Wednesday, February 28, 2018

OTC Drugs Around the World

Unbeknownst to most Americans, many countries sell medications like codeine & Ambien over-the-counter with no prescription.  Yes.  This happens & the world does not fall off its axis.  These people manage their own consumption of these meds without society falling apart.  Some pharmacies will even sell them to U.S. customers if you find the "right" ones (which I won't do for you.  Sorry).  
But if you wish to go down that road, you'll first need to arm yourself with the knowledge of some brand names of these meds so you'll know what to search for.  Here are some examples FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY:

Co-Codamol - codeine + APAP

Paramol - dihydrocodeine + APAP

Solpadeine Plus - codeine + APAP + caffeine + hemihydrate

Doreta - tramadol + APAP

Panadeine - codeine + APAP

Dormicum - midazolam

Syndol - codeine + caffeine + APAP + doxylamine

Paratramol - tramadol + APAP

Nurofen Plus - codeine + ibuprofen

Nitrest - zolpidem tartrate

Roboxacet - methocarbamol + APAP

Veganin - codeine, caffeine, APAP

Rivotril - clonazepam

Cheratussin AC - codeine + guaifenesin (available behind the counter in some U.S. states)

*APAP = Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol or paracetamol

I don't suggest getting started abusing these meds due to the physical addiction factor.  I've been down that road & it's not fun.  But if your doctor is being tight-fisted with the painkillers & you are suffering--as more and more people are during this war on pain meds--sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  At this point it is safer to procure medications from overseas than buying from American dealers who may have fentanyl-laced lookalikes & not even know it.  So don't use pills--but if you MUST--buy them from a reputable source.  It could save your life. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Watch Your Words: A Guide To Deconstructing Drug War Propaganda

Words carry a lot of power.  One of the easiest ways to fight misinformation propagated by drug war zealots is by simply refusing to repeat their inaccurate & offensive terminology.  The media & government have cooked up stigmatizing, inaccurate language over time to make drugs & their users look bad while painting their war on these things in a positive light.  Here are a few corrections to their Newspeak:

"The War On Drugs".  A fancy term for drug prohibition.  Alcohol prohibition was a massive failure, so they'd rather we not associate the current drug prohibition with that historical fuckup.  So they call it the "War on Drugs".  But it'd more accurately be called the "War on SOME Drugs" since caffeine, alcohol, tobacco & many prescription meds are not included or are treated with kid gloves compared to safer substances that have never killed anyone, like cannabis.  Clever.

Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it
"Marijuana".  (Cannabis sativa, indica).  "Marijuana = Mary Jane" in Spanish.  The name "marijuana" was dreamt up by racists attempting to link a harmless weed with Mexican immigrants who they wished to demonize & deport.  This is blatant derogatory racist trash talk that needs to stop immediately. Call it cannabis, weed, pot or anything you wish.  Just not marijuana. 

"Just Say No".  This harmless-sounding 1980s slogan was made famous by Nancy Reagan, who was accused by her own daughter of being addicted to barbiturate sleeping tablets.  Whether or not that's true, the "abstinence-only" method of education has been proven time & again to be a failure, whether in regards to sex ed or drug education.  There will always be a percentage of people who--for whatever reason--say YES, which means we can't stop our education at no.  Harm reduction is a must in our schools & our communities.  The idea that just saying no will make drugs go away is a dangerous fantasy.  We prefer "Just Say Know".

Just Say Maybe

"Junkie".  Another foul term used to make heroin users look like losers, though this one has been more broadly applied to other types of drug addicts as well.  (Some heroin users refer to themselves as junkies & have no problem with the word, but it's not a clinically or politically correct one so I'm including it here).

