Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Wonders of Coca: Leaf of the Incas




Coca leaves are a favorite traditional food & supplement in Bolivia, Peru & other South American countries.  They contain the "forbidden" cocaine but also a number of nutrients & minerals that promote good health.  Coca has been used for centuries to treat altitude sickness in high-elevation parts of the world where it grows naturally (coincidence?) & is the sole source of all cocaine on the streets of America & other nations.  Coca leaves are rich in calcium & protein as well as potassium, fiber, vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3, iron, vitamin C & antioxidants.  Did we mention cocaine?

But coca leaves have a very different effect than pure cocaine.  When brewed into tea, chewed whole or eaten in candy or other preparations, coca produces a mild stimulation--milder than coffee or yerba mate--as well as a feeling of warmth & relaxation throughout the body. Coca helps open capillaries to improve blood flow, which is responsible for its effect on altitude sickness.  Other health benefits include weight loss; easing digestive symptoms like gas & bloating; regulating blood glucose & increased alertness/energy.

I've tried both the whole leaves & tea, and the leaves are definitely more potent.  You simply stuff some dried leaves in your mouth--being careful to remove the pointy stems--& add a tiny sprinkling of baking soda to bring out their natural alkaloids.  (Seriously, go easy on the baking soda or you will end up puking for hours.  A tiny pinch will do).  Traditionally, a substance called Llipta--a mixture of lime & ash--is used instead of baking soda but any alkaline substance will work.

Image result for llipta
Llipta

Within minutes, you begin to feel a numbing sensation in your mouth & a slight sharpening of your vision & hearing.  As you chew, you feel a combination of stimulation & relaxation that's both pleasant & subtle.  Coca leaves go great with cannabis or hemp/CBD--the synergy between their energizing effects of coca and the relaxation of cannabis is beautiful.  When brewed into a tea, the effects are more subtle but still noticeable.  Comparable to white or green tea.

I used to chew the leaves before work at 6:00 a.m. & spit them out when I arrived.  Sometimes I'd keep chewing & no one was the wiser.  Brands I've tried include Herbi tea, Delisse tea bags & plain leaves.  I go for the highest quantity for the money.  I've also tried a liquid coca extract product that I wasn't too impressed with for the price, but perhaps I was using it wrong. I haven't had a chance to try the coca flour or other powdered forms.  Brushing your teeth or using an alcohol-based mouthwash before chewing can help with absorption for some people.

Prior to 1903, Coca-Cola used whole coca leaves in their soda.  Each 7-ounce glass contained about 9 mg of cocaine plus a significant amount of caffeine from the kola nut (Get it?  Coca-Kola).  It was marketed as an "Ideal Brain Tonic" that eased headaches & relieves mental/physical exhaustion".  They still use coca leaves for flavoring but strip them of the cocaine & healthy vitamins/minerals.  But there are some energy drinks & sodas in South America that are using the whole coca leaf to bring back the magic of original Coke.  A few of these include Coca Colla, Coca Sek, Inka Cola & Coca Brynco

Original Coca-Cola ad.  Sounds delish!

There are a variety of South American-based vendors of coca tea & other coca products online, Mysterious Bolivian being the most well-known (we wrote about them in one of our first blog posts).  There's also:  Coca Natural, Peru Exporta, Andean Leaves & many others.  Sometimes these products can be found on sites like Amazon as well.  Make sure to check the laws in your state/country & do your research before spending money on a new vendor. 

Proud Native chowing down on some leaves.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kratom Krisis

Alright folks.  If you follow my Twitter posts at all, you're probably sick to death of hearing about the impending attempt to ban/schedule kratom.  I apologize for the myopic tunnel vision, but once again the FDA/DEA are clamping down on the right of consenting adults to ingest safe, legal plants in the privacy of their own homes.  And we can't have that.

