is that myrcene might affect how cell membranes work, especially the barrier that protects the brain. This could help substances like cannabinoids get into the brain more easily. But we don’t have enough good information yet to be sure. More research is needed to understand this. Myrcene has also been found to help substances pass through the skin more effectively.

Studies on animals have shown that myrcene has strong pain relief, calming, and anti-inflammatory effects. Scientists are currently studying myrcene in various ways to understand its potential benefits better

Limonene

Limonene is regarded as the second most commonly found terpene and is found in citrus, as well as a wide variety of other plant species. It’s an important part of oils found in citrus peels, dill, cumin, neroli, bergamot, and caraway seeds.

Limonene comes in two types: l-limonene and d-limonene. Even though they have the same chemical makeup, they look like mirror images of each other. L-limonene smells like pine and turpentine, while d-limonene has a nice orange scent.

Research has shown that limonene might have different health benefits. It can help fight harmful substances in the body, reduce inflammation, and protect against certain diseases. Scientists are studying how Limonene can be used to treat long-term health problems because it helps the body deal with stress and inflammation, and it also helps control cell death.

Also,scientists have done many studies on limonene to see if it can protect our brains from diseases like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, seizures, anxiety, and stroke.

Pinene

Pinene, commonly found in pine trees, comes in two forms—α-pinene and 𝛽-pinene. It is associated with the earthy, woody, fresh aromas of pine, and resin found in many non-edible parts of plants.

Many plants rich in pinene have been used in traditional remedies to address a range of ailments, such as gastrointestinal issues, seizures, inflammation, pain, snake bites, colds, fevers, hypertension, rheumatism, cancer, fungal infections, anxiety, and depression, among other conditions.

Many studies have shown that pinene might have a role in helping fight off infections, stopping blood clots, and even reducing pain and inflammation.

Astrid Dispensary in South Yarra, Melbourne

β-Caryophyllene (BCP)

The terpene BCP, found in black pepper, cloves, hops, rosemary, copaiba, and cannabis, is quite special. It’s different from the well-known substances in cannabis like THC(tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD(cannabidiol). BCP is unique because it interacts with a system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system in a special way.

Imagine your body has tiny locks, and the endocannabinoid system has keys to these locks. BCP fits into a specific lock called the CB2 receptor. This is different from most other compounds in cannabis.

Scientists have been studying BCP to see how it can help us with various health issues. They’ve looked into its potential for treating problems like colitis (inflammation in the colon), osteoarthritis (a type of joint pain), diabetes, cerebral ischemia (a condition where the brain doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen), anxiety, depression, liver fibrosis (scarring of the liver tissue), and diseases similar to Alzheimer’s.

There’s also hope that BCP could aid in cancer treatment. It might make certain chemotherapy drugs work better and even slow down the growth of tumours. 

Linalool

Linalool is a substance found in many fragrant plants. There are two types of linalool, each giving off a different smell. (R)-linalool, found in plants like lavender, sweet basil, and eucalyptus, has a fresh and woody scent. On the other hand, (S)-linalool has a softer fragrance with sweet and floral tones.

Scientists believe linalool could be really good for our brain. It might protect our brain cells, reduce inflammation (when parts of our body get red and swollen), and fight harmful substances called oxidants. Some studies with people have shown that oils with lots of linalool might help with problems like feeling very worried, sad, or having trouble sleeping. 

β-Ocimene

The name ‘Ocimene’ comes from the Greek word for ‘basil,’ which makes sense because basil plants contain this substance. It has a sweet and woody smell and can be found in things like mint, parsley, tarragon, kumquats, and mangos. It might have a role in stopping seizures, fighting fungal infections, and hindering the growth of tumours.

Nerolidol

Nerolidol is one of the common components found in the essential oil of various medicinal plants. The aroma is woody and reminiscent of fresh bark.

