Monthly Archives: June 2014

Life Lesson #2 – be okay with imperfections

When flitting around the interwebs, I notice many Autoimmuners talk about being robbed of a good life and how stunningly useless they feel.  These feelings never go away, but one thing that helps control them is learning to accept imperfections in everything.  One almost has to change their entire way of thinking to view those imperfections as beautiful.  I have really been thinking about this concept lately, and how it really has made my life much better since its implementation.  Think about it!  If everyone was perfect, they would all be boring.  It is those quirks and oddities that make us who we are.  So why not apply this to our illnesses and life to take the stress out?

Living with any chronic illness immediately places limitations on what we can do.  As humans, we puff up and challenge this until we realize these circumstances are beyond our control.  There are going to be things that just happen for no reason that nothing can fix – regardless of how many servings of green leafies, or vitamins, or exercise you indulge in.  While those things can help, they do not cure.  In my experience, the sooner one accepts these, the sooner they can begin to learn how to actually LIVE.  Limitations are a form of imperfection.  One specific thing about limitations here – be sure the ones you have are not ones you are placing on yourself.  Yeah, you know exactly what I am talking about.    So be OKAY with taking longer, embrace it.   Be OKAY with seeing it from the road – because at least you have seen it!  Be OKAY with the smaller things and learn to love those little things that most people overlook.  Hmmmmm.  Kind of like the Autoimmuner community gets overlooked.   When my hands really became deformed and I couldn’t hold the brush still enough to paint, I got very sad for a couple of weeks.  Then I outlined the flowers I had painted in black with haphazard strokes, and actually liked it.  Now, it is a new painting style that doesn’t depend on my dexterity!  Without that experience, I would have spent my time focusing on trying to get the details as perfect as possible!  Now, I don’t sweat it.

People are also a significant source of stress for Autoimmuners.  From the family that has no clue to the judgemental medical community, we tend to have the most difficulty getting people to take us seriously.  I know it will be hard, but try to see their imperfections as beautiful.  Understand the culture that we have grown up in, and how it has influenced these people’s attitudes towards the disabled in general.  If you are in a scooter, it is because you are fat (couldn’t have lupus or be on steroids, right??!!)  If you dramatize the pain, you would be just fine (nevermind that bones are being digested.)   Besides, this is just arthritis and no one has ever died from that right?  Okay – so you see all these ideas floating around.  No wonder people are stupid about this.  Admit it or not, there are things we are absolutely ignorant about too.  We learn through experience.  Educate.  Learn to get excited so you can share your experience.  That person may well be a jackass, but at least the idea is there.  Also know that it is absolutely impossible for a healthy person to relate, so just educate the best you can.  People can only relate to the worst pain they have ever been in, so most people think we are talking about a stubbed toe or broken bone sensation.  All other jackass encounters, blame on “that is just how they are” and move on.  The biggest area this can be applied to is partnership though.  If your partner doesn’t throw their socks in the hamper, be OKAY with that.   If the dishes aren’t always clean – THIS IS PERFECTLY FINE!   Don’t complain about things that aren’t worth losing a marriage or partner over.  If you want someone to be forgiving of your imperfections, be forgiving of theirs!

Applying these concepts has really helped me to cope with any snags AA decides to throw my way.  Some are more difficult than others, but I find without this technique, I’d go nuts.  At this point in my life, I don’t have the energy to focus into worrying, or feeling bad.  It is what it is and I cannot change this disease, but I can make it difficult for it to bring me down mentally.  This life lesson is truly an important one, and can take a long time to learn.  If you are the type that learns from other’s mistakes – than learn to embrace the world’s imperfections as beauty!

Topical Muscle Rub – my canna-bliss!

This is *MY* Canna-bliss!
This is *MY* Canna-bliss!

Medical cannabis is exponentially more than smoking a joint!  A treatment that is rising in popularity is topically.  Unfortunately, I find many premade topicals are way out of my budget, sometimes costing almost $30 for a 16 oz. bottle.  Considering how much pain my knees, hips, and thighs are in – that won’t last long.  Out of necessity, I learned to make my own.  Use all organic materials if possible.   **Note that these do melt in high temperatures, do don’t leave in your hot car or near electronics unless they have muscle rub insurance.**

Ingredients

  • 1-2 oz. cannabis tincture
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup kokum butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa butter
  • 2 tsp. beeswax
  • a 2.5 oz. tube of arnica cream
  • Essential oils:  clove, peppermint, wintergreen, camphor,  eucalyptus, spearmint, tea tree.  I proportion exactly like this and my mixture smells like cloves.  While it isn’t the greatest smell, it works.  I usually use 1/2 tsp. clove oil, then use less and less of each remaining ingredient.

In a double boiler on low heat, melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and kokum butter.  Add the essential oils to your preference and use an electric mixer on medium for 5 minutes minimum to blend the mixture. Once the mixture cools enough to be workable but not enough to be hard, use the electric mixer to blend in the arnica cream.    I usually keep this on my night stand, but am putting some in solid deodorant containers for traveling.

