What is 420? Celebrating Natural Medicine at Astrid South Yarra

On April 20 at 4:20pm our dispensary in South Yarra was buzzing with patients, nurses, doctors, and advocates, all sharing their experiences with natural medicine.

A huge thank you to our amazing community for joining us in celebration.

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.

For us, 420 is more than just a day; it’s about our community coming together to break the negative associations surrounding natural medicine.

It’s about having important conversations and, most importantly, normalising natural therapies as a form of medicine — we want everyone who needs it to have access.

Our hearts are full, and we are more determined than ever to continue our mission.

We are grateful for our wonderful community here at Astrid. Thank you for your continued support!

Here’s a look inside our 420 event:

If you have any questions or feedback about our events, please don’t hesitate to contact us: hello@astrid.health. At Astrid, we’re more than just a healthcare provider— we are your partners in wellness.


A Year of Growth and Connection: Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay’s One Year Anniversary

The Astrid team have been reflecting on the transformative year since early 2023 when we  unveiled our second Astrid Dispensary, this time in the heart of Byron Bay. Our first year in Byron has been filled with growth, innovation and strong community engagement. 

The Astrid journey began in the challenging times of 2020, amidst Melbourne’s lockdowns, with the opening of our first dispensary in South Yarra, Melbourne. Fast forward to 2023 when we launched our Byron Bay location to completely reimagine the pharmacy experience. 

Nestled within the innovative shared space of Habitat Collective, the Astrid Byron Bay Dispensary stands as a calming green pharmacy infused with warmth, connection, and nature.

Celebrate with us as we mark a year of transformative health and wellness at Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay.

Designing A Peaceful Sanctuary Byron Dispensary Space 

The location was crafted by the visionary Barbara Chung from Alte Studio. 

As the rugged yet refined sibling of its Melbourne store, Astrid Dispensary Byron Bay offers a tranquil space formed by gentle curves that are grounded by linear lines to enable the seamless interaction between pharmacist and patient. 

Our aim with the design was to welcome patients into a space of tranquillity, reflecting Byron itself, offering a comforting sense of serenity and human connection. Fluid curves and clean lines encourage in-depth personal consultations between pharmacists and patients, ensuring each visit is both rejuvenating and enlightening.

The design of the space was to bridge communities whilst encapsulating Byron Bay’s history and its sweeping natural landscapes of its hinterland. The walls are lined with lush foliage draping over deep walnut timbers. A moss coated wall evokes fond memories of long winding drives through the Hinterland, paying respect to those who came before us. 

The space is expanded by mirrors lining the back wall, attracting natural light, and reflecting the outdoor garden greenery, emulating an alluringly vast forest. These design elements act in unison as an extract of nature itself by accentuating its textures, greenery and Astrid’s love of all things natural. 

The thoughtful design pays tribute to the natural environment, the community’s heritage, and Astrid’s forward-looking philosophy. 

Recognised for its distinctive design and patient-focused ethos, Astrid Byron Bay was honoured as a finalist for Best Retail Design at the Australian Design Review IDEA in 2023, a testament to our innovative approach to healthcare.

Launching Astrid Byron Bay Dispensary 

At the launch of Astrid Byron Bay in 2023, we celebrated with an insightful discussion from thought leaders where we addressed pivotal patient and industry challenges. This gathering underscored our commitment to not only serve but also to spark meaningful conversations within the wellness community.

In our first year, Astrid Byron Bay has flourished into a cherished wellness hub, offering a serene retreat where individuals embark on their healing journeys with natural therapies and plant-based lifestyle and skincare products. 

Our mission to increase education and advocacy around cannabinoid medicines has deepened our community ties and propelled our vision forward both in Byron Bay and across Australia. 

The Byron Bay location is the perfect place for patients to visit us, take a moment to learn about wellness and support their own healthcare journey.

The Future of Astrid across Australia

The Astrid Dispensaries will always transcend the traditional pharmacy model, embodying a movement towards sophistication, modernity, and transformative healthcare. Astrid aims to provide a truly elevated experience at each of our dispensaries.  

Founded by Lisa Nguyen, a trailblazer in plant-based medicine, Astrid Byron Bay mirrors our ethos, creating a sanctuary where healing, education, and nature intertwine. In 2024, we’re working towards launching our third dispensary location in Australia. 

Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our journey in Byron Bay, steadfast in our commitment to revolutionise the pharmacy experience, champion natural medicine, and support our community’s wellness journey. 

We invite you to explore the Astrid difference within Habitat, Byron Bay, and join us in celebrating a milestone year of health, innovation, and community.

Our heartfelt gratitude extends to our patients, team, and community for an incredible year of shared growth and healing. 

Here’s to forging ahead with innovation, healing, and expansion.

When you’re in Byron, come visit the Astrid team at Suites 57-58/1 Porter St, Byron Bay NSW 2481. 


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. 


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.


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