Lullaby Health

Breaking the stigma – the research behind the leaf

Around two thousand years ago, Pliny the Elder advised women to consume powdered sow’s dung to relieve labour pains. In ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, drinking urine was thought to relieve kidney and liver problems. And less than 150 years ago, here in Australia, lying inside the decomposing corpse of a whale was thought to relieve rheumatic pain!  


Introducing evidence-based medicine

These days, you’d look at any doctor who prescribed one of those ‘treatments’. That’s because we now rely on evidence-based medicine (EBM), a process that integrates clinical experience and patient values with the best available research evidence. 

But not all evidence is equal. That’s why we also consider the level or quality of the evidence

At the lowest level are expert opinions or case studies. These are observations drawn from clinical practice and, while they have value, there could be many possible explanations for the findings. An observation about a few patients can’t be generalised to all patients. 

At the top level are large-scale, rigorously conducted double-blind randomised controlled trials which aim to be as objective as possible. ‘Blinding’ involves not telling patients which treatment they’re receiving and not telling the researchers either until the end of the study. Findings from studies like these are considered highly reliable and applicable to many patients. 

In between, are a number of other types of study. When reviewing evidence, researchers will assess its quality. They’ll ask questions like: 

  • Was the study in animals or people? 
  • What kinds of patients were studied? E.g. veterans, young adults, seniors, migraine patients
  • How many patients were in the study? Was it 10, 50, 200 or 3,000? 
  • Were there any side effects to the treatment? 
  • How reliable are these findings? Could anything else explain them? 


Scientific research into alternative medicine

There have been many studies into alternative medicine and more are being published each week. Often these are small studies but each one adds to our understanding of alternative medicine. 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) notes that “…the amount of evidence is currently limited and the products, doses and research methods used vary between studies. This makes it difficult to come to firm conclusions…”

So, should we wait? Not prescribe alternative medicine at all until we have a fabulous array of trials all proving fantastic results for every clinical condition in question? 

No. Real-world evidence also has a place. Tens of thousands of Australian patients are already being prescribed alternative medicine to treat chronic pain. As the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) notes “Many have legitimate lived experience of lasting pain reduction with alternative medicine that is not easily disregarded.” 

So, we use the evidence we do have and we step forward cautiously, starting with low doses and moving slowly to see if it is helping you. Over time, that generates further research questions, more studies are conducted and we gradually have a stronger evidence base. 

At this stage, there is evidence to support the use of alternative medicine as a second-line treatment or as an adjunct therapy (additional treatment) for various conditions. To help patients and clinicians stay abreast of the latest research into alternative medicine use, Lullaby Health’s Dr Dev Banerjee provides a weekly update on his LinkedIn page

At this stage, based on its review of the evidence, the TGA states that alternative medicine “…should be used only when approved treatments have been tried and have failed to manage conditions and symptoms.”

That’s how we approach alternative medicine at Lullaby Health. 


Alternative medicine at Lullaby Health

At Lullaby Health, we are focused on finding solutions to your healthcare concerns to improve your quality of life. 

Alternative medicine is not a first-line treatment. Rather it is used in conjunction with the mainstream treatment for your condition. 


Breaking the stigma

Alternative medicine also has a bit of an undeserved reputation problem. 

Morphine is prescribed carefully to manage severe pain when other options are not effective or cannot be used. Most people recognise a clear distinction between morphine and its street-drug cousin, heroin. 

Cocaine derivatives are used as a topical local anaesthetic. Again, though, this seems worlds away from the street. 

And yet, alternative medicine still evokes images of illegal use to get high. That image persists even though many alternative medicine products do not contain the substance that causes a high. Unlike illegally grown marijuana, alternative medicine grown under careful controls to ensure accurate dosing. It is a prescription drug, produced with the same care given to other prescription drugs (and under the same regulations). It is nothing like street marijuana. 


Access a better way with Lullaby Health

Lullaby Health helps you access a better way. Where clinically indicated, we’re able to prescribe alternative medicine as part of your overall care, offering a way to ease symptoms and improve quality of life for many patients. 

Please book an appointment today.   



Lullaby Health is not promoting the use of medical cannabis. Medical cannabis does affect every person differently, due to factors such as size, weight, health, dosage, tolerance, and age. Medical cannabis might not work for you, and you might experience side effects. Information provided by Lullaby Health is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please refer to your doctor. Medical cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.

Everything you and your doctor need to know about plant medicine
Everything you and your doctor need to know about alternative medicine

Alternative medicine is still relatively new in Australia meaning that you (and your doctor) may have questions about it. 

