Saturday, November 30, 2019

[Review] - Simple Cure: Indica-Dominant Gummies (5-pack)

Alright!  So we're back with these juicy gummies after previously loving the Sativa-dominant variety.  I bought the first pack on a whim while picking up a Simple Cure vape pod, not expecting much since most canna-candies are hit-or-miss around these parts.  I came to like the gummies more than the vape pod, as they're more discreet & easier to dose accurately.  And they don't irritate my lungs or cause other side effects like vaping seems to.

Front of package

While the Sativa candies are more clear-headed & focused, the Indicas are noticeably more euphoric & mellow... though I'm not sure I could tell them apart consistently in a blind test at the microdoses I'm using.  They taste identical & the effects are pretty similar overall.  As with the other bag, the Indicas are so potent I can't eat an entire 10 mg square in one sitting.  (Yes, I'm a lightweight).  This is a good thing as it saves money & calories.  Each square is only 15 calories & contains an extract made from the whole plant, including cannabinoids & terpenes in addition to THC that are true to the (Sativa or) Indica-dominant label.  Other ingredients include corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, citric acid & sorbitol powder.

The biggest difference is the Indicas don't cause quite as much paranoia & negative thought-loops as the Sativas, making them a better choice for those with anxiety or self-esteem issues.  I like to combine a bite of Indica & Sativa for a well-rounded effect.  My friend prefers the Indica squares & thought they were slightly more intense overall.  I think they're good for different purposes so I stocked up on 2 bags of each.  They come in bags of 5 squares (50 mg THC per bag) & are full-spectrum with no added thickening, thinning or cutting agents.  The blueberry & orange-flavored squares are my favorite.  I can't overstate how "clean" feeling the high is & I love how instantly the effects kick in, which makes it easy to dose.  (I've never had a delayed effect from edibles oddly enough).  I also get much less anxiety/paranoia & drowsy comedown than with smoking.     

Top view of candies inside bag

If you're looking for an effective & reliable edible in Oklahoma, Simple Cure gummies are an excellent choice.   Every square is exactly the same potency so no worrying about getting the whole 50 mg in one bite.  I give the Indica-dominant squares a 4.9 of 5 stars for potency, price & convenience of use.  They also make chocolate squares though they are dark chocolate which looks like it'd irritate my reflux so I haven't tried them.

Simple Cure has perfected the edible-making process.  These are a daily part of my mood & sleep regimen, and I'm not even that big a fan of weed in general.  They make dosing both convenient & discreet, which is not the case with smoked or vaped flower and some vape carts. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

[Review] - Fully Activated CBD: Isolate Slabs & Salve

Vendor:  Fully Activated CBD
Location:  Red Feather Lakes, CO, USA.
Items:  CBD isolate, capsules, burn salve, lip & body products.
Rating:  4.9 of 5 stars

Image result for fully activated cbd

Since my usual CBD vendor (Phytodabs) is revamping their credit card processing system, I decided to try another source.  I use CBD daily for migraine prevention & couldn't wait for Phytodabs to get back to me so why not give someone else a try?  After some shopping around I notice that a lot of vendors are marking their isolate waaaay up to ridiculous prices of $30 or more per gram.  This is plain isolate... not terpsolate (which sells for a whopping $50/gram on said sites).  Sorry, but I am not trying to pay that much plus shipping for some damn isolate!  And you shouldn't either.  CBD isolate is hard to mess up so it doesn't really matter where you get it as long as there's a 3rd party lab test to ensure purity.  

Anyway, I decided on Fully Activated CBD after some sleuthing on Reddit & the company's Facebook page, which is full of glowing reviews.  And their prices were right:  $20 per gram for the pressed slabs of isolate, which is my preferred form, plus $4 for First Class Shipping.  It's much easier to handle the slabs than the powdery crystals which is why I opted for those.  I ordered on November 25th and received my stuff on November 29th which was good considering the 28th was a holiday.  Packaging was sufficiently professional & well-padded.

I only ordered 1 gram of isolate slabs, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened it & found a bonus tub of their full-spectrum salve and a cool reflective sticker included for free!  Very generous and much appreciated.  The slabs look like this:

Fully activated pure CBD isolate bulk. Delivery to all fifty states
CBD slabs: 99%+ pure

They are easy to handle & break up just like they should, vaping smoothly with no aftertaste.  I use my trusty Yocan Evolve Plus to consume them along with the ceramic donut coils which produce a smoother vapor than the quartz coils.  The lab results are posted on the Fully Activated website & show levels of cannabinoids AND residual solvents, terpenes & heavy metals like mercury & lead.  The only thing not tested for are pesticides, but this is still an improvement over most other CBD companies that only test for the bare minimum required by law (i.e. THC content).  

