Sunday, May 24, 2020

Lockdown Documentaries

Since most of us are still on lockdown, out of school for Summer break or otherwise "enjoying" extra downtime due to the coronavirus, I figured I'd compile a list of documentaries & docuseries I've watched over the years that my readers might dig.  Not all of these are drug related but I have seen at least one episode of all of them & can vouch for their quality.  All can be found online, many for free.  None of them star Joe Exotic.  🐯

Without further ado here's the list.  The title is on the left followed by the distribution company & a quick summary of the content.


Dark Side of the Ring - VICE (Tragic & scandalous details of the lives of pro wrestlers).

Psychedelica:  Psychedelics & Consciousness - Gaia (Scientific/historic look at the role of hallucinogens in human society).

Small Town Ecstasy - HBO (Follows a raver father whose questionable parenting tears his family apart).

The House I Live In - BBC (Excellent doc on the human impact of the drug war).

Trial By Media - Netflix (Cases in which media interference directly affected the legal outcome).

Unsung - TV One (Series on Black musicians whose stories haven't been adequately told before).

The Last Dance - ESPN (10-part biography on Michael Jordan & the Chicago Bulls at their peak).

Amazon Empire: The Rise & Reign of Jeff Bezos - PBS Frontline (Exposé on aspiring trillionaire Bezos).

My Perestroika - POV (Dark film on the last days of the U.S.S.R.)

Jonestown:  Life & Death of Peoples Temple - Firelight Media (Excellent doc on the subject of Jonestown featuring survivors).

Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends - BBC Two (Series exploring "weird" groups ranging from porn stars to Black Nationalists).

A Death in St. Augustine - PBS (Vibrant young woman dies unexpectedly.  Was it suicide or did her cop boyfriend kill her?).

The Case of the Frozen Addicts - NOVA (Doctor happens upon opiate addicts with rapid-onset Parkinson's caused by adulterated heroin which leads to medical breakthrough).

Boy, Interrupted - HBO Films (Boy with bipolar depression is filmed through his ups & downs, including suicidal thoughts starting at age 4).

The Age of AIDS - PBS Frontline (Multi-part doc on the AIDS epidemic from the early days through 2006).

The Crash Reel - HBO Documentary Films (Pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce's life-changing head injury & long road to recovery).

Who Killed Adam Mann? - PBS Frontline (Tragic look into the murder of 5-year-old by his parents & the failed NY child welfare system that allowed it).

Tear-jerking animal rights films:  Blackfish, Blood Lions & The Cove.

Wild music documentaries:  The Decline of Western Civilization: Parts 1, 2 & 3Gimme Shelter; The Last Days of Left Eye.


There are SO many others that deserve to be here that I've cut for time or can't remember.  Documentaries & biographies are pretty much my 2nd love.  Got a fave you'd like to add?  Drop it in the comments below!

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Head Injury & Mental Illness: An (Obvious) Missing Link

After going down a rabbit hole of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) documentaries, I'm noticing a pattern:  the condition is being labeled as various mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression & even schizophrenia in patients shortly before they die & get "correctly" diagnosed with CTE at autopsy.  This means one of two things:  either CTE mimics these diverse mental illnesses almost perfectly, or head trauma is capable of actually causing these illnesses.  If it's the former, CTE is the new Great Imitator, perfectly mimicking conditions as diverse as ADHD, depression & paranoid delusions.  If it's the latter, that means psychiatry has been wrong about the causes of said mental illnesses for a long time.  At least in some people.

While they always lead with the caveat that the cause of mental illness is "not fully known," scientists usually attribute depression, anxiety & other psychiatric disorders to a combination of genetics & environment.  "Environment" generally refers to one's upbringing, experiences such as childhood trauma and other external stressors.  In theory it may include things like drug or alcohol exposure in the womb or lead poisoning, but it's exceedingly rare for psych doctors to ask about biological risk factors like head trauma in practice.  That's a huge missed opportunity to learn about the causes of mental illness if nothing else.

The chemical imbalance theory of depression, for instance, has been pushed on the public for years by pharmaceutical companies with a financial stake in selling medications that correct these imbalances.  While these meds work for some people (I've taken Prozac for over a decade), they're rarely sufficient by themselves for treating mild to moderate depression.  In fact, SSRI's like Prozac performed little better (and sometimes worse) than placebos in several trials.  Yet they're still the "golden standard of treatment" for depression along with talk therapy.  But what if your depression is caused by trauma to the part of the brain that controls mood rather than an emotionally traumatic childhood experience or a serotonin imbalance?

