Hey! Can I try that? The nose knows when it comes to medical cannabis

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

The other day I posted in my medical cannabis group about exhaling smoke through the nose. I said I noticed that I got much higher that way. Or shall I say, I got a much better dose of the medicine I legally administer.

And that’s what it’s all about – feeling better.

One commenter quickly noted that it makes sense that you would feel some of the therapeutic effects more quickly that way. That’s because the nose contains mucous membranes that quickly absorb smoke, and the smoke contains the terpenes from the plant.

Pretty soon everyone was trying it, LOL, and posting the results online. Everyone agreed…it takes you higher. However, it also burns your nose a bit depending on the terpenes. Some smell like pepper. That’s not so pleasant blowing through your nose.

What are terpenes? Terpenes are those cool little molecular compounds that make the plant smell so darned good. All of the different terpenes convey different medicinal and psychoactive effects.

I learned from a story at ProjectCBD.org how terpenes were “discovered.” A couple of American expatriates formed a company in Holland that studied terpenes and infused marijuana plants with terpenes. They found that marijuana plants with half the THC of other plants became far more potent when infused with terpenes.

While a terpenes lesson is old hat for hardcore stoners and even most medical cannabis patients, all the old ladies following me on social media want to know! By God they are thinking about it for their arthritis.

Follow your nose…it always knows

Terpenes are found throughout nature. They convey an odor to flowers, vegetables and other plants.

Much like aromatherapy, ProjectCBD says “Follow your nose” when choosing which plant to puff. Do you like lavender? Then try lavender kush.

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I LOVE lavender like a cat likes catnip. My dispensary has some lavender kush right now but only in ounces. I can’t spare 300 bones right now so that is on the “next time” list.

Oh, the smells of cannabis terpenes. Lemon, pine, lime…they all do different things.

Plants that smell like pine contain Alpha-pinene, or essential pine oil. This terpene opens up the air passages and make it easier for asthmatics to breathe.

I absolutely love cannabis that smells like pine, and I have not bought any since obtaining my card. I need to do that. It has been many, many years since I ran across that strain.

Limonene, of course, smells like lemon and lime. It has been used on everything from gallstones to mood to heartburn, according to ProjectCBD, and even “has been shown to destroy breast-cancer cells in lab experiments.”

I have two strains of lemon right now – kush and tag. One is for day, one is for night. Both are solid and dependable.

Myrcene is a terpene that essentially puts you to sleep. It’s used for pain, stiff muscles, and insomnia.

All told, there are about 200 different terpenes. One of the joys of legal cannabis is that you know exactly what you’re getting terpene-wise when you spark up.

Terpene tutelage from Dr. Dustin Sulak of Maine

I first learned about terpenes while interviewing Maine osteopath Dr. Dustin Sulak for a Healthline News story. Dr. Sulak explained “the entourage effect” to me.

“Compounds in the plant, called terpenes, that give the flowers their aroma, are responsible for modifying the effects of the cannabinoids,” he said. “So, you can have two different strains, both with 10 percent THC and close to zero percent CBD, and one that smells like fruit might be sedating and a great treatment for insomnia, while the other that smells like pepper might be stimulating.”

As I went on to explain in my Healthline story, “This knowledge of how marijuana works and the effect of terpenes isn’t being put to use and studied, however, because the U.S. government only allows medical researchers to use pot grown at the University of Mississippi.”

Sulak also told me about “the entourage effect” of all of the medicinal properties of cannabis. That includes THC (the psychoactive ingredient most people think of in terms of getting ‘high,’ but in fact, it also prevents children from having seizures), CBD (not psychoactive and getting lots of media attention for its uses in treating people with PTSD and other conditions) and finally, the terpenes.

All plants are different and contain different levels and amounts of all three properties. Regardless of your medical condition, when it comes to choosing cannabis, there no doubt is a bud for you.

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Green Crack: Blisters on my feet, 2,500 words on a sheet

Like a true addict, there was no way I could say no to the crack.

Green Crack, that is.

Green Crack is a strain of medical cannabis. It is cultivated by GoldLeaf.

I have heard people rave about this strain. But as someone who was addicted to crystal meth from 1997 until 2001, and easily could have had a heart attack (once or twice I think I did) while tweaking, I don’t think kindly of the “crack” vernacular being applied to anything medicinal.

