Category Archives: Medical Information

Blue God – Strain Review

 

Blue God is a heavy indica that packs a punch!
Blue God is a heavy indica that packs a punch!

Type:  Blue God, indica

Uses: insomnia, severe pain, severe nausea, muscle spasms

Medicine Replaced: zoldipam, oxymorphone, ondansetron

Smell:  This strain smells like freshly mashed blueberries mixed with juniper berries.

Commentary:  Blue God tended to make  me more of a zombie, so it was a great night-time med, or something you want to do before watching a long movie.   This strain is reserved for super bad days, where I don’t have to function at all.  Unfortunately, it does make me very mindless, but so did several opiates!

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!)

Reflections of a newly weaned Autoimmuner

One year ago next week, I made a 21 day journey from Atlanta, GA to Colorado Springs, CO. and back.  My family had the opportunity to move and we had to jump.  During that time, I found an awesome house that would prove to be a phenomenal choice, hung out with my West Coast Mum (yes I have 2 awesome Mums on both US coasts), and lost 15lbs.  We moved because my lupus was flaring and getting worse, and the quickest solution would be to flee the humidity.  We were medical refugees in a sense, but not for cannabis – for weather.  During the 21 days I was here last May/June, my RA symptoms disappeared mostly.  In almost 30 years of diagnosis, that has only happened when I was in the Mediterranean.

Coming here, my medicine consisted of Actemra 360mg (biologic), Arava 20mg/daily (YAY CHEMO – insert rolling eyes here), 60mg Opana daily (oxymorphone), 30mg oxycodone daily, 4 Immunoguard daily (natural supplement, saved my lungs), 24mg Zofran daily (nausea),  1200mg gabapentin daily (nerve issues), lisinopril 20mg daily (BP), and 50mg Coreg daily (tachycardia).  My sleep pattern was anywhere between 90 minutes and 3 hours of sleep every 3-4 days.  I was literally a zombie.  There were times I didn’t sleep for 7 days straight, and that was a regular occurrence.  My lupus had started to show its ugly face 4 years prior and my lungs, heart, and kidneys were really damaged.  We were hoping for a miracle as far as my health went.  In addition to the stress of traveling, living in a hotel, and preparing to move, we had many other major stressors.  When I returned from the last of the major trips in January, 2 last key body traumas hit.  The boys were sick, and NO pharmacy had my Opana.  Opana is oxymorphone and when abruptly stopped can cause seizures, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest.  Not good news for a Lupie with uncontrolled lupus.  I ended up running out waiting for a refill, and turned to the newly legal cannabis.  So this all started by accident!

Sadly, I can say that my views on cannabis were still strongly shaped from my experiences with the illegal market and propaganda.  That night, the cannabis actually didn’t help the withdrawal, and it was a very long night.  I was able to get my medicine two days later, so the cannabis went on the shelf.  I did try it both nights though, and the second night (I found a hydrocodone we had so no severe withdrawal) I slept like the dead.  I had not slept that good in YEARS.  YEARS!   But, I was worried about my teens, being perceived as a pothead, and all sorts of crazy things.  Cannabis is an illegal drug, and people go to jail for that!  So like I said, the pot went back on the shelf for another month.

February brought the same issue with the Opana, only this time it wasn’t being shipped to the pharmacies.  I had to drive 60 miles, only to find half my prescription.  That was the last straw.  I was so sick of having to constantly call my doctor and ask for alternatives because I could never find this stupid medicine!  So I started to read.  Bare minimum, the cannabis helped with the insomnia, so I talked with my husband.   Then I talked to the kids.  Medical use is something that really can’t be hidden, so I opted for a more open approach.  By then, I had read 3 books on medical cannabis and done my homework.  For me, this was an opportunity to educate as well.  Last thing we need is more kids growing up with the blatant false propaganda!  Teaching moment!

The process began.  I was so skeptical.  The cannabis I bought at a rec store actually made my bone pain worse, but there was one strain that worked OKAY.  Just okay.  Went to the same dispensary (rec dispensaries have different stock/rules than medical) and got more of a mixed strain and still not great results.  But I was sleeping.  That made such a huge difference in itself!  Finally, I made my way to the rec store (60 miles from my house) where I found Alien OG and Cannatonic.  That was the turning point and around the time I started my Facebook page.   These first 6-8 weeks were very iffy.  I had a hard time adjusting to the concept of medicating with marijuana (only gets you high right?) and had to find my groove whilst in flare and withdrawal.  Balancing that sucked honestly, and I did almost give up a couple of times.  But once those 2 came in, the game changed for me.