All of Fully Activated's products are made from hemp grown on their own Colorado farms, which is also reassuring.  Hemp is a bioaccumulator of toxins & Chinese hemp is often rife with metals & other toxic compounds, which becomes especially problematic because numerous plants are required to extract small amounts of CBD.  Using hemp grown on clean soil is always preferable to importing Chinese plants grown for the purpose of remediating dirty soil, which is sadly what some American CBD companies do.

99.4%+ Pure CBD Isolate in Slab Form
Fully Activated CBD's lab test results (from website)

As for the full-spectrum salve, it smells awesome & contains 125 mg CBD per tub.  Other ingredients include:  calendula, chamomile, lavender, shea butter, comfrey & beeswax.  I applied some to my temples & the back of my neck during a migraine but am not expecting much, as topical cannabis products are typically best for conditions like eczema, rashes & other skin-deep conditions since they bind only to CB2 receptors in the skin.  But it's got a lovely soothing texture that's not excessively greasy or smelly... reminiscent of Burt's Bees products, so I'll definitely be using it for dry skin & other minor dermal annoyances that arise.  I imagine it'd be good for bug bites, burns/sunburns, scrapes, hives & shingles.  Things like that. 

My $24 haul from Fully Activated!

In conclusion, I give this order from Fully Activated CBD a 4.9 of 5 stars for shipping time, generosity & quality.  The price is reasonable and, assuming the claims on the website are accurate, the quality of the products appears to be higher than many others on the market.  With the lack of FDA regulation, I value safety & purity above things like fancy packaging or exotic flavors and Fully Activated is doing CBD right in that regard.  They may just end up being my new go-to for isolate/slabs after this stellar order.  A+++.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Trident (1 gram)

Trident flower
Notice:  My budshots suck & don't do the actual product any favors.  Please don't let them influence your opinion of the weed.

As a lover of cannabidiol-rich bud, I'm always on the lookout for strains that boast high CBD numbers with low overall THC percentages.  I don't care so much about the ratios as too much THC is still too intense regardless of how much CBD is present.  I like the strains that fall under 10% THC (or preferably less).  So you can imagine my excitement at finding Trident, a strain that contains 12% CBD & around 6% THC (so a 2:1 ratio), but this particular cut contains 10.46% THC & 17.75% CBDLeafly describes the strain as a sweet-and-sour smelling hybrid that produces a focused mental effect & is great for pain.  The dispensary's website lists the terpene profile as:  myrcene, linalool, fenchol, limonene, pinene & caryophyllene. 

I picked up one gram for $15 at a local dispensary.  The buds are shaped like little Christmas trees (!!!) and minimally hairy with a thick & sparkly dusting of trichomes.  The smell is unique and not entirely pleasant--reminiscent of burning rubber & skunk.  My entire room smells of weed since bringing the container home, and that's before opening it.  This is some of the stickiest--and stinkiest--grass I've encountered in ages. 

Since it's extremely cold outside, I pack my one-hitter & discreetly (not) hit it in my closet, blowing the smoke into a pillow.  Yeah... I live with anti-weed peeps in a legal mmj state.  Sucks.  Right away I feel a boost of focus & weedtastic motivation.  I did take a Xanax before smoking so not sure how much that's influencing the effect.  But I know I feel better than before smoking.  I had major dental work done today during a headache & have been in pain ever since... codeine isn't touching it.  This seems to have taken the edge off a little, if only by lifting my spirits and distracting me. 

Trident falls somewhere between Grade A hemp flower & sticky icky marijuana in terms of effects.  However, the look & smell are all marijuana.  It's a great medicinal strain for those who want something with a bit more "kick" than plain CBD flower that won't turn you into a stoned alien, but be warned:  its booming loud smell is not discreet.  The acute effects last about an hour & begin to fade into a smooth descent for about another hour.  Munchies are intense. 

Bottle w/ label

Smoking is one of my least favorite ingestion methods, as it tends to give me side effects like anxiety & a drowsy comedown I don't get with edibles.  But I wanted to try this strain since high-CBD cuts are so rare around these parts.  And I'm glad I did.  It makes a great afternoon spirit-booster & anytime pain reliever.  I already have a large stash of hemp buds & homegrown low-THC flower (Industrial Plant CBD Autoflower), but Trident makes a worthy addition to this collection.  $15/gram is a bit ridiculous for any strain but since it's so rare I didn't mind paying it this time. 

Photo taken with iPotato 11

Overall I give Trident a 4.7 of 5 stars for quality, uniqueness & potency.   The buds could stand to be dried/cured a bit more, and the smell still has me wondering whether they naturally smell that way or were stored somewhere gross before sale.  Regardless, I hope to see more strains like it in dispensaries around the state soon.  We have plenty of high-THC options as it is. 

