Victor Robinson wrote his witty, entertaining and thoughtful “Essay On Hasheesh” in 1912, just before the dawn of the age of Pig Pharma. These were times when the companies whose greed would ultimately dominate world medicine were still peddling miracle baldness & flatulence cures on street corners.
In this blog post I would like to share a small section of one of Robinson’s introductory chapters in which he summarizes the history of natural medicines in just a few amazing paragraphs. Up until the early 20th Century physicians and healers had depended exclusively on a global apothecary of natural medicines. In introducing the medical glories of Cannabis, Robinson creates an amazing summary of these generations of medical knowledge which sometimes, as in the case of mercury, was horribly wrong but which often, as in the case of Cannabis, has proven more valuable to mankind than many of the nightmarish chemical inventions of Pig Pharma.
Two rather famous quotes by book reviewers of the time show how impressed and worried they were by the depth and scope of Robinson’s research and his appealing writing style.
One editor commented that Robinson’s arguments in favor of Hasheesh were so powerful that “…if there is any caution to go with this monograph, it should be to keep it out of the hands of the neurotics.”
Another prohibitionist reviewer remarked dolefully “We hope that Victor Robinson’s delightful description will not unduly popularize the use of this drug.”
Excerpt from “Hasheesh”
“Ailing man has ransacked the world to find balms to ease him of his pains. And this is only natural, for what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his digestion? Let the tiniest nerve be but inflamed, and it will bend the proudest spirit: humble is a hero with a toothache! It is doubtful if Buddha himself could have maintained his equanimity with a bit of dust on his conjunctiva. Caesar had a fever and the eye that awed the world did lose its lustre, and the tongue that bade the Romans write his speeches in their books cried like a sick child.
Our flesh is heir to many ills, and alas when the heritage falls due. Even pride and prejudice are then forgotten, and Irishmen in need of purgatives are willing to use rhubarb grown on English soil, while the foreign Colombo Root gathered by the feral natives in untamed forests is consumed by ladies who never saw anything wilder than a Fabian Socialist.
The modern descendant of Hippocrates draws his Materia Medica from the uttermost ends of the earth: linseed from busy Holland and floretted marigold from the exotic Levant; cuckoo’s cap from little Helvetia, and pepper-elder from ample Brazil; biting cubebs from spicy Borneo and fringed lichens from raw-winded Iceland; sweet flag from the ponds of Burmah, coto bark from the thickets of Bolivia, sleeping nightshade from the woods of Algeria, brownish rhatany from the sands of Peru, purple crocus from the pastures of Greece, aromatic vanilla from the groves of Mexico, golden seal from the retreats of Canada, knotty Aleppo from the plains of Kirghiz, fever-tree from the hills of Tasmania, white saunders from the mountains of Macassar.
Idols are broken boldly nowadays, but the daughter of Aesculapius does not fear, for Hygeia knows she will always have a frenzied world of worshippers to kneel at her every shrine in every land. All the reservoirs of nature have been tapped to yield medicines for man.
From the mineral kingdom we take the alkali metals, the nitrogen group, the compounds of oxygen, the healing waters, the halogens, the nitrate of silver, the sulphate of copper, the carbonate of sodium, the chloride of mercury, the hydroxide of potassium, the acetate of lead, the citrate of lithium, the oxide of calcium, and the similar salts of half a hundred elements from Aluminium to Zincum.
From the vegetable kingdom we extract the potent alkaloid; all things that blossom and bloom, we knead them as we list: the broad rhizome of iris, the wrinkled root of lappa, the inspissated juice of aloes, the flowerheads of anthemis, the outer rind of orange, the inner bark of cinnamon, the thin arillode of macis, the dense sclerotium of ergot, the ovoid kernel of nutmeg, the pitted seed of rapa, the pale spores of club-moss, the spongy pith of sassafras, the bitter wood of quassia, the smoothish bark of juglans, the unripe fruit of hemlock, the fleshy bulb of scilla, the brittle leaves of senna, the velvet thallus of agaric, the balsamic resin of benzoin, the scaly strobiles of hops, the styles and stigmas of zea.
The animal kingdom has likewise been forced to bring tribute to its highest brother: we use in medicine the blood-sucking leech, the natural emulsion from the mammary glands of the cow, the internal fat from the abdomen of the hog, the coppery-green Spanish fly, the globular excrements of the leaping antelope, the fixed oil from the livers of the cod, the fresh bile of the stolid ox, the vitellus of the hen’s egg, the fatty substance from the huge head of the sperm-whale, the odorous secretion of the musk-deer, the swimming-bladder of regal fish, the inner layer of the oyster-shell, the branched skeleton of the red polyp, the dried follicles of the boring beaver, the bony horns of the crimson deer, the thyroid glands of the simple sheep, the coagulated serum from the blood of the horse, the wax and the honey from the hive of the busy bee, and even the disgusting cockroaches that infest the kitchen-shelves and climb all over the washtubs are used as a diuretic and for dropsy.
