Dr. Mark Kurzman: “Hope and a positive attitude are essential components on the road to recovery regardless of the condition the person has”
…I believe that hope and a positive attitude are essential components on the road to recovery regardless of the condition the person has. I try my best to help my patients be hopeful and have a positive attitude even when they are facing very difficult challenges. It breaks my heart when a patient will come to the office and say Dr. So and So said I have x amount of time left. One of the best things my mentor, does when someone tells him that is, he has them stand up and turn around in a circle, he then tells them that he does not see any expiration date tagged to them. The point being, is no one knows the answer to when a person’s time will come, so lets be hopeful and do everything we can to move forward and live life.
As a part of my series about “the 5 Things you should consider before using cannabis as a medical treatment ”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mark Kurzman, M.D.. Dr. Kurzman grew up in New York City to the sound of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones tunes playing on the radio. In another life, he might have been a drummer, playing with his band in Madison Square Garden, healing the world with his sweet melodies. That said, being a physician is truly his dream job. It combines his lifelong fascination with biology and physiology, as well as his innate passion to help people and make the world a better place. Dr. Kurzman is excited to be working to help make everyone’s dreams of good health and wellness become their new reality. Dr. Kurzman received his medical degree from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences AHEC-SW program in Texarkana, Arkansas. Dr. Kurzman completed a year of post doctoral training in cannabis medicine with Dr. Allan Frankel, one of the foremost experts in this field. Dr. Kurzman then began working with Dr. Allan Frankel at Greenbridge Medical in Santa Monica, CA. Now, he uses medical cannabis in the forms of sprays and capsules to treat a number of conditions. Some of those conditions include anxiety and insomnia, seizures, chronic pain, cancer, migraines, fibromyalgia, autism, and irritable bowel disease. Dr. Kurzman believes in treating the person as a whole and not just as a list of symptoms. He is also a firm believer in lifestyle medicine, which promotes lifestyle changes including eating healthy and exercising in order to treat many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol as well as managing anxiety. When you meet Dr. Kurzman, you’ll see he’s always up for an adventure and meeting new people… especially when traveling to different places around the world; he’s already been to Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Europe, and Israel, and can’t wait to add India to the list!
Thank you so much for doing this with us Mark! Can you share with the ‘backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis space?
In two words: My Wife.
She began using whole plant cannabis to treat her migraines. She went from having 15 migraines per month to 1 migraine every three months. Needless to say, I was intrigued. I then began reading research articles about the benefits of whole plant cannabis and migraines as well as other disorders.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
A young patient of mine was diagnosed with a diffuse midline glioma which was being treated like a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The patient had received radiation therapy and was taking the standard chemotherapy for this cancer. When I saw her the cancer was stable but still present, we added whole plant cannabis to her regimen. In the 7 months since adding the cannabis she has had a marked decrease in the size of the tumor and is clinically doing well.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am exploring research opportunities in using cannabis to help with drug addiction.
CBD can help decrease cravings and help treat anxiety and whole plant cannabis can help with withdrawal symptoms of certain drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines. I am also exploring using cannabis to help treat people’s pain and help them decrease (and at times) stop their use of opioids.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have had the amazing opportunity to learn from and work with Dr. Allan Frankel, a key leader in the medical cannabis industry. I am so grateful for his expertise and his guidance in using medical cannabis to treat different diseases.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
I chose to work with Dr. Frankel, a key leader in the medical cannabis industry, and grow our business together. I am proud to work with him as his practice continues to grow thanks to industry press, online coverage and doctor referrals. He has seen thousands of patients and treated them with dosed medical cannabis. In addition, working with community organizations to grow the message of medical cannabis as a mainstream medical treatment is invaluable.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry?
1. Medical cannabis emerging as a new field of medicine. There is a lot of exciting data showing how cannabis can be effective as medical treatment for a number of diseases. For example, whole plant cannabis can help treat Anxiety, Insomnia, Migraines, Cancer, Chronic Pain, IBD, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Seizures, Autism, PTSD, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, as well as Myasthenia Gravis.