If you want to know what weed from the '80s & '90s felt like, shoot for something in the 6-10% THC range like Trident because that's what most quality commercial strains contained back then.  CBD percentages have never been this high though.  This is a welcome breakthrough.  Trident is ideal for epilepsy, muscle spasm, migraine, inflammation, psychotic disorders, anxiety & insomnia due to its perfect THC:CBD percentages.  If you like energizing hybrids, don't pass this one by.         

Monday, November 25, 2019

Managing Constipation When Using Opiates

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Defining the Problem

As a daily opioid user who also suffers IBS-C (constipation-dominant), I know a thing or two about chronic constipation.  "Severe constipation" was the first thing noted on my barium X-ray--I can go 2 or even 3 weeks only having 1 or 2 tiny, insignificant bowel movements the size of a ping pong ball.  Then it all comes out on that 4th week (or at least a good amount).  Sorry if this is TMI but this is an article on constipation so we might as well get down to brass tacks, right?

A lot of people think they're constipated if they don't poop daily or every other day. Not so.  According to the Rome IV criteria, you're only considered constipated if you have two of following for the last 3 months:
  • Hard stools in at least 25 percent of defecations
  • Straining in at least 25 percent of defecation
  • A sensation of incomplete evacuation in at least 25 percent of defecations
  • Less than 3 bowel movements per week
  • Use of manual measures to help move or remove the stools from the rectum

Opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin & morphine are known to cause or worsen existing constipation in many users.  Between 40-60% of long-term users develop this side effect, making it one of the most commonly reported opioid side effects.  While rarely dangerous, severe constipation is uncomfortable & can in rare cases lead to fecal impaction & other serious complications if left untreated.  

Treating Opioid-Induced Constipation

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Who can relate?

So what actually works for opioid-induced constipation?  Beginners might start with Miralax or Epsom salts, as both are gentle & don't tend to cause urgency or major changes in fecal texture.  (Make sure to follow directions carefully with Epsom salts to avoid magnesium overdose, and only use the unscented salts).  However, if your constipation is severe you may require something more drastic.  A bottle of magnesium citrate is sure to get the job done, though you may be caught short if you're not by a bathroom when it kicks in.  I've had it happen & it wasn't pretty.

For me, mag citrate is not a long-term solution because the side effects are too drastic.  Ditto for stimulant laxatives like Dulcolax--they can be acceptable as emergency options but the side effects are too intense for regular use.  And magnesium citrate tastes incredibly sour.  Definitely chill it in the fridge before drinking to improve the taste.  There are weaker powdered supplement forms that can be taken daily, which I prefer over the liquid concentrated form that comes in a bottle.

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Drink the whole bottle & prepare to poo.

If none of these things work, talk to your doctor about a prescription option like Linzess, Amitiza or Movantik, the latter of which is made specifically for Opioid-Induced Constipation (OIC).  I haven't tried these but have heard they can work for severe/resistant cases.  However, I much prefer to stick with the safest & most basic options whenever possible.  Opiates cause constipation by slowing movement in the intestines & causing mild dehydration, so exercising daily & upping your water intake can help.  Also be sure to ingest enough soluble fiber--preferably in foods like fruits, veggies & whole grains--every day to stay regular.  But remember:  fiber can worsen constipation if not taken with adequate water.  Caffeine & alcohol don't count toward your daily water intake, as they make you pee & sweat out more water than they contain.

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High-fiber foods keep things moving.

Prune juice
is another safe & natural option that many opiate users swear by...if you can tolerate the taste.  I like to take a big swig followed immediately by an even bigger swig of soda or Slim Fast.  Other supplements that may help include probiotics, vitamin C & soaked chia seedsTiming your opioid dose after breakfast & a workout can also help ensure a proper bowel movement each day if you're used to dosing all day.  Adding a cup of coffee or another caffeine source is often helpful too.  Taking occasional med breaks to reduce tolerance & allow your GI tract to catch up is a good idea if you can swing it.  If your dose is too high & you'd get sick by quitting completely, try cutting it in half for one day a week to see if that helps.  Your bowels & pain tolerance will thank you.

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Prune juice = gentle constipation relief

Not all constipation remedies are taken by mouth.  I've found enemas to be extremely uncomfortable bordering on dangerous.  They make me weak & shaky for hours, so I avoid them at all costs.  Particularly the Fleet brand.  However, glycerin suppositories are a nearly instant way to unblock the lower part of your intestines & get things moving.  I actually prefer them to most oral options since they work so quickly & are more predictable.  Simply insert the suppository all the way, lie down on your side for 5-30 minutes & then evacuate.  Make sure to wash your hands after insertion.

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Glycerin suppositories.  Keep refrigerated.