I order a lot of my products for making this at Mountain Rose Herbs, which is an affiliate link.

**The proportions above are my cream!  If you find one ingredient doesn’t work for you, add a different one or omit.  This is the beauty of making it yourself.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Jack Herer – Strain Review

Jack Herer is a daytime sativa for mild symptoms!
Jack Herer is a daytime sativa for mild symptoms!

Type: Jack Herer (rhymes with “terror”), sativa

Uses: headaches, mild nausea, fatigue, mild pain

Medicine Replaced:  OTC Aspirin

Smell:  There are no words in my vocabulary that can help me describe how this smells, but here goes.  The closest smell would be hay mixed with a hint of lemons, but there is something else I just cannot place.

Commentary:  Jack Herer is a nice, low-key sativa that can be used for daytime use.  There is not any fatigue for me, and this is something that I use for mild symptoms and headaches mostly.  However, I am doing this review on the birthday of the Hemperor, so here is a smidge about the man.  Please Google him if you ever get the chance.

    • Jack Herer wrote a book called “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” which discusses many of the uses for the cannabis plant.
    • He felt that the versatility of cannabis could save many of the problems in the world, and thus cannabis could save the world.
    • Jack focused on hemp, the nonpsychoactive cannabis, and the fact it can make paper (save environment), be a biofuel (Henry Ford’s first engine was a hemp based one), a better plastic (Henry’s car also was made from hemp plastics), an oil (replaces many petroleum-based products), fabric, and the seeds are a near complete food for humans (Agafia Lykov survived a Siberian Winter solely on hemp seeds.)
    • He brought to light many of the corrupted thought processes surrounding prohibition of cannabis, and the scientific studies refuting many of those.

 

High CBD Strains, All the Rage! (But are they really?)

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been getting a lot of press lately.  Dispensaries are rushing to add high CBD strains and oils to their storefronts, and Charlotte’s Web has become the poster child for medical cannabis legislation.  So what are CBD’s, and should we all go fill a swimming pool with them and jump in?

Everyone knows about THC, the chemical that makes you high, but the second most abundant cannabinoid is CBD.  This is what most cannabis has been bred to produce over the last 40ish years, at the expense of the other cannabinoids in marijuana.  We may never know the original make up of the cannabis plant, but many of the other cannabinoids were found at higher levels.  CBD is one of those cannabinoids.

To date, scientists have discovered 2 receptors in our natural endocannabinoid system.  Those receptors are CB1 and CB2.  THC tends to bind to the CB1 receptor, but CBD can interact with both receptors.   That little CB2 receptor is most abundant in the immune system and nervous system.  (Because this blog is autoimmune arthritis based, I won’t go over the other benefits CBD has – but know there are many.)  Our immune systems need cannabinoids to function properly, and to help regulate its homeostasis.  So, for non geeks, that means CBD’s help keep our bodies as normal as possible!  Part of the government patent on cannabinoids includes anti-inflammatory potentials already shown by CBD’s!  So, there is definitely scientifically proven potential in CBD based immune system therapy.

But don’t forget about THC and the other cannabinoids!

While all this is super exciting, keep in mind there are over 60 known cannabinoids according to most scientists.  (I have heard several numbers thrown around actually, but this is the most common one.)  CBD is made to work together with those other chemicals to achieve that regulatory effect.  You may need THC and other cannabinoids like CBN and CBC.  If we learned anything from Marinol, it is that you cannot isolate each chemical and expect the same effects as whole plant medicine.  The discoverer of THC, Dr. Mechoulam, calls this the entourage effect.  CBD may do great things, but it may need its friends to help make that happen!

Since CBD strains have become the hot buzz, growers are working to develop strains with different levels of cannabinoids.  This provides us with lots of options like: high CBD/low THC, equal ratios of both, high/low ratios of both, and so forth.  Critical Mass x White Widow is a High CBD/High THC strain that can be used for stronger symptoms, while Harlequin is a Low THC/High CBD strain that is more for minor aches and pains.  Be willing to experiment.  Just like any of the meds we take, it is a crap shoot trying to find the magic combo.  You still have that with cannabis!

So while I am really excited about all this new research about CBDs, and CBD laws – know those other cannabinoids may be just as amazing and help each other be amazing!  So break out that pool, but be sure to add those other cannabinoids.  (Don’t really break out the pool – that would be such a waste!)

Critical Mass x White Widow (high CBD) – Strain Review

High CBD Critical Mass x White Widow gives night time pain an extra kick in the arse.
High CBD Critical Mass x White Widow gives night-time pain an extra kick in the arse.

Type:  Critical Mass x White Widow (High CBD strain)

Uses:  moderate to severe pain, nausea, inflammation, cramps, muscle spasms, spasticity, insomnia.

Medicine Replaced:  oxycodone, NSAIDS, zoldipam, anti-nausea

Smell:  This one smells a wee bit more spicy and piney.  There are some citrus undertones to CM x WW as well!