Maybe the problem is that, what we label depression is not one disorder but a vast collection of different ones with unique causes?  In reality there are 9 known types of depression with almost contradictory sounding symptoms.  As an example, here's a comparison of the symptoms of two types of depression.  The ones in red ones belong to Major Depression & the blue ones to Atypical DepressionInsomnia/Hypersomnia; Weight Loss/Weight Gain; Anxiety/Anhedonia; Appetite Loss/Overeating.  And despite the name, Atypical Depression is the more common of the two.  It's also harder to treat and much more common in women, possibly having a link to thyroid dysfunction.  Imagine how many other "types" of depression--not to mention other mental illnesses--exist that we haven't identified yet!

CTE:  A Combo of Cognitive & Psychiatric Decline

CTE on the other hand is a type of fatal, progressive dementia.  Dementias are known for their effects on memory, judgment & cognitive ability.  So why does it cause such stark symptoms of mental illness in addition to cognitive impairment?  Alzheimer's Disease doesn't generally cause people to become volatile & violent or develop frank psychosis like CTE does, but some other types of dementia do (Frontotemporal Dementia, for instance).  Simply put, the brain controls personality, mood, cognition & everything that determines all of our behavior.  When we damage it repeatedly, it can understandably cause problems.  But some people still don't fully understand this, hence the high prevalence of physical abuse of children, domestic violence, contact sports, war & other types of head-trauma inducing violence in our "civilized" society.  The cost of this on our society is as high as any of the major diseases we face today.

Dark Side of the Ring: Chris Benoit

Head trauma has long been a known risk factor for committing violent acts up to & including mass murder.  In fact, it's part of the triad of factors along with autism & a history of child abuse that is cited as a potential contributor to this type of anti-social behavior.  Obviously, not everyone with these risk factors goes on to commit murder, but it's interesting to note head trauma's role.  Infamous serial killers Gary Heidnik, Bobby Joe Long, Henry Lee Lucas & Richard Ramirez all incurred serious head injuries prior to committing their crime sprees.  For Bobby Joe Long, it was a single motorcycle accident that his family members say changed his personality forever while the others were all repeatedly hit in the head during childhood.  (Oh, and you can pretty much be sure any famous serial killer served in the military prior to starting their killing career.  Correlation doesn't equal causation, but war is the source of many a head wound so you can't overlook its role, or that of PTSD, in causing violence here at home).

Because "CTE" is widely considered a sports-related illness, these cases tend to be overlooked or not connected with the phenomenon.  That needs to change.  How many women & children are on the path to developing CTE or other dementias due to head trauma at the hands of domestic abusers?  How many soldiers in warzones will come home with not only the severe burden of PTSD but also the added effects of a head injury?  How many suicides--and homicide--will result?

One question science hasn't answered is whether there's a condition that mimics CTE but doesn't progress to the fatal form.  Many athletes appear to have some degree of the disease yet have lived to ripe old ages (OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson & many others).  CTE is 100% progressive & fatal and its sufferers die at an average age of 51, though they certainly live longer than that in some instances.  These folks make it clear that, even if you don't get full-blown CTE that kills you, repeated head trauma can still eff up your quality of life in a big way.  And perhaps they'll end up with ALS or Parkinsonism in the future as a manifestation of the damage they incurred all those years ago.  (Yes, these terrible diseases have also been linked to CTE/head trauma; see this Wikipedia list of NFL players with ALS & CTE).

The problem with diagnosing CTE in living people is that it's invariably fatal and can't be confirmed until autopsy.  Neurologists can be reasonably sure using imaging & taking a medical history, but it's still iffy in the ethics department to give a terminal diagnosis when there's no way to know for sure someone has it.  Just don't go diagnosing yourself and doing something drastic.  Get a second & third opinion about what's going on with your brain health because there are things you can do to manage symptoms in some cases.

KTNV:  Brain Injuries in Domestic Violence Victims

To wrap this up, the old adage that violence begets violence or waxing poetic about "generational curses" may have more of a biological basis than we ever realized.  Sure, we learn how to behave from the role models around us, but sometimes these lessons are literally beaten into our skulls from an early age as well.  My own dad uses the phrase "I'll knock some sense into him!" as if hitting someone in the head will make them smarter.  Yeah.  Not how that works.  Just the opposite, actually.

