CBD Oil’s Benefits, Side Effects and Journey Into Australia’s Medical Sphere

CBD oil can do a lot of cool stuff. Here’s your full guide to cannabidiol or CBD oil benefits, side effects, uses, legality and buying it in Australia.
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CBD oil benefits are no secret. The once relatively unknown potion previously confined to fringe circles in Australia has exploded into the mainstream in recent years for its diverse physical and mental health benefits.

What is CBD oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the most common, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol a non-psychoactive derivative. Consuming it won’t give you a high, but it can work wonders in other ways as a natural remedy for a wide range of health issues.

While the World Health Organisation says, “To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD,” there are some side-effects to be aware of.


But how many of these CBD oil benefits or side effects are just mislabelled myths, or promises preached by your mate’s mate who’s “actually a doctor or something”, and how many are backed by science?

Allow us to clear the smoke.

CBD oil benefits

Pain relief

Cannabis has been used to treat pain for thousands of years and research suggests cannabidiol could be the compound that does it.

Some studies have shown CBD oil can be an effective treatment for chronic pain associated with malignant diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancers. This is largely because of the way it interacts with neurotransmitters, but it has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2022 study concluded the Sativex nasal spray containing both CBD and THC may help reduce muscle pain in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and research from 2021 also showed early signs CBD oil could relieve pain in patients with rheumatic diseases like fibromyalgia.

CBD oil for arthritis is also a common treatment but has only been scientifically validated by non-human studies involving various animals and anecdotally, thanks to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.


However these studies acknowledge more research is needed in this field.

Mental health and mood disorders

CBD oil has been found to reduce the symptoms of several mental health conditions and mood disorders including anxiety and depression, psychosis and PTSD by disrupting fear memories.

CBD oil for anxiety, CBD oil for ADHD, CBD oil for depression and CBD oil for sleep are some of its most common uses in Australia,

Insomnia is a common symptom of these conditions and CBD oil can also have a powerful effect on sleep.

Scientists don’t fully understand why, but CBD oil can help you fall asleep faster and, in high doses, can increase REM (rapid eye movement) sleep latency, that is reducing how long it takes you to reach the REM stage of sleep.

Neurological effects

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has approved one CBD product for the treatment of several conditions that cause seizures, and it has also been documented to reduce the symptoms of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy.


Skin benefits

Thanks to cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties, some studies have suggested it may also be anti-itch and anti-aging and can be used as treatments for conditions like acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and even skin cancer.

Better sex

CBD oil benefits, sexually, are less studied but also well-discussed. Due to its effects on lowering anxiety and improving mood, CBD oil can increase sexual desire and even pleasure during sex.

Other CBD oil benefits

CBD oil has also been known to have positive effects on heart health, help people with drug dependencies to quit with reduced withdrawal symptoms, and even extend your life expectancy.

CBD oil side effects

CBD oil has a few side effects or drawbacks that affect some more than others.

It has been to potentially cause reactions like diarrhea, appetite and weight changes, dry mouth and fatigue in some people.

But overall, science says it is safe to use.

It’s highly unlikely to develop an allergy to it, though it has been reported.


One Australian study found it also won’t impair your driving, unlike its relative THC.

It can, however, interact with alcohol and prescription medications in different ways, so, as always, be careful when mixing substances.

How to use CBD oil

If you’ve decided CBD oil might be worth a go, it can be consumed in many different ways. Methods include inhaling, sublingual (under the tongue), oral (caps or edibles), nasal sprays, topical creams on the skin, or transdermal creams or patches designed to pass through the skin into the bloodstream.

CBD oil Australia: A journey into the medical scene

CBD oil Australia – is it legal?

CBD oil is legal in Australia as of 2015, so long as the product itself contains at least 98% cannabidiol and less than 2% of other cannabinoids found in cannabis. But restrictions on its sale mean it’s hard to come by locally.

