Author Interview "Dr. Thomas G. O'Brien II"
Since receiving his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in 1995, Doc Tommy has devoted his life to not just treating his patients but educating them so they can improve their lifestyle through healthier choices. Doc Tommy is known for his ability to explain complex medical problems in simple terms so that every patient can understand and help control their well-being. Additionally, Doc Tommy earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from the New York Institute of Technology.
Talk about your new book “Medical Marijuana Real Life Success Stories.” My book, Medical Marijuana, Real-life success stories, is a dream come true for me. I always wanted to write a book where I could educate people who I was unable to reach through only my practice. Through the stories in my book, I am able to explain to the reader how medical marijuana can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of many medical conditions. My hope is that people throughout the country will be able to relate to the case studies and hopefully be able to find the relief they need.
What made you decide to treat patients with medical marijuana?
I was introduced to the concept of using medical marijuana to treat patients by a colleague of mine. He felt that this natural approach would be in align with the method by which I practice medicine. After researching the information that was available on the use of medical marijuana, I was convinced that this natural treatment would benefit my patients.
What are the typical conditions that medical marijuana can help with?
In July 2014, New York State legalized the use of Medical Marijuana. At this time, New York State passed the Compassionate Care Act of New York which allowed the use of Medical Marijuana to treat a variety of medical conditions: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Cancer, Epilepsy, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Huntington's Chorea, Irritable Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Neuropathy, Parkinson's Disease, and Spinal Cord Injury. Since its initial passage, New York State has expanded the list of medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana to include Chronic Pain, Opoid Addictions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Can you provide a few compelling patient stories?
In the past four year, since I began using medical marijuana, to treat patients, I have certified more than 1000 patients. While all my patients have at least one of the qualifying conditions, each one has a unique story to tell. In my book, I give the reader an in-depth look into the journeys that 12 of my patient have travelled while under my care and being treated using medical marijuana. They will read about an individual who went from being unable to go out on a date due to Irritable Bowel Disease to now being engaged and on the way to the altar. They will learn how a patient who was suffering from chronic pain and opiod abuse is now pain free, and more importantly, narcotic free. And they will read about a World Trade Center first responder who developed a 9/11 related cancer who was able to take control of their final days and was able to die with the dignity they deserved. These are just a small glimpse into the stories that have been shared in my book. To truly understand the roads these patients have travelled and how medical marijuana was able to guide their way, it is important to read the whole stories that have been told through the pages in my book.
How does medical marijuana work in the body? / What are the active ingredients in marijuana and how do they work together to help patients? Within the marijuana plant, there are 400 different chemicals, 70 of them have been shown to have medicinal properties. The two main chemicals used for medicinal purposes are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the chemical in marijuana that has psychoactive properties and causes the "stoner's high.” CBD is the chemical in marijuana that has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmatic and anti-angiogenesis properties. None of CBD's properties would lead to a feeling of being "high". With a new CBD-dominant strain that has little, if any at all, intoxicating effects, the medicinal qualities of the marijuana plant can be better utilized. Due to the limited amount of THC in these plants within this CBD-dominant strain, there is very little “high” effect. Structurally, both THC and CBD look almost identical. However, CBD is lacking one bond which changes the characteristic of the chemical. What this means is THC and CBD have different neurotransmitter receptors. THC has cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors, which are primarily found in the central nervous system. CBD has cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors, which are found mostly in the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, smooth muscle tissue, and adipose tissue (fat cells). Those fat cells are important, because the chemical can get stored there, and the fat acts as a natural slow release mechanism. As a result, each of these two chemicals will produce different medical benefits. THC helps with neuropathic pain relief, fights and kills cancer cells, and stimulates appetite as well as works as a sleep aid. CBD benefits include anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anti-anxiety effects, as well as the reduction in dull achy pain. Additionally, CBD has anti-angiogenesis properties which results in the shrinkage and killing of cancer cells.
How is medical marijuana administered to patients? In the State of New York, there are three delivery systems that are available. First, there is a vapor or e-pen, much like the popular e-cigarettes, with an onset of action in about 90-seconds, lasting around three hours. The second delivery system is a tincture, which is a sublingual (under the tongue) drop. Onset of action is about 20 minutes, and this lasts about four hours, depending on the patient’s metabolism. Finally, we have gel capsules that take effect after an hour and a half, lasting four to six hours.
What do you want your readers to learn/take away from your book? I want the reader to know that, no matter what you’re going through in life, there is help and compassion in the world. I want them to have the facts so that they can live a better and healthier life. I want this book to serve as a tool that helps me give back to those in need. I am more than just a physician. I am an educator who wants to make sure that everybody, not only my patients and their families, has an understanding of how the right doctor and the use of Medical Marijuana can improve quality of life.
This book, Medical Marijuana: Real Life Success Stories, is for those of you who are looking for an alternative, either for yourself or for a loved one. And, I hope the information inside serves as a support and a hug from me, and all the people I have worked with and practiced for. It is my hope that you will find community in this book, and have better information that you can use to make good decisions about your health, or help someone you love who is currently struggling. I can’t diagnose you here. I can only educate, and this book is designed to do that. So, the contents of this book are for educational purposes only. Nor, can I treat you via this book. What I will do is describe how patients who have visited me in my practice have benefited from the use of medical cannabis, and how medical cannabis works in the body. My job, through this book, is to inform and educate, and let you know that you’re not alone.