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Autism & CBD: An Interview with Dra. Myriam Sáez Cartagena, MD


The following interview with Dra. Myriam Sáez Cartagena, MD of Puerto Rico was conducted by Formula30A President Dara McLeod on March 24th, 2021. The content of the interview has been edited for length and clarity.


(Dara McLeod, Formula30A)

Hi Myriam! Thank you Dr. Saez, we so appreciate you joining me today. We were so moved when you sent the letter to our Medical Advisory Board talking about your specific patient, one that’s a newer patient to your practice, that came in. Tell us about this family, and a little bit about the story of the eleven-year-old autistic young boy that came to your practice.

(Dra. Myriam Sáez Cartagena, MD)

This family...when they first came in, the grandmother of the child came and she was very depressed. I started asking her what was happening and started [seeing] a lot of scratches and bruises all around her body. She starts crying and she tells me that they don’t know what to do because they have a grandson with autism and they are the ones who take care of him. They don't know what else to do, they've been changing [his] diet, they go to different doctors - specialists in autism. The boy is very aggressive. All the time, he is screaming, he is hitting himself, he is scratching everybody, He’s not happy with himself.


When she told me her story, I told her about Formula30A. I gave her a bottle and I told her, with faith, that she is going to see a difference in that child. Exactly when the bottle [ended], the grandfather came to buy [another] bottle. He has never been better. It has been amazing [for] his family because he was very aggressive and he was not happy with himself, and right now he is not hitting himself. He is taking naps, he wasn’t taking naps [before]. He is listening more, paying more attention.

(DM)

More focus?


(MSC)

Uh huh, more focus. And it’s so amazing that their neighbors [asked] them, “Where is the child?” because the screaming was very strong [before CBD]. The therapists that are coming to the house, they are very pleased because he is very focused, he can stay quiet, he can sit and watch TV and [on] other occasions, he can [do] anything. [Previously] he was, all the time, aggressive and unhappy.

(DM)

Yes, I hear a lot of- you know, I think for all of us today, in our society, we know somebody personally, or have a family member that is on the spectrum. Or we have neighbors, or we know somebody. I think everybody knows somebody, child or adult, that is on the spectrum. Autism shows up very differently for so many different families, and it just doesn't affect the child, it affects the entire family, right? So a lot of times what I hear from other mothers and parents that have autistic children, is that the reason that they hit themselves - or they are aggressive, or they yell - is their frustration, their inability to communicate, [and] the lack of focus, which leads to the frustration.


So when you told the grandmother and the grandfather, “I have this product called Formula30A,” did they ask you, “What is this? What are the ingredients? What is this for?” Because a lot of times people don’t understand what a Full Spectrum Hemp extract is, correct?


(MSC)

Yes, I had to explain a lot, because here in Puerto Rico there are a lot of [CBD products], that are not products of laboratories, and they don’t work. People here in Puerto Rico are tired of buying those types of products, and at those types of prices. They are expensive, and [consumers] don't see anything. It’s the only obstacle, but what I am doing is I am giving the patients samples. And the patients that I [gave samples to], they came back the other day.


(DM)

And they’re feeling the benefits. Now have you read some of the research - you know, [I see it] a lot of times because I have so many friends and moms that have an autistic child - and diet makes a big difference, right? You know, what the child puts in their mouth. Because there is that connection that we know - research is showing - that connection between the biome in the stomach and the relationship to behavior, right? Serotonin levels, you know.

So what we’re seeing with full spectrum hemp extract, and what we’re seeing clinically in doctors who are reporting back to us, is the reduction of inflammatory markers. Can that be also an explanation for why an eleven-year-old child - that has lived most of his life without naps and [had] behavioral issues - that all of a sudden when you start consuming a natural product like CBD, that it reduces that inflammation. And then also is working on the neurological systems, the receptors in the brain. I think that there are so many things that are happening, that we're learning, that it’s a very exciting time for us.

(MSC)

Yes, and there are studies on fibromyalgia, and depression resistant to treatment. Migraines [are] a deficiency of the endocannabinoid system. One of these doctors, [Dr. Ethan Russo], he’s an amazing doctor, and he said depression and fibromyalgia [are deficiencies] of the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system, the dopamine - they never get as they should be.


(DM)

Yes, they don't get the relief that they should get. Now when we first met...I've visited your beautiful country of Puerto Rico and I've been to Aibonito, which I loved staying at your little town at the top of the mountain - beautiful, beautiful scenery there. But we first met via telephone and text because you were enrolled in our Insomnia Study with Doctor Jenaro Velez.


That’s what’s so interesting about how you became a provider of Formula30 in your own practice because you were actually a patient first. Share a little bit about how that happened and the story there about your first introduction to Formula30A, really, as a patient.



