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Medicinal Cannabis. How it Works.



Cannabis medicines may provide an alternative, or complementary treatment, to a range of medical indications. Australian GPs and specialists can prescribe a variety of medicinal cannabis products, available to patients via participating pharmacies.

Every Human has an Endocannabinoid System in their bodies that restores homeostasis by promoting sleep, appetite, stress reduction, modulation of pain and inflammation.

the endocannabinoid system


Research on Cannabis, conducted in the 1960’s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, began the process toward the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. Now, the endocannabinoid system is recognised as having an important role in the modulation of brain, endocrine and immune tissues. It works to restore homeostasis by promoting sleep, appetite and stress reduction whilst modulating pain and inflammatory response.

It is believed that cannabinoid receptors outnumber any other receptor system in the human body. The sheer number and distribution of cannabinoid receptors hints at how cannabis can potentially treat such a diverse range of disease states, thus helping a broad spectrum of patients in their health journey.


Both endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on the human body’s cannabinoid receptors. There have been more than 100 different cannabinoids identified within cannabis plants. Of these, Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ligates both the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, reproductive organs, liver, kidneys, bones and brain, and the CB2 receptors in the immune system. THC is also the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The other main cannabinoid of interest is Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD ligates (binds) CB2 receptors in the immune system. In addition, it is suggested that CBD modulates the effects of THC by interacting with and reducing the activation of CB1 receptors. This can moderate the psychoactive effects of THC; however, animal studies show that this effect depends on the size of the CBD dose, the cannabinoid ratio, and the time each component is taken.

the entourage effect


Whilst THC and CBD are considered the two main cannabinoids of interest, in the cannabis plant, they are not the only clinically and pharmacologically active cannabinoids. It appears that the effects of THC and CBD may be mediated by other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that may also have their own unique effects. As such, the effect of a whole plant extract will be different, within the human body, than that of an isolated compound.

This whole plant synergistic view of cannabis is called The Entourage Effect. The basis of the entourage effect is that a whole plant cannabis extract keeps the chemical compounds of the plant together in a single formulation. The different chemical compounds in the formulation then work together to yield a more beneficial health outcome when compared to an isolated single compound.



Different types of cannabis have different phenotypes (visual appearance). Their phenotypes are typified by their different chemotypes. A female plant’s chemotype is represented by the ratio of cannabinoids, plant terpenes and flavonoids present in the flowering heads. The ratio of these compounds is significant in medicine as terpenes and flavonoids are thought to interact with cannabinoids to enhance or alter the overall effect of cannabis on the body and its immune system.


Indica and Sativa are two species of cannabis plants with different phenotypes and chemotypes. As a result, formulations derived from these species have different medicinal properties and thus differing effects on patients.


Indica and Sativa species can be combined to create hybrid strains that have different effects again.

The fundamental difference between the two species is that Indica strains tend to have a deeply relaxing effect, often making the patient feel sleepy. On the other hand, Sativa strains are more energising and can make a patient more alert.





Sativa strains tend toward daytime focusing on mental activation and producing effects of: euphoria, creativity, alertness, sociability, cheefulness and energy.



Increase in Thought Processes

Stimulates the mind, digestion and body

Increases appetite

Increases creativity

Anxiolytic - Increases Self-Confidence and Fights Depression

Recommended for use during the day






Indica strains tend to affect the perceptions of the body and are ideal for night-time dosing. Typical effects include: mellowness, a carefree state, calm, couch-lock, sleepiness and relaxation.



Increased physical effect (“couch-lock”)

Soothing – relaxes smooth muscle

Anxiolytic - Relieves anxiety

Soporific – mild sedative

Analgesic and Anti Inflammatory - Relieves pain

Recommended for use at night