A majority of the studies reveal that nerolidol is the major constituent in many plants that have shown to exhibit antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-biofilm, anti-oxidant, anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, skin penetration enhancer, insect repellent and anti-cancer properties. The presence of nerolidol in these plants may be a contributing factor to these properties.  

Why are Boiling points important?

Boiling points are important because they help us understand how different natural compounds, like terpenes, behave when they are heated.

Now, imagine if you had a pot of soup on the stove. You know that the soup needs to be heated to a certain temperature for it to taste just right. Similarly, each terpene has its own specific temperature at which it starts to turn into vapour and disappear. We call this temperature the boiling point of the terpene.

So, knowing the boiling points of terpenes is like knowing the perfect temperature for your soup. It helps scientists and researchers understand how these compounds work and how they can be used in things like perfumes, medicines, or even tasty food recipes.

Different terpenes have different boiling points. Some might start evaporating at a lower temperature, while others need more heat to disappear. By understanding these boiling points, scientists can use terpenes effectively in various products, making sure they are not lost before they elicit their effects.

Terpenes are volatile, natural and complex bioactive compounds. Each terpene will have a different point at which they start to evaporate and the boiling point of a terpene is the temperature at which it completely dissipates. 

Terpenes aren’t just about smell; they’re vital for plant growth and protection

Boiling Points of Different Terpenes:

Different terpenes have different boiling points, below are some of the common terpenes and temperatures: 

TerpeneBoiling Point (°C)
α-Pinene155
Camphene159
Sabinene163
β-Pinene166
Myrcene168
Carene171
Ocimene175
Limonene176
Terpinolene185
Linalool198
Terpineol217
Geraniol230
β-Caryophyllene263
Humulene276
Nerolidol276
Guaiol290
Bisabolol314

The ‘Entourage Effect’

The ‘entourage effect’ is the notion that the pharmacological effects of cannabis, as a whole extract, is greater than the sum of its individual chemical components. 

The terpenoids in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant may directly or indirectly interact with the plant cannabinoids, potentially contributing to the therapeutic value of plant-based therapies. This synergistic effect is sometimes referred to as the ‘entourage effect’ and is the subject of ongoing research. 

In summary, Terpenes are responsible for the smell of many plants. They play an important role in nature to protect the plant from pests and disease. However many terpenes also may have therapeutic benefits when taken as a component of plant-based medicine.

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

References:

Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1344-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x. PMID: 21749363; PMCID: PMC3165946.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
https://www.sydney.edu.au/lambert/medicinal-cannabis/the-cannabis-plant.html
Cox-Georgian D, Ramadoss N, Dona C, Basu C. Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Terpenes. Medicinal Plants. 2019 Nov 12:333–59. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-31269-5_15. PMCID: PMC7120914. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/myrcene
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/limonene
Eddin, L.B.; Jha, N.K.; Meeran, M.F.N.; Kesari, K.K.; Beiram, R.; Ojha, S. Neuroprotective Potential of Limonene and Limonene Containing Natural Products. Molecules 2021, 26, 4535. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26154535
https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/15/4535
Salehi B, Upadhyay S, Erdogan Orhan I, Kumar Jugran A, L D Jayaweera S, A Dias D, Sharopov F, Taheri Y, Martins N, Baghalpour N, Cho WC, Sharifi-Rad J. Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature. Biomolecules. 2019 Nov 14;9(11):738. doi: 10.3390/biom9110738. PMID: 31739596; PMCID: PMC6920849.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920849/
AUTHOR=Weston-Green Katrina, Clunas Helen, Jimenez Naranjo Carlos  
TITLE=A Review of the Potential Use of Pinene and Linalool as Terpene-Based Medicines for Brain Health: Discovering Novel Therapeutics in the Flavours and Fragrances of Cannabis 
JOURNAL=Frontiers in Psychiatry    
VOLUME=12     
YEAR=2021  
URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.583211       
DOI=10.3389/fpsyt.2021.583211   
ISSN=1664-0640   
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