(MSC)

Thanks to Formula30A and Dr. Jenaro Velez! Dr. Velez is a colleague of mine and I talked with him to consult him on other things and he told me about the study and I [was] interested. I was getting worried because I wasn't sleeping practically [at all] and to my surprise, after 10 days, I [had a continuous night’s sleep]. Maybe I [woke] one time in the night, but I can sleep and continue [sleeping] very easily. Right now, now that I am taking CBG [as well], I'm taking the CBG in the morning and I take the CBD in the afternoon and in the evening.


(DM)

And that seems to work for you?


(MSC)

It works amazing for me.


(DM)

Now tell me your experience - I’m sure other patients of yours are hearing from that grandmother and grandfather about that eleven-year-old that has such a dramatic [change]. Within two weeks, you said, his symptoms of hitting himself, hitting his grandmother, stopped and you said that, you know, that he's been able to take naps which he hasn't been able to. So I'm sure that that's completely helped that family, but are you hearing now from other patients of other children coming to you now because they're hearing that story? Or other patients coming to you because they're hearing what's happening?


(MSC)

Not yet, because that case, I started in February. Right now I ordered a case [of Formula30A] and I have to order another one because all the patients are very, very, very pleased with their supplements

(DM)

Oh that is really wonderful! Well our whole mission at Formula30A is, you know, is education. What we love about our Medical Advisory Board is that they are so committed to research. We’re committed to the study [of CBD]. As you know we just completed the study and the report came out - hopefully received our report - for insomnia, for chronic pain, and for anxiety.


With COVID, now I understand, when we were there in January, the businesses - the health department, restaurants, hotels, cab drivers, Uber - very strict. [You] always have to have a mask, always have to have the hand sanitizer when you enter any building. Any public building, any private building, there was the hand sanitizer. That would make any person, under any circumstance, anxious. Anxiety of COVID, right? And we did the Anxiety Study during COVID from June of 2020 and we finished the study, the last patient finished their last surveys, in October, the end of October.


We knew that we had reports back from our doctors - that were anecdotal, right? - that they were reporting back, that it was helping with anxiety. But doing the study during COVID was really interesting, especially in the anxiety arm of the study, that we had a reduction of 72% according to the patients - to the statistics. [Were you surprised] by that number? I know we were! We knew it worked, but we didn't know it worked that well. And that it worked that well especially during COVID.

(MSC)

It’s that well and that fast.


(DM)

And that fast! Yes, yes, yes! Because we saw the biggest drop in that first week. And then it continued to drop to where - using the GAD7 , the general anxiety disorder survey - according to that, when they're below that number three, they don't even have anxiety anymore. So it was fascinating to our entire Medical Board the extent [to which CBD calms people] who have maybe COVID-induced Anxiety or have already been diagnosed with general anxiety.


To have this as an option versus some of the pharmaceutical drugs that are an option for anxiety drugs, with the side effects that come along with that, as we know. We are so pleased by that number, but we're even more pleased at the safety profile that CBD has. You know research shows how safe it is, really, and why we can give it to children. The same product, the same dose. That twenty-five milligram capsule, we can give to an eleven-year-old with severe autism and give to a geriatric patient, right? That’s pretty amazing when we are talking about something like CBD and working that well in a clinical setting.

(MSC)

For me, every single person should be on Formula30A because it [regulates] homeostasis. I [am] forty-two years old and I have never been [like], you know, “I can sleep, I don't have anxiety.”

(DM)

Yeah, that’s what we were learning. Because when we started this journey, we were - and even with our physicians, because obviously we only work with doctors and licensed medical providers - we were always looking for what are the specific uses for CBD or phytocannabinoids? Because what research was already being done.


What we've learned over the past two years, is the endocannabinoid system, and what research is showing - because there's so much of emerging research coming out, and it's happening every single week, we’re learning more things - but the most recent research is really trying to explain “What is this endocannabinoid system? What does it do? Where is it? How does it work?” And understanding the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors are everywhere throughout the body, which explains why you can you could take something like Formula30A for sleep, but it also is a crossover to arthritic pain, or fibromyalgia, or any kind of inflammation system symptom as well as sleep - helping with sleep.


(MSC)

It is very smart.


(DM)

Yes and so what we're learning, and what you just said, is everybody should be on Formula30A and a CBD product, because the endocannabinoid system brings all the other systems into homeostasis. So now we are starting to understand why everybody should be on a full spectrum hemp extract as baseline. Just like we learned, back in the day, how important it is to take vitamin D, and how important that is just for basic barebones nutrition, that we need to have it.


So it’s kind of like the human race - and all mammals, like the whole food chain - have been unfortunately deprived of the cannabis plant, and with respect to Formula30A, full spectrum hemp cannabis. When you think about it, we've been deficient of it in our entire food chain for 80 years. It’s kind of like we're living back in the days when they had scurvy. Because they didn't have vitamin C, and something so simple as eating citrus fruits took care of scurvy, right?


