As nicotine vaping laws change in Australia and are talked about in the media, many questions are arising about legal prescription vaping of plant-based medicine in Australia.
Although the majority of plant-based medicine prescriptions in Australia use sublingual oils as a delivery method, vaporised inhalation still is one pathway that is prescribed for bioavailability and onset of action.
Many vaporisers used for the therapeutic application of plant-based treatment (when deemed medically appropriate) are large and non-portable. Discuss with your doctor about avenues and legal options available for vaporised administration on prescription.
Plant-based vaping in Australia
As of 2021, approximately 16% of Australian plant-based medicine patients were prescribed raw flower which can come in a range of different chemical compound ratios.
With the known health risks surrounding inhaling dangerous by-products of combustion created when smoking of any kind, most doctors would prescribe raw flower to be only used via a vaporiser.
These vaporising devices provide aerosolised chemical compounds which may be suitable for patients who want to avoid the deleterious effects of smoking, whilst trying to access the increased bioavailability and potentially more rapid symptom relief attributed to inhaling therapeutic compounds. Of course, some patients may not see any symptom relief from plant-based medicine, irrespective of the delivery method.
So what are the differences between plant-based medicine vaping and nicotine vaping?
Nicotine vape laws have changed in Australia. As of 1st October 2021 vaping nicotine e-liquids will only be available via prescription from a GP or dedicated pharmacies. While nicotine vaping may potentially have a role in assisting smokers to quit tobacco products, there is sparse research around plant-based medicine vaping for specific conditions.
Manufacturing plant-based chemical compounds for vaping through e-cigarettes isn’t a simple process. It is problems with manufacturing and adverse ingredients included in illicit and unregulated vape products that have caused concern in the media and medical community around the dangers of vaping, including a novel condition known as Vape Associated Lung Injury (VALI).
Whether using vaping technology to assist in quitting smoking or to help treat a medical condition with plant-based medicine, it is essential the vaping product is prescribed by a doctor.
Research on vaping
Emerging research on plant-based therapy for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders postulates it may be able to influence neuroinflammation, addiction behaviours and withdrawal for some patients.
While research is in its infancy and thus inconclusive, one clinical trial in healthy subjects suggested that vaping plant-based medicine enhanced short term memory performance compared to a placebo, with no negative effects observed on working memory performance or attention. This supports theories that by influencing the endocannabinoid system, the medicine may act on neural connectivity.
Vaping and smoking cessation
Quitting smoking is notoriously hard, and smokers often try numerous avenues to quit with no success. One preliminary research study looked into whether vaping plant-based medicine can assist smokers in reducing cigarette intake, but must be taken in the context of how difficult it is to quit for good. Participants in this study were provided with a plant-based medicine vape or a placebo vape and advised to use it when they felt a desire for a cigarette. If you are looking for options to help you quit tobacco smoking, there are sites with a range of smoking cessation tools such as Help Me Stop.
Is vaping safe?
Whether delivering your plant-based medicine through a vape device or quitting smoking cigarettes with prescription nicotine vaping, there are always safety considerations and risks to be aware of and vaping of any kind can never be called “safe” given the lack of research on vaping long term. Vaping is still a novel tool for therapeutic use, with no devices authorised and limited long term safety data.
Additives such as vitamin E acetate, squalene, synthetic cannabinoids, flavours, thinning agents and carrier oils are dangerous ingredients prohibited in many countries including Australia.
Improper use of vapes and toxic by-products caused by oxidation of e-liquid or metals in vape devices pose health risks that have yet to be fully understood by researchers.
For monitored use of prescription plant-based vaping it is essential to have the guidance of your GP or a well-informed doctor.
For more information on nicotine vaping to aid in smoking cessation, please contact [email protected]
Disclaimer: Medicinal cannabis products are unapproved therapeutic goods, which means they have not been assessed by the TGA for safety, quality or effectiveness. However, where clinically appropriate, there are pathways for doctors to access medicinal cannabis products for their patients. Note that medicinal cannabis does not have therapeutic effects for all patients and may not be medically appropriate for you or your condition. It is always important to check with your doctor before considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option for you, especially if you are already taking other medications. as some patients may experience side effects. None of the content here is an encouragement or inducement to try or use medicinal cannabis, and is for educational and informational purposes only.