If you can prevent OIC before it starts, do that.  Begin taking preventative measures as soon as you start taking opioids so you don't develop it.  Once OIC is established, it becomes harder & harder to treat according to some studies.  Bulk-forming laxatives like psyllium husks should be avoided when dealing with OIC.  Everything else is relatively safe in a healthy adult.

To wrap it up, there is no one-time fix for opioid-related constipation.  As long as you're taking this class of drugs, you will continue to experience constipation unless you're vigilantly taking preventative measures like exercise, drinking lots of water, eating fiber & drinking prune juice or taking probiotics (if not something stronger).  Thankfully, constipation is one of the only major side effects of opioids when they're taken responsibly... even long-term.  While uncomfortable & annoying, it's far from the worst that can happen in terms of medication side effects.  If you can avoid addiction & overdose, you shouldn't expect any organ damage even with heavy chronic use of opiates.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Life & Death on the Salton Sea

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Once a posh resort town rivaling the popularity of Palm Springs, the Salton Sea in California is now a dying wasteland that's been allowed to cause mass destruction to the animals and residents who live there.  Due to unique ecological circumstances, the sea gets more toxic as time goes on and threatens residents as far away as San Diego & Los Angeles.  To understand why, we must look at how the Salton Sea was created & how it ended up in its current state.  (Note:  When I refer to the "Salton Sea," I'm including all surrounding areas including Salton City, Bombay Beach, Slab City & any other small communities living near/on the water).

The Salton Sea is a man-made lake and California's largest body of water.  It was formed accidentally when, in 1905, a flood breached a canal & allowed the Colorado River to rush into a dry lake bed known as the Salton Sink.  In the 2 years it took to fix the breach, a lake nearly twice as big as Lake Tahoe had arisen.  By the mid-1950s it was being marketed as a "Miracle in the Desert" upon which palm trees were planted & golf courses, yacht clubs & bars were established.  There were even flamingos brought in to complete the aesthetic.  Stars from the Beach Boys to Desi Arnaz & Frank Sinatra frequented the Salton Sea.  All this in one of the least habitable places in North America--a barren desert in Death Valley that was never meant to house people, let alone be a swinging vacation destination.

The wildlife population is perhaps the most unique feature of the Salton Sea.  Shortly after the lake was created, it was stocked with all kinds of fish including orangemouth corvina, Gulf croaker and tilapia...lots & lots of tilapia.  The fish drew in giant flocks of ducks, seagulls, grebes & bald eagles--450 bird species in all.  For perspective, the Salton Sea is home to 80% of Cali's white pelican population in the winter, largely because the rest of the state is overrun by human dwellings like homes, streets & other buildings.     

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Fishermen eyeing their catch at the Salton Sea, circa 1960s

With all these animals & humans setting up shop in the Salton Sea, things went from great to terrible in a short span of time when it went belly up.  This wasn't your typical bankruptcy > ghost town story; we're talking massive water poisonings & wildlife die-offs resulting in a stench so foul it drove vacationers away en masse.  This happened in the mid-1970s due to agricultural run-off draining into the lake, which has no natural drainage system itself.  For two summers in a row, the beach was inexplicably littered with dead fish bodies as the lake reached a critical mass of pesticide runoff.  Then two freak storms finished off what was left of the place.  By 1980 property values were so low people couldn't get out fast enough.  

But it got worse.  

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Rusted remains in Bombay Beach

Some residents couldn't afford to just sell their (now dirt cheap) property and move away, thus they were forced to remain in this stinking wasteland.  The lake became trapped in a vicious cycle of death & destruction that went like this:  farm runoff fed the lake, causing it to become more salty with each passing day.  This promoted the growth of toxic algae blooms which suffocated the fish & caused them to drown.  Their rotting bodies then fed the algae, restarting the cycle all over again.  In 1999 nearly 8 million tilapia died in one day.  Of course the birds who feasted on the fish were eventually affected too.  A wave of avian botulism killed off thousands of pelicans in the mid-'90s alone.  Predatory birds then swooped in & attacked other disoriented birds stranded on the beach, and... you get the picture.  The beach became a scene of mass death rivaling a warzone or the plague but with birds & fish.  

Human Health Impact

Unfortunately, for humans the worst is yet to come.  As the Salton Sea dries up, it's exposing layers of alkaline dust laced with decades of built-up pesticides & toxic algae (and god knows what else), causing a big stink and serious health problems for surrounding areas.  The stench of raw sewage can be smelt as far away as Los Angeles on a windy day.  And the people living within a stone's throw of the lake are in even greater danger, as you can see in this 2004 documentary narrated by John Waters (skip to 23:59 to hear of all the untimely deaths of Salton residents).  The "sand" is made up of millions of fish corpses as well as silt & mud, which can be like trudging through quicksand.  Temperatures in the summer can reach a scorching 125 degrees, but it feels closer to 150 due to the humidity from the evaporating lake.  Eating fish caught in the Sea is a surefire way to get botulism.  

"Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea" (2004)

This toxic combo has already proven deadly for some.  On May 29, 2009, a teen named Marie Dugan died of a sudden asthma attack while at her home in Coachella, CA (not far from the Salton Sea).  Her sister Michelle (27) who is also asthmatic was told by doctors she has the "lungs of an 80-year-old" and has to wear a vibrating vest to break up the fluid in her lungs every day, as well as using an inhaler a staggering seven times each day.  She's even been considered for a lung transplant.  COPD, asthma & other respiratory diseases are exceedingly common in the Mexicali area near the Salton Sea.  A 6-year-old boy who lived in the town of Imperial died of asthma in 2013, as did an 8-year-old girl in nearby El Centro in the following year.  

While there's no way to prove that toxic dust caused Marie's death or Michelle's lung disease, what we know about inhaling particulate matter like dust is pretty damning.  In addition, a toxin found in algae blooms called BMAA has been linked to diseases like ALS, Parkinson's disease & dementia.  Not great news for the citizens of the Salton Sea or surrounding areas, which are also being strangled by thick, heavy pollution pumped out by factories along the Mexican border.  

Microcosm of America

So why does this tiny ghost town matter?  Because it's a microcosm of so many of America's crumbling towns & cities that have been bled dry by corporate vampires & left to rot once profits dry up.  Parts of central Florida are currently facing a similar problem with agricultural runoff & algae blooms, putting thousands at risk while they wait for politicians & corporations to clean up the mess they made.  If the Salton Sea fiasco is any indication, they'll be waiting a long time.

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Recession-era ghost town.  Depressing :(

Every state has at least one "Salton Sea" of their own, if not several:  A once-booming hub that's now completely empty or inhabited only by the poorest of the poor who can't afford to flee to greener pastures.  Towns where the nearest grocery store or hospital is 45 minutes away & there's no public transportation whatsoever.  Where the schools don't offer arts or humanities and the textbooks are the same in the 8th grade as the 5th.  I know because I grew up in one & am surrounded by several others.  Even many big metro areas are becoming too expensive due to gentrification, pushing out long-time residents in favor of multi-millionaire & billionaire tenants (see:  NYC, Seattle & L.A.).  But the crumbling rural towns offer the most stark images of a nation in decline.  

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Two Guns, Arizona.  Ghost town where Billy The Kid once hid out.

These towns are the product of the short-sighted greed of previous generations who are now nearing the end of their lives & won't live to see the fallout from their personal & political actions.  These same folks love to blame 'lazy millennials' and 'drug fiends' for the downfall of their precious stomping grounds, not realizing that joblessness & addiction are a natural outgrowth of stagnating wages + ever-increasing cost of living combined with a lack of recreation, beauty & hope they enjoyed as youths.  Who cares what comes of the wildlife & people of the Salton Sea in 2040?  Certainly not some old rich dude who profited from its heyday in the '50s & '60s & fled before it could melt into the sulfuric stink ditch it's now turned into.  But maybe he should care about what he's leaving behind for his kids, grandkids & their peers?  Because, you know, it's the humane & non-sociopathic thing to do?    

At the risk of sounding preachy, we've got to do better about cleaning up our messes.  Between overpopulation, over-consumption, pollution & the direct destruction of land for cities & other developments, humans will have plundered everything worth maintaining in only a few short decades.  Economic booms are fine so long as someone stays behind to invest in cleaning up the aftermath when things go bust.  

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Abandoned oil pump.  One of many in the Midwest & South.

Better yet, more planning should be put into preventing disasters caused by things like agricultural runoff into bodies of water or oil & chemical spills.  There are endless examples of other nightmare scenarios such as Love Canal, Times Beach, 3 Mile Island & Libby, Montana that resulted from a mix of greed, poor long-term planning & disregard for nature & human life.  Prevention is always cheaper & easier than cleanup but cutting corners is too tempting for those at the top, thus we repeat the same mistakes to the same effect.  And of course corporate lobbying allows the wealthy to have laws written in their favor so regulations on their companies are weak.  Things aren't tilted in favor of the average individual citizen.  And we're the ones who pay with our health & lives.  

As of January 1, 2018, the Salton Sea entered its final death spiral.  Because of a water transfer agreement with San Diego, the lake will now receive 40% less water, causing a 20-foot drop along with majorly receded banks.  Any remaining fish will be killed off by 2045, as its waters will be 5x saltier than the Pacific Ocean by then.  Which will in turn disperse the birds.  And so on.  Every action has a reaction, and not all of them are entirely predictable until they start happening.  We're likely looking at another Dust Bowl/Grapes of Wrath situation if something drastic isn't done.  