So here we are, with the deficiency, and explaining to patients and explaining to medical professionals, “Listen! Our body, our human body - all mammals - need these phytocannabinoids to function optimally, right? Getting people to understand it's not just for one thing, it’s for the whole homeostasis of the body. What are your comments on that?


(MSC)

Well we talked about that [autistic] patient. As I [told] you, he was on [traditional] medication and now he’s not. It didn't work for him. If I have children [patients], I prefer to start them on full spectrum hemp extract. Because it is something pure that the body recognizes and he is not going to have another side effect, he's so young.

(DM)

Yes, so young, and such a life to live. And to think if we could just get the information out to more Medical Doctors, to more medical professionals, that work with children with these types of...And it's not just the children that are on the Spectrum, right?


I mean, think about all the children that are out of school, out of sports, during this COVID crisis. What if we were just simply putting them on some Formula30A to help them with their anxiety and depression? Because we are seeing high suicide rates now with young people. It's been hard times - financially, the fear of COVID, all of those things combined, you know? If there's something [where] we can help support people through their difficulties, it's a good thing.


That's what it's all about in the end, right? It’s helping people, and that's why I so enjoy, and love, working with my doctors. Because I live vicariously through all of you. You guys do such good work and sacrifice so much for your patients and for your community, the place that you live. And I just think that that’s so wonderful that you were open enough, that you were forward-thinking enough, to say, “You know what? I need to let my patients and my community know about this.” I think that is pretty wonderful.

(MSC)

Everybody should know. For me that has changed my life and the life of my patients. They are so happy! All the people, you look at their face[s] and it's so different. They're [no longer] extra worried, they take nothing [personally].

(DM)

I know that you've been one of the very few special doctors that is also using CBG [cannabigerol]. It's not out for everybody, there are only a few of our physicians that have CBG - but the word is, it makes us happy, doesn't it? We keep it very special because, you know, not everyone can have it.

(MSC)

And now you know it’s so important for me with [this] condition that I have.


(DM)

Yes, yes! So we are still learning, so this is important - [tracking] anything that you can document on the CBG on, you personally or with any of your patients, because that’s what we're looking at now with the few doctors that have our CBG. Is to say, “How are we going to use this? What’s the best use for CBG in a clinical setting?”


Because we know CBD is kind of like just for overall endocannabinoid system health. But it's interesting when we take CBG, because, well, we’re all kind of reacting. And it’s only my doctors that have this product, they’re not really putting it out to the patients, you know? Only Dr. Jelinek, who’s doing it with MRSA, with psoriasis, and with eczema. And you already saw some pictures that Dr. Jenaro [Velez] had sent with the eczema patient, right? And that's only within a week!


(MSC)

Yes, impressed! Very impressive, very impressive!


(DM)

We are too! So it’ll be interesting. We are trying to figure out all the different ways we can tell our doctors how to use it. What we can use it for.

(MSC)

I think a person with skin problems, you can use [CBG] for it, and CBD too...

(DM)

Yes, yes I think so too.


(MSC)

At night, taking the CBD, or they can take both in the morning. I’ve [recommended] this too.


(DM)

Yeah, I take both of them as well! We’re very excited to see what we're going to see with this CBG coming on. We'll probably get some more of that out to more of our physicians so they can have more access to it.

But Dr. Jelinek is specifically doing a trial right now for his MRSA patients because he's [an] infectious disease [specialist], and he says the protocol there is really, really, difficult. He’s had a patient that he told us that [spent] 8 years fighting MRSA and, you know, went to Mayo Clinic, went to other Ear Nose and Throat [specialists]. [They] had MRSA through the sinus cavity. And within two weeks - within two weeks - [of starting Formula30A CBG] got a negative MRSA culture, after eight years of fighting it. So it’s fascinating to me, I just think it is pretty wonderful!


(MSC)

It is extra wonderful!


(DM)

Extra wonderful! I know, I call it happy medicine, right? We’ve got to spread love, we’ve got to spread joy. And we’ve got to [support] these young people that struggle with behavioral issues, you know, just autistic children in general, you know?

The behavioral issues exist, but it's really hard on families, parents. It's really hard on marriages. A lot of parents of autistic children end up in divorce because it's very stressful on the entire family. So anything that we can do to minimize that stress in a family, but more importantly for that child, is to calm them down enough where they can communicate, right? And really let us know what their needs are.

So bless your heart! I'm so happy you were able to join me today and thank you so much! We appreciate all that you do for your patients and your community and all of us and Formula30A. We are so blessed to have you as one of our providers out there and we are very grateful for your friendship, too! Because you're just a lovely, wonderful person. Thank you so much.


(MSC)

I am thankful for all of you!

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