Izzy Zalcberg: Seeing Medical Cannabis as the Future of Healthcare
MMJ Patient: Izzy Zalcberg, Chicago, IL
He’s a cancer survivor who underwent traditional treatment, but he’s here to tell us that it wasn’t an easy feat and came with its share of consequences. Years following his treatment, he is still plagued by the side effects that came with taking on the route of chemotherapy, but he sees a different future with the new research surfacing on the cannabis plant. Izzy Zalcberg is a survivor, an advocate, and is now dedicating his effort to advancing the realm of treatment that our healthcare systems are administering to include medical hemp and cannabis.
What medical condition have you been struggling with?
I’m a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma somewhere around September 2009 and I was treated for that diagnosis all the way through 2011. I underwent chemotherapy as well as a stem cell transplant.
How long have you been experiencing your medical condition?
When I started undergoing cancer treatment, it was the side effects that were the medical conditions I was experiencing. More specifically I was suffering from a condition called neuropathy, which is numbness and pain, as a direct result of the chemotherapy. When you undergo chemo, you are sending poisons into your body that literally sensitize your nerve endings which causes this painful numb sensation.
When I started undergoing cancer treatment, it was the side effects that were the medical conditions I was experiencing.
What do you believe caused this medical condition?
What medications were prescribed to you by your doctor and what were the resulting side effects?
There are two prescriptions that are used to treat neuropathy currently and they both seek to relieve pain and stimulate the nerve endings. Unfortunately, they are both laden with serious side effects, which are even worse than suffering from the condition itself. The side effects were very harmful on my psychological state; I experienced confusion, lack of clarity, irritability, and total loss of function, meaning that I became more pathetic than I was with the condition. The two pharmaceuticals, one newer than the other, made me feel like I had no chance of living a normal day-to-day life. I was living in a fog. Please understand, I feel blessed that I am alive, and I am very thankful for traditional medical options, but they just don’t work best for me.
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
Because my nerve endings and immune system were essentially comprised when undergoing chemotherapy, I knew that I needed to revive my extremities with high doses of Vitamin B and other anti-inflammatory supplements. I also tried massages, which I’m still currently doing, and I tried acupuncture, along with other Eastern Medicine practices all since the year of 2011. My wife is a medical doctor that practices acupuncture and Eastern Medicine outside of the United States, so she gave me a lot of guidance on this alternative route.
Then, last year I was given a .5% hemp compound salve to apply to my feet and my hands and while I did experience some benefits, I do believe that the right formula needs to be made to offer maximum effects. I’m currently Chair for a biotech company called Panther Biotechnology, Inc. (OTC:PBYA) and am pushing for them to research and develop treatments for cancer side effects that implement medical cannabis and hemp compounds.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
Well, when I don’t have any of the serious heavy duty side effects, I feel 100X better! I have the mental clarity and I can function normally. While I still endure quite a bit of pain when my neuropathy flares up, I opt for over-the-counter pain medication instead of heavy pain killers. I will NOT do narcotics because they make my head very fuzzy, so I prefer to have a little bit of pain over having to lose my ability to function in a normal setting.
I have the mental clarity and I can function normally.
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine compared to your prescribed medications?
While what I’ve experienced in terms of pain relief from alternative medicine isn’t what I consider to be the perfect solution, it has given me hope that this ‘miracle plant’ that has been given to us by a higher power will become the answer. When more research is done and more people with PhDs get involved in discovering the benefits of cannabis, I believe we will come up a formula that will not only benefit myself, but will also benefit everyone else suffering from various medical conditions. I believe in better treatment in healthcare and I believe that cannabis is right around the corner and will be part of that advancement.
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Yes, absolutely! Since I have switched to alternative medicine, I haven’t been experiencing the severe side effects that I was enduring from medications prescribed by my doctors. I may not be getting the 100% pain relief result that traditional medicine may offer, but at least I know that I am absorbing a treatment that is natural and allows for healing instead of further harm. Hemp is natural, medical marijuana is natural, and I know that one day, with research, that we will develop a natural formula that will 100% cure my neuropathy!