Alien OG was the perfect sleep aid.  Yes it was strong, but Ambien makes people sleep function.  Yeah, I think I will deal with stone.  (insert smirk) I slept like the dead and woke up completely refreshed for the first time.  This strain not only cured the insomnia, but didn’t give me a morning hangover!  This is the point in the story where the clouds part, the rays of sun single out the Alien OG, and there is a heavenly chorus.  Fantastic!  Now for the Cannatonic!  With kidney issues, I can’t take NSAIDS anymore.  Well, Cannatonic is a 1:1 THC/CBD strain used as an anti-inflammatory!  YAY!  Vaporized it and waited.  Mild buzz for 10 minutes, then went about my day.  I had found some base strains that actually made me feel better!  Not stoned, not filled with munchies, but my pain dulled!    This is definitely not your hippie’s cannabis!  This is when my experiment began in earnest, and I had hope it would work.  I got my medical license and things completely changed!

This story began in January with some serious pain, flare, stress, and fear.  It is May now.  Today is day #3 COMPLETELY WEANED OFF ALL OPIATES.  Let me say this again, just incase you didn’t catch that – I AM COMPLETELY OPIATE FREE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 5 YEARS!  No withdrawal anymore, no excess pain, and I am sleeping.  Looking back, this was a very difficult adjustment.  There were times the withdrawal was bad and I had to increase my opiate use occasionally.  There were times I felt this was never going to work and I had too much damage to ever be off opiates.  There were times I had to reconcile that I was sitting in my space, vaporizing marijuana while I have 2 teenagers in the house.  All of those things had to be dealt with while finding my “right” combo of cannabis vs. pharma.

Flip side – even if it takes you a year, this is worth it.  Let’s be real here.  As Autoimmuners, we know there is a terminal side to these diseases.  We know that eventually we will need these medicines, and they do have a valuable place in this world.  No one should ever be treated like an outcast because they need opiates.  I could not imagine having to deal with some of this disease without them.  This whole weaning issue would not be possible had I not moved.  BUT, if you can manage it and live in a medical cannabis state, it is worth a try.  I don’t know if this will work for you.  It is medicine and needs to be treated as such in every way.  It won’t be for everyone.  My new medicine regimen is: Actemra 720mg (raised last June when I moved), 200mg tramadol ER daily, 50mg Coreg daily.  Yep I just ended that sentence!  I have replaced my opiates, chemo (will go back on during my bad season), nausea meds, nerve meds, and sleeping aids.  In addition, my BP has improved and I have started to lose weight now that the opiates aren’t causing me to retain water and gumming up the system.  My kids also report that I am perkier and more relaxed!  UM, FANTASTIC SIDE EFFECT OF CANNABIS! ***new update.  I am on less Actemra now because I am losing weight, and my BP stabilized.  As of August 2014, I am only on Actemra and an occasional tramadol er 100mg.***

I am really hoping that moving to something natural will help my body preserve some of this life.  I truly want to be there for my granddaughter (5 months old!) when she has kids.  I know eventually I will need these meds again, but that time is not now.  Let’s hope the future holds a cure.  Autoimmune arthritis may kill, but I am its worst nightmare!

 

Cherry Slider x Grape God Caviar – Caviar Review

This is "caviar", which is infused with hash oil and rolled in keef!
This is “caviar”, which is infused with hash oil and rolled in keef!

Type: Cherry Slider x Grape God, caviar

Uses: insomnia, severe pain, severe nausea, severe spasms

Medicine Replaced:  sleep aids, zofran, oxymorphone

Smell:  This has a strong smell of hash oil, but absolutely smelled like cherry!

Commentary:  Save this for your most severe symptoms.  You will be stoned after!  This is the next step when even the stronger strains aren’t working.  I did use this for some nights when I was seriously awake and needed to sleep.  I have not used this during the day because it is very strong!  Know that caviar vaporizes at a lower temperature, so adjust your temps if you are vaporizing!

 

Colorado Crippler – Strain Review

I don’t have a photo, which means I need to get more! 😉

Type:  Colorado Crippler

Uses:  Insomnia, muscle spasms, nerve issues, moderate pain

Medicine Replaced: zofran, gabapentin, prescription NSAIDS

Smell:  This has a very spicy smell to it, but has some pine undertones.  This one smells like Alien OG a little.

Commentary:  Colorado Crippler is a fantastic strain for any moderate to severe symptoms.  I would use this mostly for withdrawal symptoms when my arms would start burning.  It would relax the body and restore the nerve functioning rather quickly.  It didn’t work for my most severe symptoms, but this is great when you have something that needs more than a light strain!

Med-iquette: How to be a responsible patient

Lately, at least in Colorado, there has been a lot of press about medicating responsibly.    Unfortunately, the stereotype of someone who uses any marijuana is that of a hippie like teenager out for a thrill.  Even medical marijuana is subject to this incorrect image.  To help change these stereotypes, and promote a more accurate image, here are some tips on how to medicate responsibly.

