Medical Marijuana Changing the Course of Medicine
The cannabis sativa plant—better known as marijuana—is one of the oldest agricultural crops cultivated by humans. But during the first half of the 1900s, the plant developed a bad rap, and in 1937, it became illegal to grow and use marijuana in the United States. Today, however, the stigma surrounding marijuana is going up in smoke as its medicinal uses become more widely known and accepted, and health professionals seek alternatives to addictive prescription narcotics to treat pain. Pennsylvania is now among 29 states where a certified physician can prescribe medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, as well as conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, neuropathy, autism, PTSD and more.
Mikhail Artamonov, M.D.—also known as “Dr. A”—founder of MJA Healthcare Network and Regenerative Medicine of America network, has a complex and woven background but is guided by one simple credo: the practice of good medicine. He believes that new medical technologies not only make medicine more effective, but they can actually make it more personal. Artamonov offers cutting edge pain management services, regenerative medicine, anti-aging, weight loss and stem cell therapy. He also provides patient evaluations for the use of medical marijuana.
Artamonov is board certified in eight different areas of medicine including pain, addiction, functional, regenerative, obesity and brain medicine. He co-authored the book Pot Luck: Why Marijuana Is Today’s Medicine several years ago and says that during the short time that medicinal marijuana has been legally accessible in Pennsylvania, he’s seen very good results through the medical marijuana program.
“The main benefit of marijuana is that it’s very safe. There’s no way to overdose,” Artamonov says. “It’s a natural substance. There is also an abundance of cannabinoid receptors in the human body, all part of the endocannabinoid system, which allows our cells to naturally accept cannabinoid.”
Through traditional pharmaceutical approaches, multiple ailments often lead to a patient having a medicine cabinet full of separate pills for each health issue, but Artamonov says marijuana addresses several symptoms all at once. “It’s a safer, natural way, and you can also save money because you don’t need to buy several prescriptions month after month,” he notes.
Artamonov recommends medical marijuana for all 17 approved serious medical conditions such as severe chronic pain; cancer symptoms; post-traumatic stress disorder; Crohn’s Disease; glaucoma; autism and more; however, he has also noticed its significant effect on reducing insomnia and anxiety. He says that the State of Pennsylvania has been very supportive of the medical marijuana program since its implementation, and most patients get approved quickly for medical marijuana use.
Artamonov adds that medical marijuana is a highly regulated industry, and there is tight quality control standards on marijuana products sold for medicinal use. “Every batch is tested through a lab, not only for concentration for tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH) and cannabidiol (CBD), but also for purity, heavy metals and pesticides,” he says. Although CBD oil, made from the non-hallucinogenic properties of the cannabis plant, has been getting much attention lately for its wellness properties, Dr. A points out that CBD oil is classified as a supplement, so there is no quality control, and some companies might not thoroughly scrutinize and test their CBD products.
With chronic pain prominent among so many Americans, pain management has become a specialty among physicians, and Artamonov observes that many doctors in the United States are being trained with the belief that pain is something that has to be eliminated completely. “It’s a popular idea, and it’s been completely supported by Big Pharma, which is why opioid use has increased dramatically since the 1990s,” he says. “Companies have introduced these medications without fully disclosing the side effects and addictive properties; hence today’s opioid epidemic, which includes not just prescribed medications, but also street heroin and fentanyl.”
Artamonov is optimistic that the pendulum is starting to swing from commercial pharmaceutical drugs, to safer and more effective alternatives such as medical marijuana, as well as regenerative medicine, which he also offers at MJA Healthcare. Regenerative medicine includes cutting-edge remedies such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell rejuvenation. These natural, non-surgical procedures use photoactivation and cytokine therapy to regenerate tissues by strengthening and stimulating the body’s own healing processes before any damage to the ligament, tendon and joint can increase and become irreversible.
These types of treatments allow people suffering from different painful conditions such as chronic osteoarthritis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, or injuries from sports or accidents to avoid reliance on painkillers or invasive surgery, thus eliminating the need for joint replacement. The PRP and stem cell therapy procedures are done in the office, and recovery time is less than traditional surgery. Improvements are typically seen within a several weeks.
“As we move away from opioids and steroids and shift toward cannabinoids and stem cells, we are not just trying to replace, but also stop, long-term drug abuse and dependency,” Artamonov explains. “There are a number of alternatives to approach pain, not just with cannabinoids to ease the pain, but to also rejuvenate through stem cell therapy and PRP therapy, which restores function at the painful source. I think is a well-rounded approach that can change the course of pain management in this country.”
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout country.