When California Head & Neck Surgeon Dr. Babak Larian of MDbio realized that some of his more fragile senior patients were sailing through radiation, and his 40-something buff males were having a hard time pushing past, he began asking some of his seemingly healthier patients what their secret was.
“Some of my patients would giggle and not answer me,” he shared. “Then one elderly woman finally admitted to me that her grandson was rolling her joints. She said it gave her an appetite; she was less anxious, used less narcotics, and wasn’t in pain or depressed.”
Dr. Larian began noticing this was a common thread that was happening more and more over the past 10 years, as cannabis became more accepted in the mainstream via legalization across the country.
One myth of legalization is that more people will become wasted, with crime on the rise—and what about the children? But the reality of legalization is that more people feel comfortable to experiment, and that edibles taken to get high for recreation become medical very quickly if a patient is experiencing illness or pain, with symptoms quelled and little to no negative side effects.
Board Certified, Self Educated on the eCS
Dr. Larian is a Board Certified Surgeon and the Chairman and Director of the Center for Advanced Head & Neck Surgery in Los Angeles. Earning academic and humanitarian distinctions from the UC Irvine School of Medicine, Dr. Larian completed a six-year residency in Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Nationally renowned for his expertise in minimally invasive surgery techniques in the treatment of parathyroid disorders, Dr. Larian was the Clinical Chief of the Division of Otolaryngology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from 2009 to 2011.
“After repeatedly witnessing cannabis patients doing better than those who didn’t use the herb, I began to educate myself on the Endocannabinoid System, as there was no mention of it in medical school,” he explained. “No one even knew what it was, but more and more the common thread was, these patients were having an easier time during serious treatments.”
Dr. David Allen is a surgeon who educated himself on the Endocannabinoid System (eCS), stating that many of the surgeries over the past 30 years he performed may have been unnecessary.
“I took it upon myself to phone up medical schools, asking if they have the eCS in its curriculum,” he said. “Out of 157 schools queried, just 13% said they merely mention the system that works with plant compounds to keep us healthy.”
The eCS was discovered in 1992 by Lumir Hanus, a Czech analytical chemist working in famed cannabinoid researcher Raphael Mechoulam’s lab in Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with American pharmacologist, William Devane.
The two isolated the first known endocannabinoid in the human brain, naming it anandamide, after the Sanskrit word for joy or bliss. The discovery of these receptors resulted in the uncovering of naturally occurring neurotransmitters that are endocannabinoids.
Eastern Mentality in the Western World
“We didn’t evolve to take high doses of anything; we evolved with plants,” Dr. Larian continued. “In Guatemala, there’s a tree and its bark lowers blood pressure. They’ve been using it for thousands of years, passed down through generations.”
We evolved to eat plants, and Dr. Larian said that the compounds within them have myriad benefits to address many issues, helping to bring the body back into balance.
“That’s really what this is all about—balance,” he added. “The presumption that we need to take medications to treat everything is faulty, at best. Getting your body in balance with natural practices, such as healthy eating and exercise, that’s where you start.”
The daily stressors of life, Dr. Larian said, adds to our bevy of human illnesses–along with the toxins in our environment and empty foods that can cause inflammation and infection.
“The masses are under duress from many directions and its making us sick” he concluded. “We’ve gotten accustomed to plentifulness, and that’s not always good for us. We used to forage our meals with many plant compounds in our diet. We’d catch a fish, maybe a rabbit every once in a while. We didn’t evolve to eat as much meat as we do today.”
The doctors of MDbio are all schooled in the U.S., but hail from the Middle East, with Persian customs that include centuries of plant-based medicines.
“My family traditionally used plants as medicine,” Dr. Siamak Tabib said. “Remedies were passed down from grandparents to parents to children. I began realizing that cannabis has the whole conglomerate of beneficial compounds within it when Dr. Larian began telling us how many of his own patients were doing better clinically than those who weren’t using the plant during traditional treatments.”
Dr. Tabib is a graduate of the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and a fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the combined UCLA/Cedars-Sinai medical program. A Board Certified Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Dr. Tabib has a private practice in Beverly Hills/West Los Angeles and also serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA.
Dr. Tabib said he began looking into his patients’ use of cannabis, with surprising results.
“I gently brought up the topic to my patients and was surprised to find out that a good number of them were already using cannabinoid therapies, but were afraid to tell me about it,” he said. “They thought it might be an issue in my taking care of them—but what it did was inspire me to learn more.”
What he found was his own patients were silently and successfully treating colitis, Crohn’s Disease, inflammatory bowl disease and more—including quelling any negative side effects from the pharmaceuticals he was prescribing.
It’s long been known in the cannabis community that patients are already treating illnesses with cannabis and other plants, waiting for doctors and legislatures to catch up. When doctors listen to their patients, then get educated, it propels the entire movement forward, because the healing can’t be denied.
“I started attending lectures, going to cannabis conferences, and learning all I could about this plant and its many uses,” he said. “We all learned a lot, but then, where do we go from here? Once my patients trusted me to talk to me about it, I then needed to learn about dosing—how many milligrams for what ailment? I honestly didn’t know. How could I? I couldn’t say, just go smoke some weed.”
The doctors felt it was their duty to help their patients figure out how to most effectively use cannabis–not to necessarily replace pharmaceuticals, but help them navigate using the plant with the treatments they offered.
“I think there’s a role cannabis can play in replacing pharmaceuticals, but what we’ve witnessed first hand is the actual reduction of many pharmaceuticals, including addictive painkillers when using cannabis in tandem,” Tabib said. “We just needed to compile evidence at this point–not just to prove the efficacy of cannabis, but also to aid us in further developing formulations and dosing to help our patients who were already treating themselves.”
Trials and Tribulations
The board-certified doctors, who include a urological oncological surgeon, founder of the Comprehensive Urology Medical Group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Tower in Los Angeles; and foot and ankle surgeon Kamran Jamshidinia, resident training specialist, also at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, began looking at clinical trials, not just their own patient observations, and noted a correlation of advanced healing.
“We took more than three years to research and formulate what we felt was a good start,” Dr. Tabib said. “We’re still developing our formulations per our patient’s needs. It was a grueling process, but we needed the science to be right. All the while, our patients were asking, ‘Do you have something for us yet?’”
Important to note, these doctors aren’t just white-labeling a CBD product with their name on it. With MDbio’s own observational studies from their own patients—who initially taught them—they are now in the process of running clinical studies in order to keep improving the products.
So far, the brand includes four formulations using whole-plant CBD in gel capsules: MDcalm, MDsleep, MDimmune+, and MDrelief, targeting sleep, pain, anxiety, and prevention via immune system building.
There is not just full-spectrum Hemp CBD (hybridized cannabis cultivar high in cannabidiol) in each product, but a combination of healing herbs that actually increase the efficacy of the CBD for the issue at hand.
For instance, MDrelief includes white willow bark and frankincense in the mix. White willow bark’s active ingredient is salicin, the stuff German pharmaceutical company Bayer created Aspirin with to treat arthritis in 1899. Not just incense for the baby Jesus, frankincense is a medicinal compound said to reduce pain via anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to improve gut function, aid in bronchial afflictions, and is said to be an antioxidant—or a compound that kills cancer cells.
“What we’ve found so far is remarkable efficacy from these products that we’ve held back long enough,” Dr. Tabib concluded. “While I don’t think cannabis can cure everything in the world, in conjunction with a lot of other therapies, the results have been stunning.”
For more information visit mdbiowellness.com.