Do you know somebody with traumatic brain injury that resulted in mental illness or a major personality change?  Would love to discuss in the comments.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

[Movie Review] - Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics

Just got done watching Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics, the new Netflix documentary featuring the first-hand stories of celebrities recounting their respective hallucinogen trip stories.  The film contains generous amounts of colorful animation to illustrate the stories as well as actors reenacting the celebrities' trips, which is consistently entertaining.  Some stories are hilarious (Carrie Fisher & Rosie Perez had me LOL'ing so loud my dog barked at me from the computer room) while others are more serious.  It's bizarre to watch Sting talk about tripping on peyote & a bit sad seeing Anthony Bourdain & Carrie Fisher looking so alive not so long ago.

There's also some valuable social commentary in the form of mock anti-drug ads that call out the biased, overly exaggerated government propaganda that we've all been exposed to since the Nixon era.  This makes the film worth watching with your Boomer parents/grandparents if only to show them the extent of their own bias.  There are also a few basic harm reduction tips sprinkled throughout, like "don't drive while tripping" and general set and setting advice.  Groovy.

Whether you love the movie or not, it signals a shift in the way the mainstream views psychedelics.  This is where we were with cannabis when shows like Weeds came out in the 2000's shortly before it was legalized in many states.  If we play our cards right we can have the same with other drugs like hallucinogens.  Balanced pieces like this are a step in the right direction.  I commend the producers of Have a Good Trip & Netflix for airing it.  (Bonus:  The movie's title is super similar to the name of this very blog.  Dope!)

Have A Good Trip trailer

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Accepting Donations

Here's the deal, friendos:

I'm an independent freelance writer who does this as a passion project.  Since my blog is "drug-related," I can't use Google Ad Sense at all.  Therefore I make $0 from my work.  

If you'd like to make a contribution, you can do so via CashApp, Bitcoin (BTC) or Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to the addresses below.  I hope to be adding more payment options soon.  I love writing vendor reviews & harm reduction articles but times are hard & I can't afford to do this totally unpaid forever.  If you feel helped, informed or entertained by an article you've seen here, consider dropping something in my account.  Any amount helps.  $1, $3, $5.  It all goes back into upgrades & upkeep for this site.  THANKS!  👐

To donate, just click on the CashApp link or copy & paste the Bitcoin addresses listed below into your Bitcoin wallet & choose 'send'.  If you have any questions, leave a comment below this blog post & I'll get back to you.  These payment methods are completely anonymous so your donations are not attached to your name, physical location or other identifying information.  However, if you'd like to be recognized for your contribution I'd be happy to @ you on Twitter or thank you by name on this blog.  Just let me know!

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[Review] - Rick Simpson Oil: Rancho Pura Verde (OG Kush)

I don't go to the dispensary often but when I do, I stock up.  On my last run I picked up some Rick Simpson Oil along with my flower & edibles.  Rancho Pura Verde isn't well regarded in my state as a brand but it was all my dispensary had available so I went for it.  I use RSO in my homemade weed suppositories (actually I use them as "tampons" vaginally...sorry if that's TMI) so I'm not really ingesting it anyway.  I went all out & put a lot in this batch, though I couldn't tell you how much as I don't actually measure or weigh it.  The only ingredients are cocoa butter & RSO.  Here's how I make them in case you want to do it yourself.

This particular batch is OG Kush/Indica.  OG Kush comes from a Northern California strain crossed with Hindu Kush from Amsterdam.  I've never tried the actual strain but Leafly describes it as a hybrid that leans more toward the calming end of the spectrum, but not as much as one might suspect.  Reviews describe it as an 'old school classic video game high' (whatever that means) & it's typically reserved for pain, sleep & evening use.  So I suppose that's why it was chosen to make RSO, as Sativas are far too speedy & paranoia-inducing to use in potent oils like this.

RSO applicator

Anyway, this batch turned out great.  The RSO applicator was easier to use than the previous brand, as the lid wasn't a screw-on type that gets stuck.  It just pops on and off which was much cleaner & less complicated.  Aside from that I'm not noticing a whole lot of difference in the effects between the two brands.  I'm definitely feeling chill & drowsy after using one of these suppositories but it's not uncommon for me to get sleepy mid-day like this either.  Plus I'm in a world of pain which tends to make me sleepy.  But there's no denying the potency of the RSO.  It's effective in the pain department when used this way so I can only imagine how killer it'd be if taken orally.  One syringe could last years with my tolerance if I was eating the stuff. 

