Katonah doctor treats symptoms with medical marijuana
Dr. Lynn Parodneck, photographed at home in Katonah, is eager to bring her medical marijuana practice to the next level.
Photo by John Rizzo
You don’t have to wait long during late-night TV for some comedian to take shots at the idea of people using marijuana for medical purposes. Dr. Lynn Parodneck, whose private practice in Mt. Kisco is now offering marijuana consultations, has no problem joining in lightheartedly. “The jokes are funny,” she freely admits. But she hasn’t taken up this endeavor to be part of a national punch line. The closure of St Vincent’s in Manhattan gave her cause to leave behind her gynecological practice and shift to helping people who are suffering.
“Medical marijuana means you can make somebody feel better, and that’s what the Compassionate Care Act is about,” says Parodneck. “You have people who have not had positive solutions so this gives them a better quality of life.”
The CCA covers interventions for cancer, HIV, and neurological disorders such as ALS, MS, epilepsy, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s. There’s also a role to play with spinal-cord injuries, irritable bowl syndrome, severe nausea from cancer treatment, seizures, and persistent muscle spasms. Down the road, there will be further study on Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, PTSD, and arthritis.
All serious enough, marijuana certainly won’t help patients with cancer and HIV laugh off their affliction but may play a role in the loss of appetite that often accompanies these afflictions. “Marijuana gives you the munchies and gets patients to eat and relax,” says Dr. Parodneck.
A prescription of this nature will have THC as the main component. “That is the psychoactive component,” says the Katonah resident.
Of course, the prospect of physical addiction is not part of the equation. However, mental dependence has long been shown. But the fog that seemed to hover over those tuned out as teenagers is less of an issue for her patients. “These are people who have confirmed conditions, and medical marijuana provides relief,” she says.
Parodneck also points out that most of the people who will be seeking help are adults and already have a formed brain. This means they will not be as susceptible to negative use.
Additionally, marijuana can leave patients trying to manage pain far less likely to become dependent. “People who use marijuana, and combine with Oxycodone, means less of the opioid,” says Parodneck.
So when it’s time to ween off an opioid regimen, the addictive aspect is lessened. Otherwise, medical marijuana can intervene and go beyond just alleviating side effects. “The neurological conditions are inflammatory-based, and marijuana decreases inflammation,” reveals the New York Medical College grad.
The prescribed version is called CBD (Cannabidiol) and does not include the psychoactive component. So if the inflammation is brought down, then the symptoms of ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s are likely to follow in kind.
As such, the delivery method is either ingested, comes in pill form, or taken as an oil or vapor. The closest dispensaries are in White Plains and Yonkers, and it’s up to the physician to decide the CBD to THC ratio is. “The one in White Plains has five varieties—all THC, all CBD, and three in between,” she says.
Of course after being diagnosed, the first stop is to a doctor who is accredited to prescribe. “I need a complete medical document, and then I confirm with the doctor who signed,” she says.
Once the validity of the condition is established, the doctor and patient discuss options, doses, and advantages and disadvantages. She certainly concedes that there’s always the chance to abuse the system, but the level of scrutiny doctors face no longer ends with the New York State Department of Health. “The DEA is observing, as well,” she warns. “They are watching you.”
Even so, availability on the street makes self-medication an easy fix. She flatly rejects going that route since product might be cut with addictive and toxic chemicals such as ketamine. “At dispensaries,” she says, “it’s grown under strict regulations and guidelines, and the strength is known.”
This provides further incentive for her compassionate care. “I’ve been told stories of people who send out their teenage kids for grandpa so he can get his appetite back,” she says.
At this early stage, the doctor has treated a few patients and has received preliminary interest from a local oncologist. Determined, she has set her sights and is moving forward. “This is my little niche, and I’m giving it a go,” Parodneck concludes.