Around September of last year, the DEA backed off their plan to emergency schedule kratom after being flooded with public comments on how the plant has saved & transformed lives.  This was an unprecedented event in DEA history--never before had they changed course on a proposed ban & taken feedback from actual users of a substance.  Since then, the only thing that has changed is that kratom has become even more popular & more people have discovered its benefits.  But you wouldn't know that from listening to mainstream media.

Suddenly there were two reports of deaths caused by kratom--one involving a police officer who died of pulmonary edema (bleeding of the lungs, which could've only been caused by kratom if he inhaled a lot of it)  Within weeks, this number had climbed to 36 deaths directly caused by kratom!  Very little information was given about the alleged victims--their names & autopsy reports remain difficult to track down.  But the common thread is that all involved drugs other than kratom and/or serious underlying health conditions.  Any death in which kratom is present in the bloodstream is being attributed to kratom alone, something the American Kratom Association blames on a "shadow campaign" between coroners, the media & other entities who wish to demonize the plant.  (Coroners are elected officials; not unbiased medical professionals).

Sure enough, a week or so later we get an announcement by FDA sleeze Scott Gottlieb that the FDA is stopping imports of kratom & plans to work with the DEA to get the plant scheduled in the near future.  You may have heard about Gottlieb's ties to GlaxoSmithKline as well as Cephalon: the company that manufactures fentanyl lollipops & played a large role in flooding the legal Rx market with the drug during the height of the "Prescription Drug Epidemic".  Fentanyl is active in microgram amounts, making it more deadly than oxycodone, morphine, Dilaudid or even heroin.

So what could be Gottlieb's motivation for banning a benign plant like kratom?  Could it be the same reason that cannabis & other plant-based substances have been placed in Schedule I & other restricted classes over the years?  Not because it's deadly & has no medical benefit, but because you can't patent a plant.  What you CAN do, however, is tinker with the alkaloids found in kratom, switch them around a bit & patent whatever Frankenstein drug you end up with.  Like they did with Marinol, a synthetic form of THC that causes hideous side effects & has even killed 4 people.  Or how they isolated morphine & codeine from the opium poppy, banning the poppy/opium itself when it's far harder to overdose on whole opium than from one of its pure isolates.  Or how they placed the iboga root in Schedule I when it's been proven to alleviate serious drug addiction after only 1 or 2 uses.

The list could go on & on.  Bottom line:  If you're going to treat pain, addiction or any other ailment, you're going to do it with one of their synthetic, patented medicines.  Case closed.  Not the cheaper, superior & safer plant from which it was derived.  Kratom is a threat to their bottom line.  It directly competes with a number of their drugs currently on the market, including the following:

- Pain medications (opioid-based drugs like hydrocodone; NSAIDs like Celebrex)
- Addiction drugs (methadone, Suboxone, Antabuse, Bunavail, etc)
- Antidepressants (Prozac, Cymbalta, Trintellix, Latuda)
- Anxiety medications (benzodiazepines like Xanax & Ativan; "others" like BuSpar & Vistaril)
- Sleep aids (Ambien, Lunesta, Seroquel, Trazodone, tricyclic antidepressants, etc)

If that wasn't enough, kratom also competes with alcohol, tobacco & (legal) cannabis for the recreational market, which probably doesn't make those guys too happy.

Folks, I'm extremely angry that my government would take away things that are a basic fundamental human right.  Banning plants, which are a natural resource available to all, is the height of sociopathic narcissism.  Our country has been taken over by Mr. Burns-esque corporate overlords who care only about profits.  I use kratom daily to treat pain caused by endometriosis, chronic migraine & several mental health disorders including depression & OCD.  Not that kratom's a cure-all.  I still take prescription meds for these conditions, go to counseling & try to live healthy on a day-to-day basis.  It's not easy but I'm proud of the progress I've made with the help of kratom.  I work a steady job, pay my own bills, pay taxes & contribute to society instead of being a drain on it. 