I give Rancho Pura Verde OG Kush Rick Simpson Oil a 4.8 of 5 stars for quality & price.  It was only $40 for a 1 gram syringe, which isn't bad compared to some of the $60 ones I've seen.  And it gets the job done just the same.  If you're ever picking up mmj supplies in the Southwest, give it a go! 

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Tools For Surviving 2020 With Your Sanity Intact

So.  We're only 5 months into 2020 & already it feels like an eternity.  So far we've lost beloved (by most) sports veteran Kobe Bryant, narrowly escaped war with Iran, watched as Australia was ravaged by bushfires, endured the worst pandemic in a century & are now being descended upon by "murder hornets".  Now June is off to an explosive start with worldwide protests (and riots) against police brutality due to the George Floyd murder.  It's an election year to boot, which means endless political attack ads and general ugliness are sure to compound the already sour mood facing the country.

With all this doom & gloom, it's absolutely vital to make time for your mental health & stress management.  As a result of the worldwide lockdowns, people are turning to alcohol, junk food & other unhealthy vices to cope with the stress of losing their jobs & dealing with a terrifying new disease.  As a long-time drug user I've been taking my usual dose of mind-altering substances every day with no change:  A stimulant, opiate & weed.  Ahh, predictability.  I balance that with lots of therapy (via telemedicine) & meditation as well as other things like journaling, taking brisk walks & reading self-help type books (currently reading:  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson - I recommend it).  I'm not doing great but am hanging in there.

Unfortunately I've lost two friends/acquaintances during this pandemic, one of whom was a long-time drug addict & the other who struggled with eating disorders & mental health problems.  They didn't die of the disease but of its downstream effects...namely, stress.  Covid can kill in many ways even if you don't catch it yourself.  A man was shot & killed for enforcing face mask policy in a public place.  Domestic violence rates are up worldwideAn autistic teen committed suicide due to the sheer uncertainty caused by the pandemic.  These are all triggered by stress.  Stress thrives on things like following every news update or trending Covid topic on Twitter & arguing with your paranoid uncle Bruce about the origins of the disease.  Stop that.

Crazy times require increased sanity.

Quieting the Chaos

At some point you just have to turn off the speculation & white noise.  Yes, it's impossible to ignore the economic stress of losing your job or the frustration of being cooped up with annoying family as Spring Fever sets in, but you can choose to disengage with the constant flow of complaining & hand-wringing about these things by other people in real life & the media.  And you should.  Because it changes precisely nothing except your own mood & blood pressure.

Instead, focus on things you CAN change, even if it's just your own attitude & outlook.  Make a list of short- and long-term goals to knock out once things get back to normal.  Endeavor to make the most of your downtime because you may not get another opportunity to spend with your spouse, kids, pets or even by yourself again once work & life pick back up.  If you're an essential worker, this obviously doesn't apply to you but there are things you can & must do to protect your health (both mental & physical) right now.  Periodically take stock of your substance use & junk food intake as well as other potentially destructive habits during this time to avoid forming a lasting addiction when this is all over.

If the behavior of our divided nation is getting you down, remind yourself that extremists are a vocal minority and the news media seeks out sensational, ratings-worthy stories that will draw in viewers.  It's good to be informed but be careful where you get your information.  NO source is completely bias-free but Reuters, PBS, NPR & evidence-based resources like the CDC & NIH are generally reliable when seeking out Covid-related info.  Independent news sources like Democracy Now! are invaluable regardless of your political leanings & should be supported.  Personal blogs, Youtube & sites like Breitbart, NaturalNews & InfoWars?  Not so much unless you do so with the caveat that it's for entertainment purposes only.  In fact, here's a great list of "fake news" sites to avoid like the plague.  Set limits on your news consumption each day if you tend to watch or read a lot of Covid-related stories or news in general, as their goal is to create feelings of fear & polarization to keep ratings up & help advertisers sell things during commercial breaks.  This is not good for mental health at an already stressful time.