"Crack Babies/Drug Babies".  I'll say this upfront:  Using drugs while pregnant is an abhorrent & dangerous thing to do.  Your baby deserves the best possible chance at a healthy life if you decide to see the pregnancy through.  But not all drugs are created equal when it comes to pregnancy risk.  Alcohol is far & away the most dangerous substance to ingest while pregnant.  There is NO safe amount of alcohol while pregnant.  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a spectrum disorder that affects every aspect of a child's mental & physical development for life.  Cigarettes & stimulants like cocaine & meth put the baby at risk for low birth weight and heart problems, while opioid use almost guarantees the baby will endure withdrawals shortly after birth.  Benzodiazepines are a Category X drug, meaning they're likely unsafe during pregnancy & might cause birth defects like cleft palate.
     As you can see, women of childbearing age should do their research carefully before becoming pregnant if they use substances, or abstain from using substances if they are having unprotected sex.  But the crack baby scare of the 1980s was largely a myth.  The babies shown in those news pieces were often withdrawing from opioids, not crack.  Most of them grew up with relatively few problems despite bleak forecasts about their futures.  Some of the most harmful substances to use during pregnancy, such as alcohol & benzodiazepines, get the least news coverage while the less harmful ones make headlines.  One can only speculate as to WHY this would be the case.  The word racism comes to mind :\

The epidemic that wasn't

"Narcotics".  Yes, "narcotics" are a real thing but the word technically refers only to the opioid class of medication, NOT any illicit mind-altering substance that law enforcement feels like slapping it on.  Meth, cannabis, ketamine, MDMA, alcohol & cocaine are not "narcotics".  Stahp.

"This Is Your Brain on Drugs" {Sizzling Egg}.  The idea that drugs cause brain damage is a persisting one that's been used to scare the public to great effect for years. While drugs alter your brain function while you're on them, very few cause lasting physical changes to the brain that result in functional damage.  There are exceptions, of course.  Heavy, prolonged meth abuse is known to be neurotoxic, as is heavy alcohol abuse over time.  MDMA and its sister drug MDA damage serotonin receptors, but it's not known how that damage manifests in functional, real-world terms (memory, mood, problem-solving, etc).
     Over-ingestion of ANY substance--be it sugar, air pollution or crack cocaine--can cause brain damage, but not in the dramatic sizzly egg fashion shown on those commercials.  The brain is an incredibly pliable, elastic organ that can withstand a lot of abuse.  Physical head trauma is a far greater threat than a little moderate drug use.  Key word: moderate.  You should be more concerned about those hits to the dome your kid's taking in football or soccer than a few tokes under the bleachers.

This is your brain on drug war propaganda

"Discontinuation Syndrome".  This is the term applied to anti-depressants & other psych meds that aren't technically addictive but make you go batshit crazy when you stop taking them.  Believe me, it's as severe as any other type of drug withdrawal out there.  They just gave it a pretty name so as not to scare patients/customers.  This is just one example of pharma's dishonesty--there are many others.  I take Prozac & have for years.  It's a great medication for me, but that doesn't change the fact that it causes withdrawals when you stop taking it.  Call a spade a spade.

"Faces of Meth" Campaign.  Okay, so this was a really jarring & effective campaign showcasing the effects of meth (allegedly) on your appearance.  What they neglected to include was that the majority of meth users are poly-substance abusers who stay up for days on end, neglect their hygiene, pick at their faces & eat sugary junkfood that accelerates tooth decay.  (Having no teeth ages you about 30 years; ask anyone with dentures).
      But these are not unavoidable consequences of meth itself.  They are bad choices made by these individuals.  We actually don't know the stories behind these peoples' decline--they could've survived domestic violence, car accidents, cancer or anything else in addition to being caught with meth.  Hell, poverty itself will do a number on your looks.  Ask anyone who can't afford dental care or other basic medical services.  The point is, don't assume that meth and meth alone is the cause of a person's accelerated aging or degrading looks.  It may play a role, but don't jump to conclusions until you have all the facts.  