Commentary:  Critical Mass x White Widow packs a strong punch.  It is both high CBD and high THC, so don’t use this if you need to get things done.  I would not recommend this for headaches, because it does cause a pressure behind the eyes.   For muscle relaxation, this strain is excellent.  I find the body just wants to melt and the pain gets dulled significantly.  I don’t use this one unless I am having moderate pains or stronger because of the couch lock symptoms.  But if you feel like poo and have nothing to do but watch a season of Dr. Who – Critical Mass x White Widow is your best friend.   She has helped me to sleep on many occasions.

Cannabudda Yo!

Sometimes one needs a different kind of pain relief than the 3-4 hour breakthrough inhaling method.  For these deeper pains, there are edibles.  My experience has shown me that edibles aren’t necessarily the most cost effective way to medicate so here is how to make your own cannabutter to add to recipes!

 

Roughly .75oz. vaporized cannabis and .75 c. fresh organic butter.
Roughly .75oz. vaporized cannabis and 3 sticks fresh organic butter.

1.  Gather your cannabis and guesstimate how much you have.  You can use vaporized, dried, or fresh (or a combination).  For every ounce of cannabis, use 4 sticks of butter.   I am using vapor poo and all my stems.

Boiling my water and butter
Boiling my water and butter

2. For every 2 sticks of butter you are using, use 1 cup of water.  I used 3 sticks of butter so used about 2 cups of water.  Bring your water to a boil.  Once it has a nice rolling boil, add your butter and continue boiling until butter is completely melted.

This is what your butter/water mixture should look like.
This is what your butter/water mixture should look like.
Cannabis floats, so give it good stir.
Adding the vapor poo.

3.  Add your cannabis and give it a good stir!  You want to be sure all the cannabis gets soaked in your butter mixture.

4. Turn the temperature down to low.  You want the cannabis to basically steep, so don’t let the mixture get bubbly else you will evaporate the cannabinoids!

 

 

Always be sure your cannabis is 2 inches above the bottom of the pan!
Always be sure your cannabis is 2 inches above the bottom of the pan!

5. Simmer the cannabutter for 3 hours.  Be mindful to not let the mixture get too hot, or let too much water evaporate.  It is okay to add as much water as you want.

 

 

 

 

Use a fine mesh wire sieve to drain the solids if desired.
Use a fine mesh wire sieve to drain the solids if desired.

 

 

 

6.  Use a fine mesh metal sieve to drain the solids from your butter mixture.  Be sure to use a spatula and press the cannabis to squeeze all the butter out.  If using fresh/dried cannabis, you may opt to leave the solids in!

 

The strained cannabutter mixture.  Notice the butter separating!
The strained cannabutter mixture. Notice the butter separating!

 

7. Place the strained mixture into your refrigerator or freezer as soon as it is cool enough, and leave it until the butter is set on top.

 

 

 

 

What it looks like after it is frozen.
What it looks like after it is frozen.

 

 

8.  After a couple of hours when the butter is completely solid, remove it from the freezer/fridge.  Use a knife and gently go around the edges of the container until it comes loose.  Watch the water underneath as it splashes and is like nasty bong water.

 

 

 

Finished!
Finished!
Be sure to wash any leftover water off the butter and pat dry!
Be sure to wash any leftover water off the butter and pat dry!

9.  Rinse any remaining water/goo off the butter and pat dry with a paper towel.  You want to get it dry to prevent bacteria growth.  Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator and use as necessary within 3 weeks!

Cannabutter and whole grain toast
Cannabutter and whole grain toast
Blueberry Pancakes and cannabutter
Blueberry Pancakes and cannabutter

Blowphish – Strain Review

 

Blowfish is a nice hybrid for daytime mild to moderate symptoms
Blowphish is a nice hybrid for daytime mild to moderate symptoms

Type: Blowphish, hybrid

Uses: moderate pain, nausea, muscle spasms

Medicine Replaced: hydrocodone, prescription NSAIDS, Zofran

Smell:  Blowphish has a very light citrus/pine smell.

Commentary:  Blowphish is good for the day if you are having moderate symptoms.  It is a little heavier, so don’t use it for mild symptoms unless you are hanging at home.  This hybrid isn’t one I would use for insomnia either.  Earlier, I used Blowfish for my knee pain and lower back pain.

Outer Space – Strain Review

Outer Space is the best "happy" strain I have found so far!
Outer Space is the best “happy” strain I have found so far!

Type:  Outer Space, sativa

Uses: depression, anxiety, nausea

Medicine Replaced: antidepressants, zofran

Smell: This Island Sweet Skunk x Trinity cross smells very similar to Jack Herer.  The fresh-cut lawn with citrus back tones goes well with any time you want to be happy.  (See?  Getting more creative with this “smell” crap!)

Commentary:  Outer Space is a happy daytime strain.  This is excellent for any time of mental anguish you may be suffering from, or just when you want to relax.  If you have social anxieties, a little Outer Space will make you everyone’s best friend.  The only other symptom I would recommend this for is nausea.  There is little fatigue on this, so it is fantastic for daytime use.