What are YOU doing to stay sane during this insane year?  What drugs are you taking (if any)--has your usage gone up or down?  I envy people brave enough to take psychedelics during this dark time.  Couldn't be me.  But no judgment here.  I respect your journey regardless of whether you smoke crack at lunch or stick to weed & beer once a year.  Sound off in the comments.  😇

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Edibles: Dixie Indica Gummies (Tropic Twist)

Tropic Twist Gummies 100 MG THC from Dixie Elixirs

I'm a creature of habit, so when the dispensary was out of my beloved Simple Cure Indica gummies I was left reeling for a replacement.  Did I want Simple Cure Sativas?  Simple Cure Indica chocolates?  Or another brand altogether?  Ultimately I went with the chocolates but my friend went out on a limb & tried the budtender-recommended Dixie Indica Tropic Twist gummies.  She said she used to drive all the way to Colorado just to get them, so my friend was sold.  Now I'm wishing I would've followed her lead after trying them myself.  Holy crap.

For starters, the price is right.  For just $24 you get 10 gummies (100mg THC per pack) instead of just 5 in the Simple Cure pack which is a bargain (50mg THC per pack), as the Simple Cure cost $15.  And the FLAVOR!  These are actually dangerous because they taste so good.  I could see myself eating way too many & getting too high because they taste nothing like weed.  At all.  They're a zesty pineapple flavor that rivals any Skittle or Sour Gummy Worm on the market.  They're gluten-free & very sour as far as cannabis edibles go, with a generous dusting of powder on the exterior.

The big round candies get the job done in the mind-altering department too, of course.  Half of a 10 mg gummy is all I need to feel stoned for an afternoon.  The extract is CO2 & ethanol-derived for the ultimate clean high.  They also have Citrus Blast & Sour Smash flavors as well as Sativa, Hybrid & "Synergy" (1:1 THC to CBD ratio) varieties.  Dope.

I have to give Dixie Tropic Twist Indica gummies a 4.9 of 5 stars for flavor, effectiveness & price.  As much as I love my old staple I'll probably be opting for these if they're in stock now.  The taste & price are too good to ignore.  I definitely see why Dixie is such a popular brand in Colorado.  The only downside I can see is being tempted to eat too many for your tolerance level.  If you're immune to THC's negative side effects, don't sweat it.  And it'd be cooler if each pack had assorted flavors in it.  But I'm not complaining because the taste is so good.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How I Stopped My Chronic Migraines

(Since my migraines are lessening in frequency, I figured I'd write down my experience with my most recent one for the sake of remembering what it was like & shedding light on the issue for those who aren't familiar with it.  The symptoms are so bizarre I want to document them for anyone else who might be going through it, and also discuss a bit of how I overcame chronic migraine.  If this interests you, read on).  

Background & Symptoms

My first migraine happened around age 30.  I'd just started a new birth control (Seasonique) & on Day 2 was sidelined with what I thought was a stroke:  light sensitivity, one-sided head pain & a dull throbbing sensation that lasted all day & night.  I quit the Seasonique but switched to a low-estrogen brand, which was much better for my mood but--I didn't know at the time--largely responsible for my continuing migraines.  They started as menstrual headaches that only occurred during my periods but eventually sprawled out to other times of the month until I had some degree of head pain 15+ days per month.  This went on for 6 years; I went on disability.  It was a bad time for the empire.

In all this time, I joined several migraine chat groups & read everything I could about the condition (currently reading:  this awesome book by famed neurologist & drug-enthusiast Oliver Sacks).  It took the full 5 years to grasp that the wide constellation of seemingly unrelated symptoms like frequent urination & gnawing stomach pain were part of the migraine cycle.  By the end I could tell when one was coming on a whole day before & had come to see migraine not as a headache but as a neurological storm affecting the whole body.  Yet some symptoms still seemed too weird to believe.

A PARTIAL list of symptoms

For instance, I've always been a somewhat depressed/moody person--definitely on the lethargic side--but in the day leading up to a migraine I become absolutely elated, often convincing myself I'm actually bipolar & this is my first manic episode.  (Bipolar disorder runs in my family so it's not an unfounded fear).  Without fail, these random bursts of energy & euphoria are followed by a crushing headache the following day & I'm reminded that it's all part of the cycle, not of bipolar disorder but of migraine.

No matter how many recreational substances I ingest, I cannot recreate these euphoric states unless a migraine prodrome is happening.  When I'm experiencing one of these euphorias, everything seems connected & like it has a deeper meaning or higher purpose...just like manic episodes are described.  I can't sleep no matter how many OTC sedatives I take & usually end up chewing my tongue to the point it's painful.  And then it comes crashing down in waves of head pain the next day & I remember that I'm not bipolar.  It's "just" a migraine.

