Medical Marijuana: What’s Medically Correct? with Dr. Rebecca Siegel

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

With all the conflicting information out there concerning the use of medical marijuana and CBD, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen continue their discussion with Dr. Rebecca Siegel on all things CBD. This episode focuses on the health benefits of using CBD, as well as its side effects.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years. Using tools like brain SPECT imaging, to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, welcome back. We are having this robust discussion about THC and CBD and use it, don't use it. It's innocuous and should be legal everywhere. Actually, we've had that fight on this podcast ...
Tana Amen: Many times.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Where I actually think it should be legal because ...
Tana Amen: Yeah, but you said we, you said we think it should be legal and I'm like, do you have a mouse in your pocket?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's not put people who are smoking pot in jail. That just sounds insane, to me. And then Tana ...
Tana Amen: We do not think it should be legal.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Tana does not agree with me.
Tana Amen: At all.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which I would say it was a rare event, but it's definitely not rare. Doctor Siegel's licensed in the state of New York to prescribe it.
Tana Amen: Her preference which she said in the last episode, was that she prefers it to be something that is prescribed.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Somebody who's working closely with a physician, who understands the potential benefits, but also the potential risks.
Tana Amen: One of the reasons, which you just told us, is because yesterday you had what?
Dr Rebecca Siegel: I saw a 29 year old woman, who came to us after a marijuana induced psychosis.
Tana Amen: Very important. Marijuana induced psychosis.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: Incredibly sad, incredibly difficult. Incredibly anxiety producing for her, obviously, and for her family. It affected the whole family. She was reportedly abusing marijuana, which we don't know. We assume that means THC and maybe some CBD, maybe not, but multiple times a day. She said, in fact at the latest time she was doing it almost all day. She said the anxiety that she began to feel, she felt that marijuana could help that, will alleviate that, which was obviously not the case. She ended up hospitalized. They put her on all kinds of different medications to treat the psychosis, which started her on a whole other cycle of complication. She was put on anti-psychotic medication. Exactly. People, others incredibly devastated.
This was a high functioning woman who said she was put on a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic. That's where I saw her. She was improving because she had stopped marijuana smoking entirely and by the way, it was smoking which means, there are lots of different ways and forms that you can do. There's smoking the plant, we'll call the flower. There's vaping. There's taking it in capsule form. There's also, taking liquid under the tongue tincture.
Tana Amen: These new wax pens, aren't those like a concentrated form. The kids at school now, that's the thing they do, because there's no smoke involved. In fact, at the local high school that my daughter used to go to, she now home schools, there was a big scandal because they did a random search of all the lockers and the kids bags. The kids ran into the bathrooms and they stopped up all the toilets, because they were flushing their wax pens down the toilets.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: Exactly. [crosstalk 00:04:15]
Tana Amen: This is a problem.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Vaping is a national epidemic.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and a problem. In Pueblo, Colorado, so marijuana is now been legal, babies are being born positive with THC. That has actually gone up 1700%.
Tana Amen: Okay. And I'm sorry, that should just be criminal.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It is a form of child abuse.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The idea that marijuana is innocuous. We really need to stop that, because it's not innocuous. Now is there a place for it? We've already talked about for chronic pain, for ALS, for Huntington's, in specific cases of nonresponsive seizures.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I think that there is a place for it.
Tana Amen: Agreed.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm like the king of natural medications. Right? We own brain MD, which is a supplement company. We use things like Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Saffron, Ginseng. They have research behind them because of the politicalization of marijuana. It's not just that it was bad, there's a lot of politics if you understand the history of its banning in the United States. It's not been able to be appropriately studied. I know on Facebook we have some negative comments.
We always get them, with this. I just have to tell you, I've seen more brain scans than anybody in the history of the world, when it comes to psychiatric issues. Generally your brain's not healthy. I am talking today. Someone I saw three months ago had been smoking marijuana literally for 50 years. His brain at 70 looks like it's 95. It was clearly aged and it's not healthy. He stopped because of the scan.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm going to talk to him today because he feels anxious.
Tana Amen: Right. What else can he do?
Dr. Daniel Amen: 'Cause there's a psychological addiction to it. But, there's also a physiological, it physiologically changes your brain in a way that may not help you long term.