But if you take kratom away from me, I will be back on opiates & on welfare/disability again.  You can't work a job that drug tests when you use opiates that aren't prescribed to you.  But you also can't function with chronic pain so severe it's a struggle every day just to avoid shooting yourself.  If you take away my kratom, you will leave me with these two gruesome options.  You will be taking the stability that I've worked so hard to achieve.  And I know there are thousands, if not millions, of other people in the same boat.  It appears that you also want to place CBD back in Schedule I for some godforsaken reason, which just proves how ridiculous this whole crusade is.

It's time for people to wake up & stand up for their rights.  We cannot let them turn this great nation into a giant prison yard full of well-intentioned mentally ill, drug addicts & chronic pain sufferers just trying to make it through the day.  If you'd like to get involved in the fight for this fundamental personal liberty, you can do so in a few ways:

- Donate to the American Kratom Association or Botanical Education Alliance.  These are two well-organized lobbying groups that have done much to keep kratom legal for this long.  Every dollar helps.

- Call your senators & congressmen & and tell them why you are AGAINST a ban on kratom.  (If you don't use kratom, just inform them of the current situation & why you oppose a ban).  Don't be nervous--just write out a short list of things you want to say & give them a call.  It's what they're there for.  😁

- Sign the many online petitions to keep kratom legal.

- Join the AKA's social media campaign using the hashtags #iamkratom & #keepkratomlegal.

- Write respectful, intelligent refutations to online articles that contain falsehoods about kratom, such as those claiming that kratom has caused 36 deaths.  Remember to avoid using curse words or slang & stick to the facts.  

We need all hands on deck for this, as it is looking like a concerted effort to ban kratom for good.  Even if you don't use it yourself, it's the principal of personal liberty that's at stake.  Many good people will revert to drug abuse, disability, suicide & other horrific avenues if kratom doesn't remain legal & accessible to all.  

Thanks for reading this far.  

/steps off soapbox (for tonight)...

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Product Review: Cherry Wine Hemp

Grown in:  Nevada
CBD content:  14-15%
Cost: $20 per gram




Okay, in my last post I scratched the surface discussing industrial hemp, which is pretty easy to find these days on the legal online market.  It's usually grown in Lithuania or other far-flung locales and averages about 2-3% CBD overall, which is not that impressive.  What we've got here is a whole other beast.  This is medicinal-grade hemp bud grown for its high CBD content--not for industrial uses (fiber, seed oil, etc) like the Lithuanian stuff.

It doesn't take long to figure out why this strain is called "Cherry Wine."  The pungent aroma of cherries & skunk hits your face & fills up a room rapidly upon opening the bag or pouring some onto a tray.  It smells every bit as potent as top-shelf marijuana, but remember it's LEGAL!  The THC content is under 0.02% & actually shows as "undetectable" on the lab analysis, so no worries on that front.

When smoked, Cherry Wine hits the back of your throat & chest just like any other high-grade cannabis strain.  You feel your bronchioles expand, you cough & any pain you were feeling just melts away.  The effects are mild but noticeable.  It's a great source of full-spectrum CBD with an amazing terpene profile.  It's at least as effective as the CBD capsules & vape juices I've tried and definitely more enjoyable due to the beautiful smell & taste.  The buds are packed tightly & manicured to perfection.  There are maybe 1 or 2 seeds in every gram, if any.  Each gram comes in a resealable baggie with a printout of the CBD/THC content.

This is the real deal, folks.  Dispensary grade hemp for those of us who don't have dispensaries in our state.  Hence why the price is a little high.  I paid $20 for a gram but the vendor was kind enough to throw in some extra ground bud material + leaf & shake for free.  I actually prefer the finely ground buds sold in teabags, as you can just pack it right into your pipe or vape without breaking it up.  All of their stuff is A1 quality & I hope to see more like it on the market in the coming years.

Since the vendor doesn't wish to have their contact info posted here publicly, you can inquire about this product at welpharecheeze@gmail.com or message me privately on Twitter @BannedintheUSSA

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