Faces of Fearmongering

"The Opioid Crisis".  I've addressed this in another post.  Many of the overdose deaths attributed to a vaguely defined opioid crisis are actually the result of drug prohibition, which has allowed deadly fentanyl analogues to thrive & contaminate the black market.  If drugs were legal & regulated, there would BE no black market.  Addicts could take measured doses of pure substances in a safe setting without the risk of violence or adulterated drugs they currently face.  And our drug education could be more honest & include harm reduction information warning about the dangers of mixing depressants with opioids, which is the second leading cause of overdose.  No more violent gangs or cartels getting rich off our suffering; no more wasted police resources arresting non-violent drug addicts.  Win-win situation for everyone.  The Opioid Crisis is actually a Big Pharma-Manufactured Crisis Aggravated by Prohibition.  But that's not quite as catchy, is it?

...this list is ongoing, as new propaganda terms are constantly being churned out by the anti-drug warriors who are hard at work taking your personal freedoms away.  Feel free to add your own.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Can You Tell Which of These Buds is Federally Legal?

Bud #1: 
Bud #2: 
Bud #3: 
Bud #4: 
 ((Click to enlarge))

Go ahead.  Look them over.  Can you spot the one that's legally designated "hemp" & contains only 0.03% THC?  If you guessed Bud #2, you're wrong.  That's low-quality marijuana.  The correct answer is Bud #1, which is a hemp strain called Cherry Wine.

The point of this post is to highlight the pitfalls of the fledgling hemp industry for customers & vendors alike.  While hemp is technically legal everywhere under the Farm Bill of 2014 (and the more recent 2018 Farm Bill), these buds look and smell indistinguishable from top-shelf marijuana, which means you are likely to get arrested if caught with them in an illegal state.  You might be able to get your case overturned with the help of a lawyer, but not everyone has the money or wants to deal with the stress of having their car/house searched or being taken away in handcuffs.  So be discreet when using these products. 

Law enforcement needs to educate themselves on the changing face of the hemp/CBD business, but we all know that happens at a snail's pace.  So buy these products at your own risk.  Insist that your vendor include a lab analysis sheet that shows the THC content is in accordance with the law & packages your buds securely so as not to attract unwanted attention. If you're a vendor of these products, cover your own ass by using transparent labeling that tells EXACTLY what the product is and isn't.  Don't use sophomoric gimmicky names that evoke drug use on your products, as that's sure to bring trouble your way.

Low-THC hemp buds are rich in CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that kills pain & has mild relaxing and anti-psychotic effects.  They contain few or no seeds & smell strongly due to their potent terpene profiles.  They're particularly useful for people looking to benefit from the medical aspects of cannabis without the mind-bending effects of THC.  Despite their low THC content, you could still fail a drug test after using these buds because they are cannabis & still contain trace amounts.

Feel free to share your experiences with these domestic hemp strains in the comments.  I've tried several & am a huge fan. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

What's the Deal With: Agmatine Sulfate?

Agmatine is a supplement that's marketed largely as a bodybuilding aid for some reason.  Perhaps it boosts strength or weightlifting ability--I'm not sure.  I started taking it after hearing that it enhances the effects of kratom by reducing tolerance.  After my first 4-5 doses I was not impressed.  If anything, the only effect I noticed was increased itching after taking 750mg.  I've only tried the Hard Rhino (lol) brand so far but there are others that are equally good according to reviews.

lol wut

But with continued once-a-week use, I was able to see a huge increase in my energy levels the day after taking agmatine.  It also reduced the amounts of my daily stimulant & kratom that I needed to take by about half.  Considering how long I've been taking these substances daily, that's a big deal.  I suffer from lethargic depression, inattentive ADD & chronic fatigue, so this increased energy is also pretty huge.  I found myself enjoying things like shopping while agmatine was in my system when normally I'd rather slit my wrists than go into a store.  This effect is delayed by a day so I take it the day BEFORE going somewhere for it to take effect.  But it's one of the most effective supplements I've ever come across.

