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CBD oil – what you need to know

In partnership with Dr Hamish Black

We break down the benefits and side effects of CBD oil

An older man who's suffering from stress and pain sitting at his table with CDD oil
An older man who's suffering from stress and pain sitting at his table with CDD oil

Cannabis products, including CBD oil, have been receiving a lot of attention around the globe in the past few years. So what’s the deal with cannabis in Australia, and why is there lots of talk about CBD oil in particular? Get ready, because we’re going to break down exactly what you need to know about CBD oil.

At nib, we consider ourselves your health partner – answering some of the biggest questions you might have. So, we spoke with Dr Hamish Black, nib’s Group Medical Advisor who has more than 25 years as a medical practitioner under his belt, to get the lowdown on who can get CBD oil, it's benefits and side effects.

What is CBD oil?

Medicinal cannabis products are derived from the cannabis plant and their active ingredients are cannabidiol (CBD) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana comes from the same plant, but it isn’t considered a medicine.

Is CBD oil legal in Australia?

CBD oil and other medicinal cannabis products were legalised in Australia in 2016 and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates their supply. Because there’s insufficient evidence about the effectiveness of CBD oil in treating different medical conditions, most products aren’t registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

This means that there isn’t an official list of conditions CBD oil is approved for. A patient who wishes to obtain it needs to talk to their doctor. If the doctor believes their patient could benefit from CBD oil, they can apply to the TGA for approval to write them a script.

A man in his 60s suffering from back pain and stretching his spine as he drinks his coffee in the kitchen

The benefits of CBD oil

“It’s commonly believed that studies have conclusively shown CBD oil will do more good than harm for multiple conditions including chronic pain, but that isn’t true,” says Hamish.

While the evidence is still unclear, CBD oil is sometimes used to manage:

  • Arthritis pain

  • Nerve pain

  • Neck and lower back pain

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Symptoms related to cancer treatment, such as nausea and reduced appetite

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • Epilepsy

  • Palliative care

“While it is currently prescribed for a range of conditions, further research is needed to know what, if any, benefits there are,” says Hamish.

The side effects of CBD oil

“One of the most common myths about CBD oil is that because it’s derived from a plant it can’t do any harm,” says Hamish.

The truth is that CBD oil can have a range of side effects, including:

  • Difficulty concentrating and thinking

  • Dizziness

  • Balance disturbance

  • Memory problems

  • Drowsiness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fever

  • Decreased or increased appetite

  • Dry mouth

  • Diarrhoea

Patients shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while they’re taking CBD oil. It also isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant, people with psychotic or mood disorders and people with unstable cardiovascular disease.

Related stories

For more information on the use of CBD oil and other medicinal cannabis products in Australia, visit the following links:

You can also find information about the specific laws in your state by visiting:

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black

In partnership with

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black has been a medical practitioner for more than 25 years. In addition to his role as nib group medical advisor, he still spends two days a week practising as a GP. He has spent many years working in emergency departments and in rural Australia, including a stint with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Hamish also loves karaoke and dancing (though not that well at either, he says!), with Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry being his karaoke favourite.