Cannabis capsules offer a precisely dosed, simple, and effective way of taking medical cannabis.
While capsules may not get as much attention as CBD oils and flower, they offer the same benefits, just in a different format. According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), over 6,000 Australian patients have been prescribed cannabis capsules since 2016, with more than 1,500 of those administered in 2022 alone.
If you are new to all things medical cannabis, you may also be new to cannabis in a capsule format. So, in this article, we’ll shed light on the effects, benefits, and applications of cannabis capsules.
What Are Cannabis Capsules?
Cannabis capsules are made of coated cannabis oils. Like most products on the Australian market, they generally contain some combination of cannabinoids, which are the medicinally valuable part of cannabis. These typically include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Capsules are ingested orally and have a slow onset with a longer duration. According to the TGA, chronic pain is the number one condition for which doctors prescribe capsules, followed by anxiety and sleep disorders. This may be partially due to the longer-lasting effects.
Capsules are highly convenient, giving patients an option that's ready to go and perfectly dosed, compared with other formats like flower and concentrates that take a bit of work.
What’s the Best Way to Take Cannabis Capsules?
Cannabis capsules are designed for oral consumption only. In Australia, capsules will always be prescribed by a doctor. Like all prescriptions, this means patients should follow the recommendations detailed on the script.
Since they are ingested orally rather than inhaled like flower or vape cartridges, they can be a better option for patients with respiratory issues.
Your doctor may recommend taking cannabis capsules with food, similar to other familiar medications. Adding healthy fats to your meal may be beneficial, as some studies have shown that high-fat foods can increase cannabidiol absorption (aka the bioaccessibility) of CBD and other cannabinoids.
What Are the Effects of Cannabis Capsules?
Since cannabis capsules are taken orally, they are processed in much the same way as edibles (which are not currently available in Australia). This means the medical compounds in the capsule travel first to your stomach and then through your liver before entering the bloodstream and brain.
Because ingested forms of cannabis, like capsules, need to go through the digestive process first, the onset of effects is delayed. Many patients will not feel anything for an hour or more. As a comparison, the effects from vaped flower typically come on within 15 minutes.
But, one of the many benefits of capsules is that the effects have a longer life. In fact, depending on dosage and the patient, full effects can peak after four hours, with lingering effects lasting six or more. This makes cannabis capsules a good option for those struggling with chronic conditions—the effects last for an extended period.
In addition to an increased lifespan, research has shown that when THC goes through the metabolisation process, it’s converted to a more potent compound called THC-COOH. This means the effects are felt more keenly than other consumption methods like inhalation.
Every individual’s liver metabolises compounds differently, so there could be some trial and error involved in finding the suitable capsule and dose for you. This is where an alternaleaf doctor comes into play. Your doctor may recommend a lower dose to start, so you can see how your body reacts.
How To Access Cannabis Capsules in Australia
Medical cannabis capsules are available to patients within Australia with a prescription. If you think your chronic condition could benefit from a medical cannabis prescription, book a consultation with a doctor at a medical cannabis clinic or your local GP.
There are a number of risks associated with the use of medical cannabis and your doctor will explain these to you before issuing a prescription. Medical cannabis affects everyone differently and may not help with your chronic condition.