2. The development of new whole plant cannabis medicines. There are a few companies developing whole plant cannabis oil to be taken as capsules or sublingually.
3. Research opportunities in cannabis medicine. Fortunately, there are really good institutions and researchers looking into the benefits of medical cannabis. One such institution is Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research at the Technion‘s Faculty of Biology.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
- Lack of regulation regarding different cannabis products. Unfortunately, there is not enough regulation and transparency in companies developing new cannabis products. I can only do my job effectively when I know exactly what is in the patients’ medicine.
- It being difficult to tell the difference between whole plant cannabis, Hemp CBD, Distillate or Isolate.
- Companies developing products without thinking about the medical market and not consulting physicians regarding product development.
As a doctor, can you please share 5 things one should think about before exploring using cannabis as a medical treatment?
- It’s very hard for consumers/patients to figure out how to get the correct medicine/product. A mother of a patient with autism was looking for a specific ratio of THC:CBD that would be whole plant cannabis that was helping her son with his symptoms . She was advised by a dispensary to get THC-Acid and CBD- Acid instead of THC and CBD. As a result, the child began to do worse until we switched back to the correct oil. He’s now doing better. Because of stories like this I feel that it is really important to seek physician advice when using medical cannabis. At Greenbridge Medical, we are experts in dosing medical cannabis and treating patients.
- Whole Plant CBD versus Hemp CBD. Whole plant cannabis has 144 cannabinoids, 200 Terpenes, Flavonoids, and 500 active molecules. Hemp CBD is single molecule CBD without any other components. It has been shown that whole plant cannabis is more effective than Hemp CBD to treat various disorders. Many people try Hemp CBD without trying whole plant cannabis for their ailments.
- Conditions that can be treated effectively using cannabis. Whole plant cannabis can help treat Anxiety, Insomnia, Migraines, Cancer, Chronic Pain, IBD, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Seizures, Autism, PTSD, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other autoimmune diseases as well as Myasthenia Gravis.
- Endocannabinoid System. We have an endocannabinoid system in our bodies that interacts with the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. We make molecules in our body called anandamide and 2-AG that are similar to THC and CBD respectively. We have cannabinoid receptors that interact with our endocannabinoids as well as the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) promotes homeostasis, which is a state of natural physiological balance in which there is neither an excess nor deficit of activity. The ECS regulates our neurons that fire along synapses. The endocannabinoid system has been found in our brain/central nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract-liver and pancreas, reproductive system, musculoskeletal system, skin, adrenal glands, lung tissue, and adipose tissue.
- Guidance from a Physician. Patients considering using cannabis as a medical treatment should be evaluated by a physician who is able to recommend the appropriate medicine and dosage for their condition.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Help each person utilize their strengths to the fullest. Compliment people on a job well done and thank them for their hard work.
If you could inspire movement that could bring the most good to the most amount of people what would that be?
I’m not sure about inspiring movements, but at Greenbridge we give a little bit of cannabis and a lot of hope. I believe that hope and a positive attitude are essential components on the road to recovery regardless of the condition the person has. I try my best to help my patients be hopeful and have a positive attitude even when they are facing very difficult challenges. It breaks my heart when a patient will come to the office and say Dr. So and So said I have x amount of time left. One of the best things Dr. Frankel, my mentor, does when someone tells him that is, he has them stand up and turn around in a circle, he then tells them that he does not see any expiration date tagged to them. The point being, is no one knows the answer to when a person’s time will come, so lets be hopeful and do everything we can to move forward and live life.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I’m new to social media, so I’d love the follows!
- Instagram: @drmarkkurzman
- Twitter: @drmarkkurzman
- Facebook: @drmarkkurzman
Dr. Mark Kurzman: “Hope and a positive attitude are essential components on the road to recovery… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.