Names like this strain’s are one of the biggest stigmatizing forces the medical cannabis industry faces, if you ask me.

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What’s the flip side?

The flip side is that the addict in me absolutely has been wanting to check it out. If it’s called “crack,” and if people like it that much, something tells me I may find it pleasurable. And it’s legal!

Hmmmm. Irresponsible marketing? Not really. The stoner vernacular is to describe a strain as exactly how, well, a stoner sees it I guess. Bio Jesus. Girl Scout Cookies. Ghost Train. Etc.

That’s another blog post for later this week.

At any rate, experimenting with uppers is what led me down addiction’s beaten path. It was all fun and games on the dance floor in the beginning. You can read about my struggle with crystal methamphetamine by clicking here.

Green Crack helps sick, weary rise from bed

I certainly would not compare Green Crack to crystal meth or crack cocaine. However, it does hit me in the groin and make me horny, like crystal meth always did. I do not feel the least bit impaired cognitively. I do have quite a bit of energy, especially considering I got up at 3:30 a.m. and it is now almost 1 p.m.

Who would need something labeled “Crack” as medicine, one might ask. Well, for starters, how about depressed people? Or for that matter, anyone with a condition so debilitating, be it from physical or mental pain, that they don’t even want to get out of bed each day.

Do you know what that feels like? I do. But it has been a good many years since I have felt that way.

You do kind of wonder how “green” can make you feel like this. I understand it has to do with terpenes, the sativa strain, etc. Still, it definitely is an ampy feeling, but without any of the harsh side effects you would find in unnatural uppers like meth, or dirty ones like crack.

Add Moroccan melt for three, two, one…ignition…

However, like a true addict, it wasn’t enough for me to simply smoke the Green Crack flower. As a grand finale, I sprinkled Turbo Lemon Cake Moroccan melt atop one final bowl.

Now that is quite something. I just power-walked three laps around the block. I have plenty to do here inside the house as well.

Green Crack effectively powered me into the tenth, eleventh and 12th hours of my workday today. When coupled with Turbo Lemon Cake Moroccan melt by Revolution Cannabis, the power-walk laps around the block served as an effective cardiovascular routine in between writing cannabis blogs and book chapters.

Green Crack contains large amounts of psychoactive THC. For people suffering from anxiety or mental illness, such a strain could induce psychosis and other undesirable effects.

I have been high strung most all my life, but in the past week feel better than I have in years. I found the Green Crack to be a fun supplement to my day that resulted in increased productivity.

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David Heitz is a freelance writer for Contently, which provides America’s most recognizable brands with the finest content in the world.

Medicine cabinet shakeup: Bye-bye benzodiazepines, hello Mother Nature

As I was sitting in my front room this morning, I realized a level of contentment perhaps never before experienced.

I could hear all the birds singing in my maple tree, and nothing but the sound of the wind blowing through the neighborhood’s lush, winding cul de sacs. The air smelled the kind of familiar that brings instant relief.

And I remembered once, being alone in Los Angeles, strung out on crystal meth in the late 1990s. I remembered I was so far gone from who I once was that I could not even smell anything anymore. I could not think, I could not experience joy of any kind.

I remembered I wished I was 5 years old again. I wanted to just skip down the sidewalk like I used to on the way to school, smelling the air after a gentle rain and watching the earthworms slither down the sidewalk. I would hop over both the earthworms and the sidewalk cracks.

And this morning I realized I have all that, and that is my life today. I am proud of who I am and how I live my life. And I thought how insanely profound it is that I live in this house, and that sometimes you really do need to just listen to the universe.

I realized too what a difference a week makes. My outlook was not so rosy on Monday morning.

It’s important not to overdo yourself, and I need to remind myself of that this week and cut back on my workload a bit. But leaving a client behind never is easy, and I wish everyone the best of luck at Vital Updates.

But beyond that, it has been a rough few weeks because I chose to quit my benzodiazepine prescription (Xanax, Ativan) cold turkey. I am now managing breakthrough symptoms of PTSD-related anxiety with Pre 98 Bubba Kush legally purchased at a cannabis dispensary with my Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient card.