  • Keep ALL medication locked away from children.  Aside from accidental ingestion issues in small children, know that teens pose just as serious a threat.  Many teenagers steal their parent’s medications to take or sell.  They will do this with your marijuana as well.  While there has never been a death attributed to a marijuana overdose, treat it like your children can die from it.  Invest in a lock box or keep it in a locked room.
  • Don’t medicate in public unless you are using topicals or edibles.  No one else should be exposed to your medication.  Some people do have adverse reactions to airborne pathogens, including smoke/vapor.  Be mindful that we may not be the only sick people out there!
  • Follow state law.  Clearly if you are using any marijuana, you are not following Federal law.  However, follow state law when possible.  *Not encouraging illegal activity, but please protect yourself and your family if you aren’t in a medical state – hence the “if possible”.
  • If you know you have used a wee bit too much, hang out in your room or on the couch!  If you have children, make that time a quiet time (and if you are medicating there is a chance you need that quiet time!)
  • Educate your family.  This legal situation is not going to change if our children grow up with the same propaganda.  Discuss the FACTS about medical marijuana with your family using age appropriate conversation.  While minors should not use marijuana, it is NOT the toxic cesspool that the government says it is.  Most of the issues with marijuana stem from its legal status – not the drug itself.
  • Don’t use more than necessary to treat your illness.  Everyone’s pain, chemistry, and needs are different.   If you don’t need 5 vapor draws to help your nausea, don’t take it.  One of the benefits of inhaled marijuana is that you can titrate the dose – or only take what you need!   For example, today I didn’t need medicine until around 2pm, but yesterday my nausea was so bad – I needed a small dose every 4 hours.

Apothecanna Pain Spray – Review

Apothecanna Pain Spray on the right is one of the few topicals that has worked for me - and I have had prescription topicals!
Apothecanna Pain Spray on the right is one of the few topicals that has worked for me – and I have had prescription topicals!

Apothecanna Pain Spray  –  absolutely amazing.  These are the best words to describe the relief I get from this topical.  I specifically used this for knee pain with excellent results!  The spray has a strong smell of cloves, and provides a warm numbing effect from deep within the tissue.  Because of the permanent nerve damage from my botched partial knee replacement/ACL repair, I felt the spray work from the inside out.

Positives:  This spray does not contain capsaicin, which is fantastic for me.  I have a difficult time with swelling from capsaicin, so really have not explored many topicals.  This one however, worked better than a prescription cream that had muscle relaxers, narcotics, and lidocaine.

Negatives:  Apothecanna pain spray is actually expensive.  For 2 oz. I paid $16 and used it in 2 weeks.  It also has a strong scent, so if cloves don’t smell good to you this is not your product!  I actually am okay with the clove smell and have used cloves in the muscle creams I make.

Yoda Kush – Strain Review

Yoda Kush is a like a Motrin!  (I know you can see the dispensary name!  It is okay!)
Yoda Kush is a like a Motrin! (I know you can see the dispensary name! It is okay!)

Type:  Yoda Kush, indica (notice a trend?!)

Uses:  nausea, minor to moderate pain, nerve pain, minor spasms

Medicine Replaced:  OTC (over the counter) NSAIDS, TUMS

Smell:  like smashed grass with a few pine needles mixed in

Commentary:  Yoda Kush is an indica dominant medicine that can be used in the daytime or added to a night-time strain to help boost pain fighting power.  It would be like adding ibuprofen to oxycodone to boost its effect.

Agent Orange – Strain Review

 Agent Orange is a sativa great for depression and anxiety.  Agent Orange is a sativa great for depression and anxiety.

Type:  Agent Orange, sativa dominant

Uses:  euphoria, focus, energy, head aches, depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, nausea, nerve pain

Medicine Replaced:  xanax,  prozac, promethazine, NSAIDS to OTC naproxen, TUMS

Smell:   potting soil and smashed citrus peels (Clearly I don’t have a creative schnoz.)

Commentary:  I actually just medicated with this particular strain because it had been so long since I used this one.  After 5 draws of the vaporizer, I could feel my mind racing already.  This is an energy, euphoria strain that would mostly replace depression/anxiety medications or ADD/ADHD medications.  ***NEVER STOP A MEDICATION YOURSELF.  WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR ON YOUR MMJ JOURNEY***   I am a slight bit more hypersensitive of bone on bone pain with this strain of sativa.  (See why I have not used it in a while?)  Not many people get that hypersensitivity, and could just be my reaction.  I know some people who use Agent Orange as their #1 for nerve issues and OCD anxiety.

Wifi x Emperor Kush – Strain Review

This strain is the second from the top.  Unfortunately, I don't have a great photo, since it was the first sativa I tried.
This strain is the second from the top. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great photo, since it was the first sativa I tried.

Type:  Wifi x Emperor Kush, sativa dominant

Uses: head aches, mild to moderate pain, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, nerve pain, neuropathy, depression

Medicine Replaced:  zofran, prilosec, prozac, NSAIDS to Celebrex

Smell:  Like a tomato plant and a pine tree fell in love.

Commentary:  This was one of the first sativas I tried for day time pain relief.  At first, I felt the bone on bone more, but that went away after the 2nd use.  Ultimately, I combined this with Harlequin to provide the effect of Celebrex.  Wifi x Emperor Kush did not make me drowsy and left me clear-headed and functional after about 25 minutes.   This is a particularly rare strain, so you may not come across it a lot or at all.  I have only laid eyes on these genetics once in 2 months.