Home Industry From Spine Surgeon to Cannabis Physician – Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio Shares CBD Insights

From Spine Surgeon to Cannabis Physician – Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio Shares CBD Insights

by Gregory Frye

Dr. Frank D'Ambrosio

At first, Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio loved spine surgery. He relished the craftsmanship and finality of it all. Plus, he wanted to help people feel better. 

But over his 30 years as a surgeon, Dr. Frank realized that spine surgery wasn’t completely relieving his patients from pain. “When people come in with back pain, get surgery for that back pain, and then leave with back pain – it becomes a very unsatisfying career,” he notes. “People would get angry, believing that when you operate on them, you’re going to take away their back pain, but they are still left with back pain – maybe to a lesser degree, but still in pain.”

When you realize you can’t or shouldn’t operate on people anymore, Dr. Frank continues, it leaves you with an office full of people who are addicted to opioids, patients coming in just to renew their prescriptions.

At least that was more than five years ago. “It was completely untenable, and we had to do something different,” he says.

“So I transferred all my patients off of opioids, getting them recommendation letters for cannabis. They started coming back, they were feeling better, and their pain was taken care of without all the negative side effects of opioids.” 

For Dr. Frank and his patients, the results had so many benefits. “Cannabis wasn’t causing them to overdose, they weren’t dying, and because of the way the endocannabinoid system works, patients weren’t just receiving relief from their pain, their bodies were also healing.”

To his mind, the cannabis plant was and is a beautiful thing for medicine, and it’s a plant with so much untapped potential.

CBD and THC – Clearing Misconceptions

When Dr. Frank started working with cannabis, he immediately began to verse himself on the available literature and research. He began to see how all the compounds of the plant had potential, that no one compound should be singled out. 

“You can’t just talk about THC with regards to cannabis; you have to talk about CBD, CBN, THCA, etc.; you need to talk about the terpenes and flavonoids,” he says. “I dove into the topic and felt that there was enough here to warrant further exploration, and it’s safe enough to warrant recommending it to patients in need.”

With CBD specifically, as it rises in popularity, Dr. Frank is a good source of information based on his own experiences as a clinician.

“The research I’ve done shows that CBD works peripherally with our CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. CBD works by fixing peripheral cells, and so you’re not really going to see anything visually.” 

At the clinical level, Dr. Frank has seen CBD add value for issues like neuropathy and diabetes, however – from his experience – ailments such as seizures or Parkinson’s tremors require THC as well for best results.

“CBD is more of a long-term play. Because THC works more centrally, you can visually see the changes. With CBD you’re projecting a long-term, lifetime of healing. So you’re not going to see anything dramatic, but you’re going to see something incremental that happens every day.”

Dr. Frank describes some of his CBD-rich clinical experience in detail, instances where he’s witnessed CBD help people with asthma, heart rate, or blood pressure – the compound doing its work on those peripheral cells.

“It’s a balance. CBD and THC both stimulate different receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CBD for more peripheral issues, and in my opinion THC for more central issues, the brain and nervous system.”

“The CBD Industry Is Still In Its Infancy”

As the emerging CBD industry goes through its growing pains, Dr. Frank is keeping a close eye on the developments. From his perspective, the industry is still at the very beginning stages. 

“It’s still in its infancy, even though it feels like we’ve progressed very far in the CBD world, we haven’t. We’re just beginning to really understand how it works,” he says, emphasizing the current challenges with federal regulation and lack of public education.

“The public hasn’t been educated enough with regards to how CBD differs from THC, and why you cannot lump CBD into the restrictive nature of THC,” Dr. Frank notes.

“Cannabis isn’t all THC, and it’s not all CBD either, and I just don’t think we’ve gotten to the point yet where we’ve separated CBD out enough to be able to educate people enough about CBD so that it can be used more effectively by the patients and for countries to be less restrictive from a government regulatory standpoint.”

And in order to effectively regulate, he continues, you have to understand all of the nuances of the plant, and in this case CBD, completely.

This multifaceted need for CBD training and education is exactly why Dr. Frank and other CBD experts joined Green Flower to share their expertise on the new CBD Certificate Program, designed to empower professionals with a credible foundation of CBD knowledge and insights.

Advice for People in the CBD Industry

“CBD is an uncut gem. It is out there, it can be polished, it can be turned into this beautiful diamond – if given the right circumstances,” Dr. Frank notes. “If you’re a clinician, don’t think of it as a cure-all but as another arrow in your quiver.”

The most important thing, he cautions, is that CBD products are held to the highest quality and assurance standards, with accurate labeling and properly screened for pesticides by a certified lab.

“You’re going to get people in the CBD industry for the wrong reasons, trying to make money and cutting corners. And we can’t allow that,” he states. “Because it’s taken us so long to get the cannabis plant to where we are right now, and even though we feel like we’re making a lot of progress, it’s still in a tenuous state. Putting profit over quality and patient safety is a recipe for disaster.”

Aside from the challenges with product quality and safety, Dr. Frank sees no issue with CBD-rich medicines even though, surprisingly, he still observes a lot of stigma and reluctance. “CBD cannot be addictive. It can be used to treat specific illnesses, and it can be part of a wellness regimen that you begin early in life, where you can protect, theoretically, your body from potential future illnesses.”

Someday 100 years from now, people will look back on this, Dr. Frank says, and ask: why did it take so long for us to figure this out? “And what’ll happen in those 100 years is that sometimes we’ll take two steps forward and one step back, and sometimes we will hit brick walls and you gotta run around them, and other times we’ll break down some walls – but it’s going to happen.”

Next Steps: The Online CBD Certificate Program

If you plan to work with CBD in any capacity, you want to avoid making costly or potentially harmful mistakes. Check out the Green Flower CBD Certificate Program where you can learn directly from seasoned experts about all the key nuances to help you succeed.

Get all the details on the program page today. 


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