Which brings me to the actual headache.  For me, it's a dull throbbing sensation on one side of the head that's aggravated by noise, bright lights & especially strong smells like cologne or room spray.  I never have nausea or vomiting, but my digestion slows down to a painful degree.  It feels like my stomach is not moving whatsoever & is almost paralyzed.  Cannabis makes this worse.  But the head pain is elusive & seems to radiate from the lower back of the head/neck to the sinuses and, sometimes, to my teeth.  When I had a severely decayed tooth that needed pulling, the only time I could feel the toothache was during a migraine.  Go figure.

Turning Down the Volume

Migraines are typically one-sided

After quitting hormonal birth control, the quality of my migraines changed gradually until they pretty much ground to a halt.  I liken this to "turning down the volume" on a radio, but with pain.  Instead of headaches, my cheeks would hurt so bad I couldn't sleep.  I'd still get the "manias" & stomach pain but the headache never came.  Eventually these prodrome symptoms eased up too.  Things that used to trigger me like cannabis, agmatine sulfate & the anticholinergic drug Bentyl I now take with abandon.  Even cold fronts & thunderstorms don't set me off!  I'm currently left with only the most minor symptoms:  frequent urination, occasional stomach stasis & sensitivity to smells.  I've had one real migraine headache in all of 2020.

I still consider myself a migraineur despite losing the head pain because it's a genetic neurological condition that never truly goes away.  It may have been triggered by the hormonal birth control in my case, but the tendency had to be there to begin with.  My sister & aunt also have debilitating migraines so it doesn't just magically come from nowhere.  But taking the birth control out of the equation has left me with SO much less pain--85% at least.  I know not everyone can just up & quit their contraceptives--I only took it for endometriosis pain (which is a whole other blog for another day); not pregnancy prevention.  But if your migraines started while taking hormonal birth control, you might look into other alternatives like non-hormonal IUD, tubal ligation or progestin-only pills.

Daysee:  Generic Seasonique I was taking when I had my 1st migraine.

Another welcome side effect of quitting the Pill:  my blood pressure has gone down & stayed down consistently.  Before, it was always in the 130-140/80-90 range; now the it is never above 130/80 (and often 120/80).  This has lead to near fainting episodes in the shower twice but it's well worth it if my risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney damage & other blood-pressure related problems is reduced.  There's a warning on the package insert that birth control pills may cause migraines but no doctor has ever mentioned it to me in all the years I've taken them...even when I complain to them about my migraines.  Not cool.  If I'd made the connection sooner I would've likely considered stopping.

While my endometriosis symptoms are much worse without the Pill, so far I'm happy with the decision to quit.  Lower blood pressure & total lack of migraines is well worth the trade-off for me.  I manage the pain with lots of codeine, kratom & cannabis (since I can no longer take NSAIDs due to chronic gastritis) along with a heating pad.  Prior to quitting birth control, I'd tried a number of things to manage my migraines:  Topamax, Fioricet, CBD, special "migraine" sunglasses & other things.  None of these were remotely as effective as quitting birth control.  Unfortunately.

Do you suffer from migraines & take hormonal birth control?  What are your triggers?  How old were you when you got your first migraine?  Drop a comment in the box below this article.  I'd be happy to answer your questions as well.

Note:  Nothing in this article is intended as medical advice.  Migraine is a complex condition with unique personal causes & triggers.  Talk to your doctor or neurologist before attempting any new treatment.  

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[Review] - Cannabis Flower: East Coast Sour Diesel

Thank Jah for medical marijuana being deemed 'essential' during these tough times, and also for these half-grams currently available at my local dispo.  I was able to snatch up a nice little sample pack of 3 different strains to review for y'all for a grand total of $13 (plus a few bucks tax).

After my last experiment with Golden Goat, I saved the rarest of the pile for last:  East Coast Sour Diesel.  This long-fabled strain is not the same as the more common "Sour Diesel" or "NYC Diesel", though it is related to the former.  ECSD only has 233 reviews on Leafly & isn't very widely available even on the legal market despite its popularity.  It's described as a "fast-acting attitude lifter" that's both potent & energizing, leaning heavily toward the Sativa end of the spectrum.  (I'm more of an Indica fan but couldn't pass this by).  The reviews online consistently list it as one of the greatest Sativas & use adjectives like 'heady,' 'uplifting' & 'stimulating' to describe its effects.