Little it matters by whom the healing agent was ushered in, for mankind in its frantic search for health asks not the creed or color of its medical savior: Pipsissewa was introduced into medicine by the redskins, buchu by the hottentots, quassia by a negro slave, zinc valerianate by a French prince, krameria by a Spanish refugee, ipecac by the Brazilian aboriginecs, guaiac by a syphilitic warrior, aspidium by a Swiss widow.
“Medicine,” wrote the greatest of literary physicians, “appropriates everything from every source that can be of the slightest use to anybody who is ailing in any way, or likely to be ailing from any cause. It learned from a monk how to use antimony, from a Jesuit how to cure agues, from a friar how to cut for stone, from a soldier how to treat gout, from a sailor how to keep off scurvy, from a postmaster how to sound the Eustachian tube, from a dairy-maid how to prevent small-pox, and from an old market woman how to catch the itch-insect. It borrowed acupuncture and the moxa from the Japanese heathen, and was taught the use of lobelia by the American savage.”
And all these substances are daily being powdered, sifted, granulated, desiccated, percolated, macerated, distilled, sublimed, comminuted, dissolved, precipitated, filtered, strained, expressed, clarified, crystallized, ignited, fused, calcined, torrified and deflagrated into powders, pills, wafers, capsules, ampoules, extracts, tinctures, infusions, decoctions, syrups, cordials, essences, magmas, suppositories, tablets, troches, ointments, plasters, abstracts, liniments, collodions, cataplasms and so on and so on.
And all these finished preparations have a most laudable object in view – the eradication of disease and the alleviation of pain. Ah, this is indeed a quest worth the striving for! To accomplish the quadrature of the circle, or ferret out the secret of perpetual motion, may be highly interesting, the of problematical value only; but when a clammy sweat bathes the brow, and the delicate nerves twitch till the tortured human frame shakes in anguish, how important is it to be able to lift the veil from a condition like this! He who conquers disease is greater than the builder of cities or the creator of empires. His value is above the poets, statesmen cannot be compared unto him, educators equal him not in worth.
A careful economist like John Stuart Mill tells us it is doubtful if all the labor-saving machinery ever invented has lessened for a single day the work of a single human being, but when a discovery is made in medicine it becomes a sun which sheds its beneficence on all who suffer. The sick pauper of today lying in a charity hospital receives better medical treatment than the sick potentate of yesterday lying in his costly palace. But so far medical science has only unhorsed, not overthrown pain, its ancient antagonist. In spite of all the remedies, in spite of all the research, mankind as yet possesses no satisfactory antidote for suffering; it knows no drug which can give pain its conge for more than a transient period.
But altho the time of relief be limited, the simple fact that there are substances which do have some power over pain is sufficient to make the study of narcotism highly important. And of all the narcotics – a narcotic being roughly defined as a substance which relieves pain and produces excitability followed by sleep – none is more alluring to the imagination than the intoxicating hemp-plant, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa and popularly famed as Hasheesh – those strange flowering-tops that appeal to a pot-bellied bushman of Australia who smokes it in a pipe of animal tusks, and to so hyper-esoteric a litterateur as Charles Baudelaire of the Celestial City of Art.”
“I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing technology. It is a marvelous experience to inhale the essence of pure vaporized Cannabis flower, and vaporizing is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it.”
Both my parents smoked cigarettes, and I loved the smell of tobacco and the rituals surrounding it. The click of my Dad’s Zippo lighter as he flipped it open, the aroma of lighter fluid, then the scratch of the wheel and the muted whoosh of flame, followed by Dad’s first eager puff and long, slow, savory exhale. Cigarettes were actually real tobacco in those days, and their aroma was literally intoxicating to me. So naturally I began smoking too when I was pretty young.
I first discovered Marijuana when I was seventeen, and fell in love with the tastes and smells of those first strains to hit the streets of California – Acapulco Gold and Oaxacan Purple, and the mysterious Panama Red that occasionally drifted up from Florida. Of course, most of what we got was Mexican Smash – leaves, stems and the occasional beetle glued together with Coca Cola – but it was still great smoke as long as you were young and stupid and had no taste. The Marijuana we took huge risks and paid big money for in 1960 you couldn’t give away today, and rightfully so.
However, beginning in my 50’s it was clear that smoking was damaging my health, as was drinking, so I gradually phased both (mostly) out of my life. I did enjoy the occasional bud that floated my way out of the inherent kindness of the universe, and when I would find myself near a promising bar I wouldn’t deny myself the pleasure of a good margarita. But by & large I tried to become much more moderate, and even in moderation I was finding the experience of drinking and smoking was losing its appeal.