Tana Amen: Okay. You know I have to push back. I'm with Dr. Siegel, you just know I have to. I'm with Dr. Siegel on this, that it should be prescribed, because if you look at, since it's been legalized, first of all these companies are targeting lower income, low socioeconomic demographics.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Where are the marijuana dispensaries?
Tana Amen: Right. Okay. Unemployment in that population is going up. Teenagers have more accessibility. We do see, you already said, we see psychosis related to it. You both said that, with the study show it. Yeah, I'm not a fan. I think that if we're going to use it for the things that it is appropriate for, and clearly there are things it's appropriate for, it should be prescribed.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. We're hitting pretty hard on the negative part, but you've also seen some really positive stories. What comes to mind when I ask you to think about that?
Dr Rebecca Siegel: One of my favorite patients of all time has very, very serious Crohn's and Colitis. He's missed many, many days of work.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: He's suffered with cramps and with pain due to his conditions. He has found that medical marijuana has helped him tremendously. He feels better. He's able to go to work. He doesn't have the cramping. He doesn't have the pain that Crohn's and colitis ... It can be ...
Tana Amen: So debilitating. Yeah.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: That's been tremendous. That is, that's a very positive story. I've seen many. I've seen many positive stories, but I've also seen some very negative stories.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What is the theme behind the positive stories? Is there one that you can think about? Is there a consistent theme?
Dr Rebecca Siegel: I think that, as I see it, marijuana is an option. I see it that, people are looking for something to alleviate their pain, their emotional pain, their physical pain or psychological pain. It's an option. I would much rather people not use opiates or alcohol where liver damage and all kinds of other medical problems can occur. I do need, I do think it needs to be regulated. I think it needs ... These people need to be followed by physicians who understand cannabis and its effects. Have the dosing and the ratios [inaudible 00:09:17] THC to CBD.
Most physicians who are certified to prescribe this, don't have any idea. When people go into dispensaries, I don't want to knock people in the dispensaries, but the patients looking for help are asking the pharmacists in dispensaries, who may have little to no knowledge about what the effects are, what it can do. That I feel like is my role and I feel like that's the most important thing. I think first do no harm. As a physician, I want to be involved in it, to help people see that as an option but to be under controlled conditions.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: That's why I'm trying to learn as much as I can.
Tana Amen: Yeah. Because, you can then guide them through. If they are having a negative response, you can help guide them through it. You can give them a way out of it. You can point out that this is related to the actual marijuana use, it's not something else or it is something else. Whatever it is, you can then help them through that event, because it's scary for everyone around them. Believe me, I know this.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: The other thing is that everybody is affected by marijuana in a different way. Everyone's brain is different. Everyone's body is different.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Rebecca Siegel: Marijuana affects everyone differently. You can't generalize and say, this is going to help you with, everyone with anxiety.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I read a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It was about, many people think marijuana is innocuous but increases depression, suicide, psychosis in the young, as you said, marijuana companies target low income people, keeping them low income.
Tana Amen: They also target children like teenagers.
Dr. Daniel Amen: How I learned that, clinically, is I would often get 15, 16, 17 year old patients, who their mom and dad would bring them in because they thought they had ADD or ADHD. They didn't have ADD when they were 10 or 11 or 12 and when you look at their brain, it has this toxic look to it. I'm like, so when did you start smoking pot? And they go, oh, well, I never have. I'm like, but let's look at your scan. Your scan has, it looks like it's been assaulted. There's a toxic look to it.
Then, they'll start to cry and they'll go, you won't tell my parents. They'll talk about their marijuana use, how it calmed their anxiety. But, it then clearly decreased their ability to perform in school, because it can, not for everybody, but a significant number of people, lower their motivation.
One story just horrifies me. I saw this boy, who wouldn't stop. Despite seeing his scans, he would not stop and ended up having psychotic episodes. Later, I wasn't treating him at the time, but he killed himself. It's heartbreaking.
Tana Amen: Sometimes the disease wins.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes, sometimes the disease wins. I worry as people see this as innocuous, as a drug becomes innocuous, it's use goes up. My concern is, because of the lack of study, cocaine used to be legal. It was in Coca Cola. That's how it got its name. We unleash things on society without enough study. It can have a negative effect. All right, stay with us. We have one more session with Dr. Siegel, on CBD.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.