Xanax withdrawals include shakes, sweats, irritability

I had heard that quitting benzodiazepines was rough. Boy, I had no idea.

Two years ago, I was on 4 mg of Ativan a day. That’s a pretty massive dose, but anyone who knows me (and who matters) knows my anxiety was off the chains, in large part for very good reasons. The doctor really was left with no choice.

For an entire year, I gave up marijuana after a bad experience. How do bad experiences happen? When people don’t know what they’re getting. This is why it makes perfect sense to regulate medical marijuana and make it legal for those who use it for the medicine it is.

Medical marijuana, or even smoking marijuana casually on the street, is not to be entered into lightly. In the modern cannabis era, there are an endless number of strains available by the sheer method in which they grow it now. You would never walk into a pharmacy and start choosing pills willy-nilly.

Thankfully, Illinois law is very, very strict. The product is fully labeled with THC/CBD percentages. The cannabis consultants at the dispensaries are extremely knowledgeable.

That said, anyone with a card can get anything at the dispensary. It truly helps to understand the potency of the plant and respect it. And I do on both counts!

For me, the relief comes in the form of CBD. CBD is considered a plant’s “medicine,” although THC also has some therapeutic properties. For me, however, too much THC is a really bad thing, as is too much of a Sativa-dominant strain.

I really need to better explain all of this to readers who I am sure are curious. I plan to write more about medical cannabis in the future.

The power of Protandim

At any rate, I am now feeling very, very good after a rough stretch. The withdrawals from quitting the benzodiazepines included sweating, irritability, anxiety, hot flashes…all of it.

One woman in my medical cannabis support group said when she quit the benzos prescribed her for her PTSD, she felt like she was coming off heroin. I told her I looked in the mirror a few times and thought I looked like I was in meth withdrawals.

Not only do I feel good, no doubt the result of finally getting lots of rest, but I’m losing weight. And here’s where I want to mention Protandim.

Protandim, made by LifeVantage, is an Nrf2 activator. Essentially, Nrf2 is a pathway that allows important proteins to get where they need to go in the cells of our bodies. As we get older, these pathways don’t work as well.

I am not one to get into nutritional supplements unless I really believe in them. You might recall I am a fan of turmeric and wrote about that last year. Not surprisingly, Protandim has turmeric in it.

Protandim markets itself as an anti-aging supplement. All I can tell you is that after being on it three weeks I have lost weight, my skin is glowing, I feel good, people say I look good…not sure if it’s the pot or Protandim! Both started the same day, as did total abstinence from the benzodiazepines.

My friend Lori Freemire, who you might remember from her Bettendorf, Iowa days, along with her husband Mike, the former mayor, has been encouraging me to try Protandim. Finally, she sent me a bottle.

Poisonous prescription finally in the past

I used to joke that I was going to become a marijuana activist. Little did I know that the day might come that there never would be a need for that.

We’re not there yet, that’s for sure. And by no means would I call myself an activist.

It cannot be emphasized enough that marijuana must be used responsibly, like all medications. For myself, I cannot smoke anything with high levels of THC and that is sativa dominant. It will make me bounce off the walls.

Marijuana with extremely low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, that are Indica dominant or a hybrid, calm me down and bring me feelings of contentment.

The cannabis card isn’t just about buying weed. There also are edibles available. I have found that one Cresco cherry gummy before bedtime offers a wonderful night of nightmare-free rest.

I’m not sure why I’m feeling so much better, but I’m not going to doubt it, particularly after some major shake-ups in terms of what I’ve been putting into my body.

I like to refer to the benzodiazepines as “the poison.” The only good thing about the benzos was that my insurance company did not even require a co-payment for them. Medical cannabis in Illinois, on the other hand, is not cheap.

Unlike the toxic, addictive benzodiazepines, Protandim, meanwhile, is all natural. In addition to turmeric, which I already am a fan of and wrote about last year, Protandim contains milk thistle (liver health), bacopa (boosts thinking), green tea (powers up metabolism, melts fat) and ashwogandha (used in Indian medicine and catching on in the West).

I’ll buy Protandim for at least another month and let you know how it all goes. Do you have any herbal remedies you think are effective? If so, leave a comment and share it with us!

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Stoner bus Saturday turns into restful night’s sleep, sunny Sunday

Snowcaps

What a beautiful Sunday it has been so far.