The strain itself is a variant of Sour Diesel that was created by East Coast breeders, while the (plain) Sour Diesel strain was born on the West Coast.  ECSD was big in the late '90s & early '00s but is now said to only be available in clone form.  Connoisseurs say the high is speedy, uber-creative & borderline psychedelic like a true Sativa yet nobody seems to know where to find any.  Hence I'm a bit skeptical that what I have is the real thing, but it DID come from a licensed medical dispensary so there's that.  The cone-shaped buds definitely look like what's described online so I suspect mine is the genuine article.

ECSD container

Upon opening the bottle, I'm hit with a citrus-y scent of moderate potency.  There's a pungent after-note but nothing too diesel-like.  The THC content is a whopping 21%, with CBD coming in at 1.30%.  I'm also pleased to see some terpene percentages on the container:  Linalool: 1%, Beta-caryophyllene: 0.70% & Myrcene: 0.50%.  If you follow my weed reviews, you'll know this is WAY too powerful for my wimpy tolerance so I pack a small amount a thin joint along with hemp flower to try it out.

Since this strain is a potent Sativa I don't plan on smoking much at all so as not to get too paranoid.  I ate half a Simple Cure 10mg gummy right before getting "invited" on my smoke-walk with a friend so I'm a bit nervous about getting too high, but luckily that doesn't happen.  I smoke the half-joint without issue & actually feel pretty dandy.  Lots of giggles & crystal clear vision.  I'm able to enjoy the windless, sunny day with a new vigor after hitting the ECSD.

East Coast Diesel flower

I already have a nice stash of NYC Diesel Auto that I grew myself, so it's interesting to see how other variants measure up.  I'd say ECSD is less anxiety-producing than NYC Diesel, or maybe my tolerance has just increased since I last smoked the other stuff.  The smell of the dried ECSD is definitely danker, though the NYCD was pretty smelly while growing on the vine.  If you're a fan of the Diesel family you shouldn't pass this one by if you run into it in the wild, if only because it's so rare.

I give East Coast Sour Diesel a 4.7 of 5 stars for effects & price.  I think it might be my favorite of all the Diesels I've tried so far:  crisp, energizing & uplifting in the mood department.  It's all head & no body high, making it great for depression, spasticity, ADHD, fatigue & appetite stimulation.  Skip it if you have weed-induced anxiety or paranoia or a low THC tolerance.

Update:  After further review, this strain became my least fave of the bunch.  Had to downgrade it to 4.7 from the original 4.9 stars as it's just too potent & citrusy for my taste.  Causes that paranoid/drowsy effect I don't like.  Still glad I got to try such a rare strain & recommend it to anyone who's a fan of gassy Sativas.  

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Golden Goat

For my 2nd piece in this trilogy I'll be reviewing Golden Goat, one of the most popular strains in the mmj business around these parts.  Not many weed products can claim Topeka, Kansas as their motherland, but that's where Golden Goat was born when a Hawaiian-Romulan male accidentally pollinated an Island Sweet Skunk.  With only 1,257 reviews on Leafly, Golden Goat is less common than some strains yet the name is well-known.  It's a hybrid that leans strongly toward the energizing end of the spectrum with primarily fruity terpenes.

My cut contains 19.6% THC & has no official terpene count on the container.  Perhaps that's why it only cost $3 per half-gram?  No matter.  The smell is musky like a man's cologne and more toward the citrus end of the spectrum, though definitely not lemony or lime.  It's more of a sweet orange scent if I had to pin it down.  Its effects are described as a rush of creative euphoria.  One reviewer on Leafly even compared it to MDMA which I find it hard to believe, but we shall see.

Golden Goat flower (1/2 gram)

As with the Blue Dream, I'll be mixing this one with hemp buds to test it out.  This time in a pinner joint.  It's an overcast day & I'm headed outside to smoke in an empty pasture by my house with the dog.  I put a lot of The Goat in the joint this time so I'll probably only take a few hits.

That prediction was correct.

After only about 4 tokes, I'm feeling sufficiently stoned so I put it out on my shoe & keep walking.  The taste is nothing to write home about but that could be due to the joint being mixed with hemp buds.  The high feels mostly euphoric but with a strange dash of mental confusion thrown in.  I can't find words or think of things as quickly as I'd like which is bringing the experience down a tad.  The effects are hitting right behind the eyes, making them feel squinty but not overly dry.  It's definitely not on par with MDMA like the Leafly reviewer claimed (duh), but I can kinda see where they're coming from.  This is definitely happy weed, but not "clever" weed like some Sativas that help with focus.  Great for a festive Summer day at the lake or a backyard BBQ with friends--not so much for acing an exam.   