Moderation is a great thing – in moderation – and now that I find myself newly settled back in Oregon I am delighted to be able to walk into great little gourmet Cannabis shops and select a gram of bud from a strain I’ve never tried before. For a small party we had a few weeks back and I bought a Cannabis Tasting Flight, a gram each of the budtenders six favorite top shelf Sativa/Indica selections, the same way I would have for a Wine or Tequila Flight. How pleasant to be able to enjoy Cannabis as a normal part of life without the tinge of paranoia that was always (quite rationally) present.
But what adds so much to my pleasure in trying out all these new strains is that I don’t have to smoke any more. I’ve found that I can vaporize a pinch of dried flower in an efficient little device and enjoy this particular strain’s unique flavors and aromas along with whatever body and mind effects I’m looking for in a particular strain.
Nobody has to be old to enjoy the benefits of vaporizing whole Cannabis flowers, but if you are getting on in years like I am and want to be able to enjoy the medicinal and recreational benefits of Cannabis without the toxic side-effects of smoke, as I do, then you’re going to really appreciate the new whole flower vaporizing technology that’s out there. For me, it’s so superior to smoking the divine weed in any kind of pipe that I am never going back.
Don’t get me wrong – I love smoke. All kinds. Always have. I miss the days of walking out to the airplane across the tarmac, inhaling the jet fuel and diesel equipment fumes that smelled like freedom. Around campfires I would always take the downwind spot and enjoy inhaling the clouds of burning wood and charring meat. I couldn’t get enough of trains and train stations, and once underway I always spent as much time as possible between the cars enjoying the motion, the sounds, and the smells of the smoke trailing back from the diesel engines far ahead. Pulling out of Tokyo harbor in 1949 on an old Navy troopship carrying hundreds of military women & children back to America, the air full of salt, fish, garbage, oil and diesel, the whole ship vibrating beneath my feet and great clouds of bunker fuel fumes coming from the smokestacks and from the hard-revving tugs alongside – I was in little kid heaven.
I have to admit that for years I held a lot of ill-informed opinions about vaping, and I still don’t like the idea of inhaling the vapors of chemically-processed anything, even supposedly “natural” Cannabis products like Wax & Shatter. In retrospect it looks to me like vaporizing technology, or at least vaporizer marketing, skipped right past whole dried Cannabis flowers and went straight to more easily manufactured and standardized but potentially lethal products, and huge numbers of people went along without thinking.
Unfortunately too much of the Cannabis industry seems to have fallen into this trap. Although hundreds of growers are producing thousands of beautiful, flavorful, exotic strains of Cannabis, most shops price and sell these flowers based on their THC levels without regard for taste and smell, mind/body effects like creativity or couchlock, or therapeutic effects like sleep initiation or appetite stimulation. It is as if fine wines were being sold primarily for their alcohol content, on the premise that nobody cared about enjoying them any other way.
Out of an enormous worldwide market for cheap addictive chemicals in sleek little devices has come the shadow world of unregulated vaping compounds packaged in colorful, toy-like electronic inhalers. I’m afraid that a lot of people are being conned into inhaling vapors of cheap industrial chemicals from China and India in totally unregulated compounds disguised with clever names and fruity flavors. I’m concerned that many of these folks are going to have deep regrets sooner rather than later. I would not be surprised at all to see epidemiologists soon begin announcing the discovery of a mysterious multi-symptom epidemic of irreversible neurological damage among young people that will ultimately be traced to vaping these clever little toys filled with whatever industrial chemicals the device manufacturer thinks will kick ass.
In whatever terrible ways that onrushing tragedy may evolve, I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing pure Cannabis flower. It is not only a marvelous experience in itself, but it is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it. I’m writing this post because I’ve come to believe that vaporizing dry Cannabis flower may be the best medical and recreational option for many people my age – let’s just say someone who’s well into those golden years.
Older people who want to enjoy Cannabis as part of a lifestyle or who find that Cannabis is a helpful medication need to discover that vaporizing Cannabis flowers is a smoke-free option with real advantages. For one thing, your body isn’t being subjected to Cannabis smoke, which in addition to the good stuff like THC also contains concentrated particles of carcinogenic soot as well as carcinogenic combustion gasses. Smoke itself, any smoke, is full of substances and chemicals created by combustion that are known to lead directly to horrible diseases. That’s true of any smoke coming from any combusted organic matter – Cannabis, cigarettes, backyard grills, fireplaces or campfires.