I woke at 4 a.m. – on the nose, just like old times – feeling incredibly well rested. The last time I looked out the window it still was light out, so I know I got at least eight solid hours of sleep. I could not tell you the last time that happened.

In fact, I woke up and I felt so good that I decided to write a story for a client that’s not due until Tuesday. It feels great to be ahead of things.

And despite there being pot, pot everywhere, I did not smoke any until I got my story done.

I think just being booze-free a few days after the relapse has reminded me of just how good a body feels when you don’t put alcohol in it. But of course, the weed is nice, too.

I am smoking the different strains today trying to get a feel for what’s what. This vaporizer thing is incredible. You load the bowl just like a bong, but then the device vapes it with the this red-hot toker stick inside a large metal tube.

There is no water and no juice, but somehow you inhale vapor instead of smoke. This is how the hotel can allow smoking inside and not have open flames or have the place smell like Amsterdam.

Anyhow, after I got my story done I went downstairs for the free breakfast – scrambled eggs, sausage links, fruit, etc. Then to V.I., next door, for a cobb salad and a bowl of cream of broccoli soup. I’m ordering from a famous Denver Chinese food restaurant tonight, Pepper’s, and having it delivered.

Heaven.

Hell’s Angel great for breakthrough symptoms

The Hell’s Angel strain of cannabis has a THC level of 23.5 percent. I’m not sure about the CBD level. It is sort of my “go to” if I am having any sort of anxiety. For example, when we were gathering at the Cheba Hut (an incredible sandwich shop by the way…holy moly) I was getting on edge. The place was so crowded, and so noisy.

Keep in mind, we filled three gigantic tour buses. I’m glad I ended up on the bus I did. I immediately pulled out the Hell’s Angel when we boarded and then I was fine with the crowd, etc.

When I started vaping the cannabis this morning I decided to begin with Fruity Pebbles. Fruity Pebbles is an Indica-sativa hybrid that I bought at medicine man. The THC level is 26.34 percent, which is the highest THC level of all the cannabis products I purchased.

It was a nice buzz. I continued to feel very productive all morning. I did lots of organizing and planning for the week ahead and felt very calm, content and happy, just as I do now.

I’m glad to see the sun come out and the fog lift, which exposes the mountain view from my room, pictured with this blog.

It’s hard not to be content getting stoned on a sunny Sunday with the best weed on the planet. The price of the plant is so low that it allows you to smoke it as it should be smoked.

For example, all those people who think the bowl should be cashed out or you’re being wasteful? That’s not true when you’re smoking flower, hardcore bud enthusiasts told me yesterday. When you burn off those terpenes on the bud, that’s pretty much all she wrote. From there, you’re just inhaling plant carbon as opposed to cannabis’s healing or psychoactive properties.

Smoking bud the way it should be smoked

The cannabis seems remarkably clean and mild here to me, even though I wrote a story two years ago for Healthline News saying the opposite was true.

When I smoke with this vaporizer, I can taste every little nuance. For example, a lemon strain that I got seriously tastes as vividly lemon as nibbling on a lemon peel. It’s delicious.

The lemon strain makes me horny, for whatever reason. It has a THC level of 15.6 percent (low for Colorado) and a CBD level of 12 percent (the highest I’ve seen yet). THC is the ingredient that makes people “high” while CBD is better known for its medicinal properties.

I’ve been vaping the lemon strain now and then for the past few hours. It has been difficult to find recreational marijuana in Colorado that has a low THC percentage and a high CBD percentage. The lemon strain is the closest thing I have found.

Some dispensaries have different selections for recreational vs. medical customers. Medical customers pay even lower prices and can legally access even more strains. Even in a couple of the dispensaries where I saw the medical-specific selections, the CBD levels were not very high.

I’m surprised how I really have been able to think perfectly clearly most of the time considering how much cannabis I have vaporized the past three days. In fact, it’s just the edibles that sort of hit me hard. I was giggling in my bed by myself for a couple of hours last night after that edible-filled bus tour, lol.

I don’t feel ”high” with any of the strains I’ve vaped today. Just happy and calm.

The marijuana seems to wear off quickly, and then I just want to rest.

When you’re as high strung as I am, there’s nothing wrong with that.