Art piece by Olivia Steele at Bombay Beach Biennale festival

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Prescription Stimulants: A Comparison

While there are many prescription pharmaceutical stimulants on the market today, their numbers pale in comparison to the variety that existed in the mid-20th Century.  Phenmetrazine (a favorite of the Beatles), biphetamine, meth + barbiturate combos, tenuate, phenylpropanolamine, Raphetamine & others were banned for various reasons--high abuse potential, heart or liver damage, etc, leaving behind a basic set of two types of Rx stims:  amphetamines & cocaine-like drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin).  There are also a class of "wakefulness promoters" like modafinil (Provigil) & armodafinil.

Of these, I've tried the following:  Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, Ritalin & Provigil.  There are many more on the 'want-to-try-one-day' list, such as Desoxyn & phendimetrazine (Bontril).  But I will attempt to describe the effects of those I have tried for anyone out there who's curious how they compare.

Adderall:  This is the bread-and-butter of the Rx stim world.  I find it to be the most fun & light-hearted amphetamine.  It contains both levo- and dextro-amphetamine, making it a racemic mixture that's a bit more jittery than plain dextro-amphetamine.  Some people like this while others find it unnerving.  I happen to be in the former category.  Adderall gives me an all-around better energy boost than plain dex & just feels more "fun".  Of course I keep my doses of all stims low because my heart races too much if I don't.  And who needs the extra anxiety?

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Adderall XR ad.  (Kid is clearly manic).  

Dexedrine:  I first took Dexedrine on the 4th of July in 2015.  It was a fun but intense day & night.  I find dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) to feel very "serious," reminiscent of a Nazi drug that just makes you want to put your head down & bang out assembly line work or something.  I wouldn't turn my nose up at it but it's not quite as recreational as Adderall for me.  Just has a more cold, utilitarian feel.

Dexedrine:  For "victims" of overeating.

Vyvanse:  Vyvanse is a pro-drug of dextroamphetamine, which means it has to be processed through the liver before it "becomes" dextroamphetamine.  Thus it can take a while before the actual effects kick in.  This isn't a bad thing I've found:  it has the desired stimulant effects & is a bit smoother feeling than plain Dex.  Very similar & longer-acting in my opinion.  I probably couldn't tell them apart in a blind test. 

Ritalin:  Ahh, Ritalin.  Baby's first stimulant.  Methylphenidate (Ritalin) belongs to a different class than the amphetamines & is actually more similar to cocaine in its method of action, which can be good or bad depending on your personal preference.  In my case, it just makes me too jittery & tense to be of much use.  Again, would I turn my nose up at it if offered some?  No.  But I prefer even Benzedrex to Ritalin because the cocaine-type drugs just aren't my thing.  Ditto for Concerta

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'Brighten the Day' Ritalin Ad

Provigil:  Modafinil (Provigil) is yet another type of stimulant--ahh, wakefulness-promoting agent--that exists to treat things like narcolepsy & shift work sleep disorder.  I was prescribed it in college on the suspicion that I had narcolepsy.  While it prevented daytime napping, it did NOTHING to alleviate the fatigue I experience when the sun is up, which led to a miserable & tortuous state of wakefulness I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Plus it was really fucking expensive.  Give me real stims or give me sleep. 

Have you tried any Rx stimulants I haven't included here?  Share your experiences below!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

[Review] - Simple Cure: Sativa Dominant Gummies (5 pack)

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Since I finally found a dispensary that carries this awesome brand, I thought I'd stock up on everything they had to offer.  In addition to the Simple Cure vape pod, I picked up some Sativa-Dominant Infused Gummies for $14.95.  Each pack contains 50 mg full-spectrum CO2-extracted cannabis oil gummies.  My friend also picked up a pack despite having no luck with gummies of any kind in the past.  No effects whatsoever.  And she has an even lower tolerance than I.

After hearing her report of great sleep & happy dreams at only 10 mg, I decided to try a similar dose myself.  Granted, I'm generally not a Sativa fan but I figured I might as well try their Sativa line since the vape pod was Indica.  The gummies taste great at first with a strong aftertaste of bitter ganja.  The effects set in within 5-10 minutes for me & are full-throttle.  And this was before I even finished the full 10 mg gummy!  I'm a lightweight but can say confidently that these candies are much more effective than the THC distillate ones I've tried so far.  I feel damn near as high as when I've taken Rick Simpson Oil, which is saying a lot.  My friend was unable to remember wtf she was talking about mid-sentence after a single gummy and I now understand why.  These are no joke.

Simple Cure gummy squares

After being in a foul mood all day due to head pain & Xanax after-effects, this is a welcome lift.  I feel high but not drowsy like I do with potent weed or Sativa strains & less dull/sleepy than after RSO.  These would be a perfect breakfast or brunch treat to make the day more interesting... just don't eat too many if you're not moderately tolerant already.  I could see myself getting WAY too high with only 2-3 of these bad boys.  The munchie effect is strong & I find myself laughing at stuff I normally don't find amusing, like old TV shows I've seen a hundred times.  To put it plainly:  I'm fucking ripped off less than a whole 10mg gummy.  Maybe 3/4ths of one.