Lullaby Health’s doctors are highly experienced prescribers of alternative medicine. Here, we answer some of the most common questions we’re asked about it. 


Is it legal? 

Yes. In 2016, Australia legalised the use of alternative medicine on prescription. 


Can any doctor prescribe alternative medicine? 

Yes…but it’s a little more complicated than prescribing other medications. 

Only a couple of alternative medicine drugs are included in Australia’s register of therapeutic goods. That means most alternative medicine is currently classed as an ‘unapproved therapeutic good’ and doctors need special permission to prescribe it. 

They can do this in two ways: 

  • Applying to the Special Access Scheme for each patient they treat
  • Becoming an Authorised Prescriber, meaning they have received permission to treat patients as they see fit and don’t need permission for each individual patient (Lullaby Health doctors are authorised prescribers). 


Can’t I just buy some online? 

We understand the temptation but no.  

Firstly, self-diagnosis is problematic. Your doctor is trained to assess your condition, consider all the available treatments and recommend a way forward that meets your needs and your broader situation (such as your job requirements). In rushing to diagnose yourself and obtain the treatment you think best, you may easily miss something. 

Secondly, as you’ll be ordering from overseas, your package must go through customs – who are authorised to seize it as it can only be imported by licensed doctors, not consumers. You’ll probably just lose the money you’ve paid. 


How is it different from street versions? 

In so many ways. All medicines – including alternative medicine – are highly regulated and subject to strict quality controls. That’s vital to ensure consistency and stability so that each dose is the same. 

None of those safeguards exists for street versions. They may be contaminated by pesticides, fertilisers or heavy metals found in soil and they may vary considerably in their strength, which may cause more intense effects than you anticipated. 


What might alternative medicine help with? 

Alternative medicine aims to complement the mainstream care you’re receiving for your health needs. 

Mainstream treatment tends to have a stronger evidence base and a longer history of clinical use, giving us greater confidence in its effectiveness. However, some patients may find that they’re still battling troublesome symptoms or that the mainstream treatment itself causes unpleasant side effects. 

This is where alternative medicine may play a role. It may help to alleviate some of the symptoms that still trouble you, such as sleep difficulties or nausea. 


How does alternative medicine work? 

Alternative medicine interacts with a vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors densely packed throughout your brain and body. This network helps to regulate many important aspects of your life, such as your appetite, temperature or alertness, for example. 

The active ingredients in alternative medicine bind to some of those receptors, influencing aspects such as pain or sleep.


How do you take alternative medicine? 

While street versions are usually smoked, legal alternative medicine is often taken by mouth in the form of oils, pills or dried flower products.  


What’s the difference between CBD and THC? 

CBD and THC are the two most common active ingredients in alternative medicine. THC is the chemical that gets people high. CBD does not cause intoxication.


How pricey is it? 

The vast majority of alternative medicine products have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and so are not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

If you have private health insurance, your fund may cover your treatment but may set an annual limit or a maximum rebate per prescription. 

So, yes, you’re likely to have some out-of–pocket costs for your treatment. At Lullaby Health, we explain your likely costs before you decide to proceed with treatments so that you can make an informed financial decision. 


Are there any side effects? 

All medicines have side effects that some patients may experience. Common side effects of alternative medicine include:

  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea 
  • Fever
  • Changes to appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhoea. 

In addition, THC may cause:

  • Convulsions
  • Highs and lows
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Thinking things that aren’t true (cognitive distortions). 


What about driving? 

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation states that, if your medicine contains only CBD, you can legally drive – as long as your ability to drive is not affected. That introduces a grey area so it’s important to be aware of the laws in your state.

It is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in your system. THC is intoxicating.  It can impair your driving ability and create a sense of being high. In fact, even if you don’t feel high (CBD can moderate that), you can still be impaired

Be aware that THC can stay in your system for a long time. THC can be detected in your saliva for 6 hours-3 days after use and in your blood or urine for up to a month. 


How can Lullaby Health help? 

At Lullaby Health, we aim to help you find a solution for the difficulties you face. Unlike many other clinics, we offer a high level of ongoing support as you adjust to alternative medicine. 

With us, you have access to experienced doctors who can help you understand how alternative medicine works and how it may help you. Our goal is not simply to dash off a prescription but to help you find a way through the difficulties you’re facing. 

Please contact us to find out more. 



Lullaby Health is not promoting the use of medical cannabis. Medical cannabis does affect every person differently, due to factors such as size, weight, health, dosage, tolerance, and age. Medical cannabis might not work for you, and you might experience side effects. Information provided by Lullaby Health is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please refer to your doctor. Medical cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.



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