During a day at his office, I saw three patients who’d had success with CBD. The first was Sawyer Maddox, five, from Atlanta, who’d been diagnosed at three with a rare form of epilepsy, Doose Syndrome, which is resistant to medication. He was having more than 200 seizures a day, where he’d drop face first on the floor. His parents fitted him with a catcher’s mask for protection, and carpeted their home with foam to cushion his falls. The pediatric neurologist they saw in Atlanta gave him meds that made things worse. Desperate, the Maddoxes, a conservative Baptist family, flew to California to see Frankel. He started Sawyer on #1 oil, and three months later, the boy was seizure free.
CBD and other cannabinoids attach to specific receptors in the body found within what is referred to as the endocannabinoid system. In fact, up until recently, scientists didn’t know that these cannabinoids are actually naturally produced in humans and most animals. Some researchers speculate that an endocannabinoid deficiency may be the cause of many disorders and conditions. When CBD is introduced into the body, it binds to receptor cells called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
On the plus side, there is an earnest desire for people to lose weight, which is why the weight loss industry is worth an astonishing $66 billion! But this staggering number, added to the fact that fewer people are dieting and more are gaining weight, tells us two things: One, that weight loss supplements are fundamentally ineffective; and two, that they are very, very expensive.
When the endocannabinoid system becomes dysregulated, it often becomes overactive and too much fat is being stored, particularly in the intra-abdominal tissue. Cannabidiol is known to regulate the endocannabinoid system as it can restore balance in both directions. Therefore, the study concludes that, along with lifestyle changes cannabis could be a means of fighting obesity.
Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows a role for the endocannabinoid system in maintaining energy balance and glucose as well as lipoprotein metabolism, according to a 2009 study. Modulation of this system has resulted in an improvement in a number of important risk factors in clinical trials, including visceral and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue, glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia and measures of inflammation.
In 2007, he was investigated by the California Medical Board and in 2008, his license to practice was suspended. He fought this in court, losing his house to pay legal bills, and in 2011, his license was reinstated. During those “hard years,” he said, he hired other doctors to write recommendations for medical marijuana licenses, then Frankel advised the patients how to treat their ailments. “I could have quit and taken a job that paid well, but I kept asking myself, what’s the best thing I can do for my patients?” He thought about what his parents had suffered in Auschwitz. “Why should I crumble because the medical board takes away a piece of paper? I was willing to fight for something I feel is absolutely good—because of its efficacy and lack of side effects.”
Another marker of obesity and diabetes includes damage to liver cells. The liver is a major organ in the conversion between stored energy forms and useable energy forms in the body. Overburdening that system, such as with high fructose intake, can have disastrous effects. Inflammation within the liver indicates the onset of dysfunction, and possibly non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
I asked if he knew why CBD is so broadly effective. Could it be a gigantic, all-purpose placebo? He shook his head. His theory is that it’s an essential nutrient, like vitamins and amino acids, and when there’s a deficiency of CBD, people get sick. Because CBD brings the body into homeostasis, or balance, it can work in two directions: cutting appetite in people who over-eat, and increasing appetite in those who need to eat more.