Firstly, the Therapeutic Goods Administration classed CBD oil as a Schedule 3 substance in 2020, meaning only low-dose products can be sold – and only at pharmacies, in theory over the counter.


But to date the TGA has approved no products that can be obtained without a prescription.

Is it legal to buy CBD oil online?

No, because it is legally considered a pharmaceutial product that can’t be purchased outside a pharmacy setting, but that doesn’t stop people from doing so. The downside of this is products are often mislabelled and harder to trust. The TGA has a guide warning people of what to look out for.

How much does CBD oil cost in Australia?

If you have a prescription, be prepared to fork out a lot for CBD oil products.

The average patient using CBD oil for daily treatment can pay anywhere from $4 to $15 a day, or up to $300 a month.

Who is a CBD oil authorised prescriber in Australia?

The rules vary state-to-state. In most jurisdictions, any medical doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis and CBD oil but they need to obtain authorisation from the TGA and their state or territory’s health department to do so.


Some jurisdictions are more lenient than others – in Victoria for example, any doctor and nurse practitioner can prescribe cannabis and CBD oil to any patient for any condition without any extra accreditation.

Can you get CBD oil from your doctor?

Once you have a prescription for CBD oil from your doctor you will have to go to a registered pharmacy or cannabis dispensary to obtain the product. Not all pharmacies carry CBD oil or medicinal cannabis so you may need to hunt around if you want to buy it in person.

Can you drive with CBD oil in Australia?

Technically, that’s up to you. And legally, no but times are changing and new laws to be proposed in Victoria will change driver drug tests to measure impairment, not whether or not its traceable in your system.

Is CBD oil for pets legal in Australia?

Vets in Australia can prescribe CBD oil but there are a few conditions:Cannabidiol comprises 98 per cent or more of the total cannabinoid in the preparationany cannabinoids, other than cannabidiol, must be only those naturally found in cannabis; Owner consent is obtained to trial an unlicensed and potentially harmful treatment; and there is adequate monitoring of the patient’s response and any side effects


Does CBD oil show up on drug tests in Australia?

Yes. Whether the drug test tests your saliva, hair or urine, CBD oil will likely be detectable as a cannabis derivative.

Is CBD oil covered by Medicare?

Sadly, no.

When will Chemist Warehouse stock CBD oil?

Sooner than you think! Chemist warehouse struck a deal with medical cannabis supplier Cannatrek in 2021.

How to make CBD oil

Legally we must say: don’t.

How to use CBD oil

What’s the best time to take CBD oil under the tongue?

The answer, naturally, depends on what you’re using medicinal CBD oil for. if it’s for anxiety and to keep you mellow, then you might want to use it in the morning. If you’re using it to help you sleep, then obviously take it before bed. Doctors may prescribe specific doses to treat other conditions.

How much CBD oil should a beginner start with?

Again, this partly depends on why you’re using CBD oil. If you’re using it unprescribed without doctor’s consult, always start with the smallest amount possible.

How long after taking CBD oil can you drink water?

If you’re taking CBD oil orally via a dropper, then it will need some time to absorb. 60 seconds should do it.

How long does CBD oil last?


This depends on the dose, the strength of the product and the person but generally speaking the effects can last a couple of hours, up to six.

Can you take CBD oil and alcohol together?

Look, it’s definitely not recommended. CBD oil can heighten the effects of alcohol and make you feel more…impaired. The combo can also make you feel extra drowsy or even nauseous so proceed with great caution.

Hemp oil vs CBD oil: What’s the difference?

Believe it or not, hemp is actually a different species of cannabis to the type we take to get high or get CBD oil from. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, like sesame oil comes from sesame seeds. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp contains THC, yes, but barely any, in fact less than 0.3 per cent. CBD oil on the other hand is made from the leaves, stalks and flowers of a number of different cannabis plants.

The science is in on CBD oil

The benefits of CBD oil – and the side effects – are a relatively new topic of scientific research, but there is a wealth of it out there. Now that you have the knowledge, you have the power to decide for yourself. Be safe, but also have fun.

Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.