The only downside is, like all sour or fruit-flavored products, these irritate my stomach & make my GERD symptoms worse which I expected.  Yet another reason I'm glad they're so potent & I only need to eat one.  Overall I give these Simple Cure squares a 4.9 of 5 stars for potency & overall quality.  Can't see myself bothering with other brands of cannabis candies after trying these.  They're much more discreet than the vape pod & great for daytime use in small amounts.  Wish I would've picked up another bag.  If my friend will trade me for an Indica square & I like those, I'll review a bag next time. 

[Review] - Simple Cure: Berry White Vape Pod (1/2 gram)

Simple Cure is one of the most highly regarded brands in my state's medical marijuana industry.  They use CO2 extraction & produce full-spectrum products with native cannabis terpenes, which is apparently exceedingly rare.  (I've searched & there are only a handful of brands that offer all 3 of these features here).  So I was beyond excited when a local dispensary got some Simple Cure vape pods in stock.  I'd never used a pod system before but it looks easy enough.  The budtender showed me how to work the SQRL (pronounced: "Squirrel") brand battery & I was off to the races.

Back of pod box 

Simple Cure makes two main types of cartridges & pods:  "Harmony" (Sativa-Dominant) & "Tanglewood" (Indica-Dominant).  As much as I want to be a Sativa person who gets an energy boost from weed, it seems to have the opposite effect, with citrus-y Sativas making me more groggy & tired than most Indicas.  ADHD perhaps?  Maybe.  So I went for the Berry White strain of the Tanglewood variety, which is a type of weed I've been wanting to try forever.  Leafly describes it as about 60% calming with a balanced effect consisting of physical relaxation & mental euphoria.  Berry White is the offspring of the legendary Blueberry & White Widow with flowers of a blue hue & bright orange hairs.  Yum.

After charging the battery & priming the pod, I take a few puffs in the middle of a busy day.  The taste is subtle but delicious...reminiscent of pine with hints of cream.  And a little bit of lime.  I instantly feel a head change & slight relief from the migraine pain that's been ailing me on this ice cold wintery day.  The euphoric aspect is definitely there as well.  I try to take a nap but am unable, though I doubt the pod is to blame.  But it doesn't make me nearly as sedated as the Alaskan Thunderfuck cart I wrote about recently, which is supposed to be a "morning" strain.

Inner packaging

It took me a minute to figure out the pod system but it hits like a champ after priming.  I like it at least as well as the carts, if not better.  The Simple Cure products definitely smell like weed so don't expect discreetness if hitting this indoors.  But I'd say it's well worth the trade-off to know you're getting the potency & purity of the whole plant rather than hot dog water.  It just tastes so CLEAN.  Like hitting a bowl of frosty flower or hemp buds.  The pod contains 0.7 mL of liquid & no PG, VG or MCT.  Just raw cannabis extract with a total of 77.8% THC, 0.74% CBN & no CBD.  Each strain is unique in its cannabinoid content, unlike the plain distillate vapes.

SQRL battery & pod

The battery has two settings--"peak" and "micro"--which is also new for me.  (I'm used to working with 510-threaded Chinese batteries with no temperature settings, lol).  The micro setting produces very little vapor while the peak one seems to work better.  It came with a 90-day warranty which is cool too.  Interesting-looking white USB cord is included.  It is both wick & ceramic compatible (whatever that means) & contains a 400 mAh rechargeable internal battery.

Overall I give this Berry White Simple Cure pod a 4.8 of 5 stars for quality, potency & uniqueness.  Price is a bit high as they don't currently offer full-gram pods or carts but I go through these things VERY slowly so I don't mind.  This will last plenty long.  (I still haven't finished any of my cannabis vape carts yet because I hit them max 2-3 times per day).  I look forward to trying more of their Tanglewood (Indica-Dominant) strains and maybe even some Sativas.  Now that I have the battery I'm ready to hoard some Simple Cure pods!

Update:  After more extensive use, I'm noticing some throat irritation & shortness of breath after taking single hits of this vape at night.  At first I thought I was coming down with a cold but that's not the case--I only sneeze, cough & have a headache the morning after hitting the vape.  
     While I don't doubt the pod is free of carrier oils & thickeners/thinning agents, I do have concerns about whether the source weed was grown with pesticides or plant-growth regulators, or if the pod itself might contain dangerous metals.  I don't pretend to know.  There's definitely something in there I'm sensitive to, unfortunately.  Taking tiny single hits doesn't cause much problem but with all this vape cart stuff in the news I think I'll abstain from buying any more carts or pods going least until this state can tell us more about where & how the weed is grown & what's in the end product.    

