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Medical cannabis in pain management – the science behind THC and CBD treatments

Understand the use of medical cannabis in modern day pain management.

Medical marijuana is used to treat conditions such as arthritis

Marijuana has been used as medicine since Ancient China, thousands of years ago! (This was mentioned in the work of Emperor Shen Neng.) In this article, we cover the use of medical cannabis in modern day pain management in Australia. The essence of the science is that the main elements of marijuana which cause its effects are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

What is medical marijuana in Australia?

Medical cannabis is made from the cannabis sativa plant. The terms marijuana and cannabis are used in the exact same way in this context, so don’t get confused. What forms can it take? The form can be a pill, oil, or nasal spray. The main example in the Australian market is Sativex, a spray containing THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio. This spray is approved to treat those with multiple sclerosis.

What can medical marijuana treat?

In Australia, medical marijuana can be given when there is evidence it can be used to treat the medical condition which has motivated the complaint and request. What are the most frequently treated conditions?

Frequently treated conditions
HIV/AIDS Glaucoma
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Nausea-related conditions
Multiple sclerosis Wasting syndrome (cachexia)

This is by no means everything that can be treated! For treatment, there are many conditions that the Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian Government has approved. Find your complaint below:

Acne Chemotherapy-induced Epilepsy Polymyalgia Rheumatica
ADHD symptoms nausia and vomiting Fibromyalgia Post CVA Neuropathy
Alzheimer's Disease Chronic Pain Insomina Psychiatric disorders
Anxiety Dementia Ischemia PTSD
Arthritis Depression Migraines Radiculopathies
Autism Spectrum Disorder Diabetes Opioid dependence Rheumatoid Arthritis
Autoimmune disorders Dystonia Palliative care Sleep disorders
Cancer & cancer pains Endometriosis Parkinson's disease Tremors

There is research continuing worldwide into what can be treated by medical marijuana. Who knows- in time, many more conditions may be eligible.

Why use medical marijuana instead of other treatments?

There are many more conventional forms of treatment for these conditions. These can have terrible effects which motivate users to try cannabis as a different solution. For example, the family of anti-inflammatory drugs and even over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen can have effects such as nausea. The opiates have a significant number of side effects such as constipation, fogginess, and addiction.

What are the side effects of medical cannabis?

A different combination of THC and CBD will change the effects. For example, CBD-rich forms tend to have fewer side effects than THC-rich forms. What are the known side-effects of medical cannabis treatment?

Both CBD and THC THC
Fatigue and sedation Convulsions
Vertigo Feeling high
Nausea and vomiting Feeling dissatisfied
Fever Depression
Decreased or increase appetite Confusion
Dry Mouth Hallucinations
Diarrhoea Cognitive distortion (false thoughts)

What do I need to do to get medical marijuana in Australia?

In Australia, medical marijuana is legal at a federal level and in all states. Medical marijuana can be given by any doctor in Australia - GP or specialist. You must meet a few requirements if you want medical cannabis in Australia.

First, medical marijuana is not a “first line” treatment; it typically follows the failure of other medications. (What are these medications? That will depend on what you are trying to get treatment for.) This does not exclude the situation where other treatments have caused unbearable side effects for you. Those who want to be considered as eligible for medical cannabis generally have tried and failed several conventional treatments. Also, you cannot be allergic to cannabinoids.

Finally, it is not easy to be eligible for medical cannabis if you have a history of substance abuse. In this case, the best course of action is to consult a GP for further conversation.

Where can I find out more about medical marijuana in Australia?

There is considerable misinformation on this topic, so favour websites created by the Australian Government and government-funded groups. There are a few sites on the topic to start with:


Anodyne is a multidisciplinary medical centre in Perth Western Australia. With a focus on patient centred approaches for pain and mental health recovery.

Any advice posted on our blog, website, or app is of a general nature and for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice.

Anodyne makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical practitioner.

Want to know more?

Medical cannabis in pain management is an exciting and modern field of treatment when used under the guidance and recommendation of a medical professional.

Please contact Anodyne to book an appointment and discuss if medical cannabis might be a suitable addition to your pain management plan.