So why not use it every day, you ask?  Several reasons.  First, it's another thing that costs money & I'm poor.  Secondly, we don't really know the long-term safety or what possible interactions it might have with the other barrage of odd substances I take.  And finally, I'd hate to ruin a good thing by over-using it.  I already have done that with kratom & stimulants by taking them day in and day out--I mean they still do good things for me but not as good as the first time, obviously.  I'd prefer to save agmatine as a once-in-a-while boost for bad days or as a treat for when I'm feeling bored.

My brand
There are really no side effects to speak of for me.  The taste is bitter but not terrible if you wash it down quickly.  Doesn't upset my GERD or IBS at all.  The typical recommended dose by most users is 500-750mg three times dailyI take 750mg once weekly.  Best to start on the low end when trying new supplements. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Zadaka Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

Zadaka is a new CBD/hemp oil company based on the West Coast.  They were kind enough to send me a sample of their 1000mg Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil to try out, which was really cool.  Their packaging & website seem basic & upfront--no gimmicks.  Their oil is organic, safe for people & pets and manufactured in a GMP-certified facility.  Right up my alley.

The bottle came wrapped in purple gift wrap with two info cards telling more about the product.  The bottle itself contains more info about what's inside than most hemp/CBD products, which is always appreciated.  According to the lab results listed on their website, one bottle of Zadaka contains 100% CBD and no THC.  There are trace amounts of various other cannabinoids like CBN (0.5%), CBG (0.4%) and CBD-A (0.02%).

Upon opening the bottle, I see that the dropper has little measuring marks that read 0.5mL & 1.0mL for easy measuring which is helpful.  (I'm not good with guesstimating my doses).  I fill it up to the 0.5mL mark & put it under my tongue for about a minute before swallowing.  The taste is definitely hemp-y but not in an earthy, dirt-tasting way...more of a fruity/flowery high-note flavor.  You can definitely taste the terpenes that are present, some of which I've never heard of before.  There are the more well-known ones like Pinene & Limonene but also novel ones such as Arisalene & a-Bisabolene, the latter of which is apparently found in oregano & lemon according to my research.

Info cards
After about 10 minutes the noise in my head starts to go quiet.  (Mind you, I don't hear voices or anything lol.  There's just a peace that I get from good CBD that's hard to describe any other way).  I don't feel sedated or drowsy, so I take another 0.5mL under the tongue.  The taste really isn't bad compared to other products I've tried.  You can definitely taste the olive oil carrier.  1 drop = 1.67mg CBD according to the label.  Things definitely start to mellow out with the second dose.

While I prefer to vape my CBD, this is my favorite sublingual/oral hemp oil product I've tried so far.  It seems more effective than the Bluebird Botanicals liquid solution I tried, and it definitely tastes better.  I also really dig the packaging & all the details included on the label (dosing, measurements, cannabinoid & terpene profile, etc).  In this age of synthetic "Spice" cannabinoids being sold as CBD, there's something to be said for companies that provide transparency & play by the rules.  Zadaka definitely fits that mold.  The company has yet to launch, but you can enter your email at for a discount code when the site opens.

0% THC, Made In USA, Safe for People & Pets, Organic, Lab Tested, Supercritical CO2 Extract

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Benzodiazepines: Toxic Truths

This may not be what people want to hear, but it's true:  benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc) are a toxic class of medications.  The way they're currently prescribed by many doctors--as a long-term solution for anxiety, insomnia or other non-life threatening ailments--is dangerous.  Benzos can cause mania & depression in people who are neither bipolar nor depressed & can worsen these disorders to the point of suicide in those who are.  They affect cognitive function in a manner similar to alcohol, which is to say, not positively.  And the withdrawals can kill you.  Even heroin or crack can't make that claim.  Withdrawals can stretch on & on for months or even years and include hideous symptoms like panic attacks, psychosis, seizures, depression & severe cognitive impairment.  (I know because I experienced 2.5 years of my own withdrawal hell after a short course of benzo abuse).  Nearly every system of the body is affected by benzos, including the endocrine system, bowels & immune system.