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Managing Migraine...With Legal Drugs

Image result for migraine art

Contrary to popular belief, migraine is not a synonym for "really bad headache."  Migraine is a chronic neurological condition that causes a range of full-body symptoms of which head pain is just one.  It's actually more like epilepsy than a typical headache in terms of physiology and is often treated using the same medications, such as topiramate & gabapentin.  But these meds are only a Band-Aid: there's no cure for migraine--only management of symptoms.  In addition to severe one-sided head pain, sufferers often experience nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, smell & sound; changes in sleep & appetite, mood disruption & difficulty with memory or speech.  But symptoms can be even weirder & include things like frequent urination or cravings for specific foods.

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from the American Migraine Foundation

Nobody knows the exact cause of migraine other than that there's a strong genetic link, and women are disproportionately affected.  18% of all women in the U.S. are affected compared to 9% of men, but up to 43% of all women during their reproductive years will experience migraines.  That's a lot.

So what's the solution?  Many medications are prescribed to treat symptoms like head pain or nausea--these fall into two main categories:  preventatives & abortives.  The former are taken on a regular basis to prevent or reduce migraine frequency while the latter are used only when a migraine attack is in full swing.  Some of the most common are the triptans like sumatriptan (Imitrex) & rizatriptan (Maxalt).  For the really severe or resistant ones, you may be lucky enough to get Fioricet, which contains a barbiturate (butalbital) and caffeine.  I am prescribed this & it is a potent benzo-like med that indeed knocks out the pain but comes with an entire day of depression & irritability after it wears off.  Caffeine tablets help with the less severe headaches, though caffeine can cause rebound pain for some people.  Ditto for opioids, acetaminophen & other painkillers.

While some folks may have luck with various diets & other tailor-made strategies, each migraineur is unique & there's no one-size-fits-all solution.  That said, I've found that CBD in the form of isolate or hemp flower prevents at least 65% of my chronic migraines when taken regularly.  This is significant because nothing else I've tried comes close to that.  Vaping, smoking or sublingual administration are the most efficient methods for consuming CBD (see my previous article here).  Don't waste your time with weak gummies or cheap CBD bought through Groupon.  Quality is already too variable because it's a totally unregulated industry.  Choose pure CBD isolate or hemp flower from a reputable online source that offers 3rd party lab testing.

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CBD isolate

If you respond well to meds like codeine or hydrocodone but can't acquire a prescription, kratom is a great alternative (and generally safer too in that it doesn't cause respiratory depression).  Red-vein strains like Borneo or Bali are the best painkillers in the kratom family, but again, everyone's different so you'll need to experiment to see which works best for you.  When possible, opt for plain ground leaf instead of extracts as the former is more cost effective & safer since nothing is added or altered.  And avoid buying kratom (or CBD for that matter) in gas stations, smoke shops or other brick-and-mortar establishments that market things like bongs or faux pep pills, as the price tends to be jacked up & adulteration is more likely.  A kilogram of quality kratom can be purchased online for $70-$130 and will last much longer than a few pricey capsules or extract "shots" in fancy packages.

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Kratom whole leaves

If you've found relief with Fioricet or benzos, you might try kava or Valerian root.  These legal, plant-based supplements act on the same GABA pathways in the brain to produce a mild relaxing effect but without the addictive effects or dangerous withdrawal symptoms of benzos & barbiturates.  I find them especially helpful for the muscle tension in my neck & shoulders I get before a migraine hits.  Gentle massage & use of a heating pad are also good for this purpose.  These supplements can cause drowsiness so be sure to avoid driving until you know how they affect you.

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Valerian root (whole)

Another unlikely ally I've found are Benzedrex inhalers (used as directed, not taken orally).  Benzedrex contains menthol, lavender & the stimulant propylhexedrine which constricts blood vessels in the nose.  This can feel really good during a migraine when all the blood vessels in your head are dilated & throbbing.  Just be sure not to overdo it lest you risk rebound congestion which isn't fun.  If you prefer the more subtle route, magnesium is a safe & proven way to ease the muscle spasms & tension that often accompany migraine attacks.  I prefer Epsom salts dissolved in water, which have a mild laxative effect--much milder than magnesium citrate.  But any form will work.

Identifying your migraine triggers is vital to prevention & management.  Some common ones include:  hormonal changes before your menstrual period, weather/barometric pressure changes, crying, stress & dehydration.  Keeping a journal of your symptoms & what you did that day can help identify patterns you might otherwise miss.  Make sure to tell your doctor about any supplements or over-the-counter meds you take so they can create a safe treatment plan for you.

Found something that knocks out your migraines & isn't listed here?  Share below in the comments!

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