Blue Dream (left); Golden Goat on the right.

The comedown is pretty unremarkable; no fatigue or drowsiness like with the Blue Dream.  In conclusion, I give Golden Goat a 4.9 of 5 stars for effects & price.  It gets the job done in the intoxication department & the price is definitely right, but the smell & bag appeal are nothing to write home about.  I can see why it was priced lower than the other two strains I picked up.  Still, I'd gladly stock up on a higher grade cut of Golden Goat because it fulfills my desires for an uplifting, mood-boosting strain.  (I have depression that's only helped about 10% by my antidepressants).

I recommend this strain to anyone looking for a giggly, euphoric Sativa-dominant weed.  As stated before, Sativas aren't really my thing & tend to have the opposite effect on me, making me lethargic rather than energized.  But Golden Goat is a nice compromise in the stimulation/sedation department.  Not overly rich in lemon terps which are usually my least favorite.

Update:  After finishing the whole half-gram, I changed the rating from 4.7 to 4.9.  This strain became my favorite of the 3 I picked up on this dispensary run.  For whatever reason it just wasn't hitting me right the first time but it's definitely the most enjoyable overall.  There is an element of empathogenic effect to it so I'll be picking up more if they have it next time.  Golden Goat is the G.O.A.T.!  

Friday, May 1, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Blue Dream

I hit up my local mmj dispensary to take advantage of their half-gram coronavirus deals.  I'm not a fan of smoking flower but they had some interesting strains I've wanted to try so I figured what the heck.  I picked up 3 half-grams, the first of which I'll review here.

Blue Dream is an absolute staple in the cannabis world, yet I've never gotten around to trying it 'til now.  With a whopping 13,274 reviews on Leafly, this strain is renowned for its perfect balance of "gentle cerebral invigoration" and full-body relaxation.  It's the offspring of a Haze & Blueberry parent that leans more toward the energizing end of the spectrum for a hybrid & was popularized by legendary breeder DJ Short.  Let's review.

Blue Dream 1/2 gram

My cut is rich in THC (22.82%) and a flavorful mix of terpenes, with Myrcene topping the list at 4.54% followed by Limonene (1.07%) & Pinene (0.21%).  While CBD content isn't listed on the label, Blue Dream is said to hover around 2% CBD & 1% CBN, making it a powerful medicine for many ailments.  I got a half-gram for $6 plus tax, which is pretty high but I was glad to be able to grab a half-gram sampler in these trying times since I'm not a big flower smoker.  I'll be mixing this with hemp buds to lessen the potency since THC overwhelms me easily.  I'm smoking a blueberry-flavored pinner joint to get the full blueberry experience. 

The smell of Blue Dream is herbal first & foremost followed by soft floral notes.  While it doesn't smell like lavender, it is reminiscent of that type of scent if that makes sense.  I tend to prefer strains like this to citrus or pine-rich ones for some reason.  Before lighting up, I take a short walk around the side of my house where I won't be seen.  The joint hits smoothly & stays lit even in fierce wind unlike the last strain I bought from this dispensary.  A few puffs in and I'm already feeling intoxicated but in a pleasant way.  I end up snuffing the joint out with a big roach remaining, after which the electric effects of the high really start to take hold.

Blue Dream container

My body feels floaty & light like a cloud while my mind is gently stimulated.  It's the perfect mix of indica/sativa effects for my needs.  Music sounds extra crisp & I can't stop cleaning my room.  When I finally sit down to type this review, I'm comforted by a warm euphoric feeling that's just right--no racing mind or heart like with most strains.  The image of a puffy cloud in a blue sky keeps coming to mind... I really have nothing better than that to describe how it feels, sorry.  Would be ideal for meditating.  I did get super tired on the comedown--almost enough to take a nap.  I had to actively focus to stay awake which I didn't like, but this makes it a good evening strain & could probably be offset by smoking more. 

Overall I'm giving this Blue Dream a 4.8 of 5 stars for effects, appearance & texture.  It broke up easily, burned evenly & just generally hit all the right spots for this blustery day.  I was having a small migraine when I smoked (& I knew smoking would make it worse) but the fun effects are honestly worth the head pain at the moment.  Yep, it's that good. 

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