Benzos cause brain damage similar to alcohol
As usual, doctors in the U.S. seem to be lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to recognizing the problems with these drugs.  Dr. Heather Ashton has dedicated her career to helping benzo addicts get clean & has written the Bible of Benzo Withdrawal--"The Ashton Manual".  She is an octogenarian based in the UK and all her works are available online for free.  The woman is a pioneer in her field and it's a shame no one else has caught on least here in the States where benzos are still Schedule IV (aka one step away from "over-the-counter"). 

This documentary that was recently posted to Youtube features Dr. Ashton & does a great job of showcasing the risks of benzodiazepines.  Check it out below:

I'm not advocating a ban on benzos--like opioids, they have their place in modern medicine.  It's just that their rightful place is much smaller than is currently believed.  Short-term use for severe panic or anxiety is fine; daily use for 6-8 weeks is considered "long-term" and should be avoided if you care about your cognitive functioning, mood stability or overall health.  We drone on about our "Opioid Epidemic" but fail to acknowledge the role benzos have played in many of these overdoses.

There's been some controversy over whether benzodiazepines cause cancer, but since that hasn't been definitively proven I'll leave it alone for now.  What HAS been shown in several meta-analyses of depressant drug users is a greatly increased risk of death from all causes (some of which include cancer).  See below.

Hypnotics' Association With Mortality or Cancer: A Matched Cohort Study

Mortality Associated with Anxiolytic and Hypnotic Drugs - A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Hypnotic Drug Risks of Mortality, Infection, Depression, and Cancer: But Lack of Benefit

If that doesn't scare you, check out this lengthy Wikipedia page on the Effects of the Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: Panacea Hemp Oil Extract Softgels (75mg)

Panacea softgel packaging

I received a generous free sample of Panacea Life Sciences brand 75mg Hemp Oil Extract Softgels in a giveaway contest.  The sample arrived quickly in a plain, unmarked envelope 2 days after requesting them.  The packaging is super professional looking.  Upon opening, the smell is, well, not so great.  The softgels definitely have that hemp/dirt smell.  But it's not terrible.  They're small & easy to swallow which more than makes up for it.  They came with a nice glossy information card that contains more info about the product:  Full-Spectrum, less than 0.2% THC, grown in the USA with no pesticides, etc. 

One 75mg softgel
After taking 1 softgel, I feel nothing in the way of a head change which makes sense because hemp oil is not psychoactive.  The package doesn't list the amount of CBD in each capsule, which is kind of disappointing.  In fact I'm not entirely sure whether it's derived from hemp or hempseed, as the label doesn't say.  (What exactly is hemp oil extract anyway?)  That's one thing I'm not a fan of when it comes to supplements: unclear labeling.  I prefer to know which parts of the plant it came from, how much CBD it contains & where the hemp was grown.

There is no burping or stomach irritation from the gel cap.  No GI upset which is huge for me since I have both GERD & IBS.  It appears to be a reliable hemp oil supplement if that's what you're looking for.  I prefer CBD isolates & whole hemp flower myself, but hemp oil definitely has its own health benefits.  It contains a perfectly balanced 3:1 ratio of the essential fatty acids Omega-3 & Omega-6 and is low in saturated fat compared to other culinary oils.  Other ingredients include bovine gelatin, coconut oil, glycerin & peppermint oil to help with bioavailability. 

Considering that these 7 softgels cost $44 at full price, this was a VERY generous giveaway, for which I'd like to thank Panacea.  I only wish their products were more affordable for the average shopper.  One month's supply of these 75mg softgels costs $93.  But maybe it's worth it?  If they help your health problems significantly enough to cut back on medical costs, Panacea's hemp products might be right for you.  They also have some more affordable products, such as topical salve ($12) & hemp dog supplements ($12).  Woof. 

That Time I Tried: 4-HO-MET

I first tried 4-HO-MET around 2012 during the absolute pinnacle of the research chemical Golden Era (2010-2015).  It was the 2nd psychedelic...