I’ve found vaporizers easy to use – at least my device is simplicity itself and if it lasts over a couple of years I’ll consider it a worthwhile buy. All I have to do is to pinch off a bit of Cannabis flower and put it into the small ceramic chamber, tamp it down and then put the mouthpiece back on, tap in the code and wait a few seconds for the digital readout to show me that the chamber is at 400 degrees, and then draw in a stream of almost invisible vapor.
My first hit of fresh Cannabis flower vapor is exactly like the first long sip of a cold beer on a hot day – I know there won’t be a better sip in the whole bottle. All of the volatile, delicate flavors and aromas of the flower come across fresh and intact in that first sip of vapor. Everything that follows, while enjoyable and pleasant, can never equal that first rush of magical molecules.
I find that if I stop after the first hit of vapor (I wish I were inclined to do so more often), I am already close to where I want to be, and I find that I need only a few tokes on the vaporizer to enjoy the same results that would otherwise take a whole bowl or joint. I like that I am not subjecting my increasingly aging body to the toxic stress of smoke just so that I can enjoy being high and receiving the health benefits of Cannabis.
Whether you are medicating with Cannabis, or simply relaxing with a bud after a long day, by using a vaporizer you will be able to do so discreetly, cleanly, and without the toxic side effects of smoke. Vaporizing is an especially nice way to use Cannabis as a sleep aid because your body doesn’t have to deal with the toxic effects of smoke in order to get the beneficial effects of the vaporized THC and CBD. Just fire up the vaporizer, take a clean, sweet hit, lie back, relax and drift off to sleep. It’s especially nice not to have to worry about choking your partner with a bedroom full of smoke at 2 AM just because you’ve woken up and need a hit to get back to sleep.
Another real advantage of using a vaporizer is that your environment isn’t permeated by stale smoke. As delightful as those first hits of fresh bud are, a Cannabis smoker’s living space quickly gets as nasty as any cigarette smoker’s cave. Stale smoke is just stale smoke, no matter how delightful its origins. But with a vaporizer, especially if you only take the first few puffs when the vapor is so pure that it is practically invisible, there is almost no lingering odor to disturb others or to betray you to the smoke Nazis that seem to be on patrol everywhere these days.
Bottom line – if you’re getting on in years and haven’t tried vaporizing Cannabis flowers as an alternative to smoking then you owe it to yourself to have the experience. It may open up new possibilities in areas of fun and pleasure that you thought were fading away, and it will certainly make using Cannabis for your health, vitality and medical needs a lot cleaner and more private.
But perhaps the best reason of all to vaporize is that smoking is now a relic of the past, just like living in caves – people have loved the essence of Cannabis since the dawn of time, and for thousands of years we had to inhale smoke to enjoy that essence (except for bhang, of course), and so we all went ahead, fired it up, lay back and watched the shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. Now that vaporizing technology has arrived we don’t have to smoke to enjoy and benefit from Cannabis, and I for one am happy to leave those delightful but poisonous clouds far behind in the cave where they belong.
(#3 in the continuing “Straight Talk on Medical Cannabis™” series)
The Cannabis Cure For Headaches
You may already know that Cannabis has been recognized throughout human history as a safe & effective treatment for headaches. But even if you already know that Cannabis is a remarkable treatment for many kinds of headaches, I’ve been reading a research paper on this topic that is worth a bit of study no matter how familiar you are with medical Cannabis.
This research study, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal and authored by prominent Southern California physicians and psychiatrists, gets around the US government’s deliberate failure to fund studies that might show Cannabis is an effective natural medicine by examining the ancient & past historical record in detail, as well as by looking at credible contemporary reports and analyses.
It is written in easily understood, layman’s language and cites historical sources like Assyrian manuscripts dating around 2000 BC, the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides, the 9th Century Arabic medical encyclopedia “Al-Aq-rabadhin Al-Saghir”, and Persian medical texts from the 10th through the 17th Centuries. Most relevant to today’s environment, the researchers also cite clinical literature showing wide-spread medical use of Cannabis for headaches in the 1800’s in Europe and America.
This research study focuses on the four main types of headache: migraines, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches. The authors find that headache is a major public health concern, with enormous individual and social costs estimated at $14.4 billion annually, due mainly to decreased quality of life, decreased productivity and crippling disability. Each year, nearly 50% of the US population experiences major headaches, including migraine (10%), tension-type headache (38%), and chronic daily headache (3%).
Women are 200-300% more likely than men to experience migraine and 125% more likely to experience tension-type headache, which may explain to some degree why the government could care less about headache research. As most people know, any disease that affects mainly women and minorities typically gets the shaft from our government unless strong advocacy forces the issue.
Some of the most powerful evidence for the effectiveness of Cannabis in treating and curing headaches of all kinds comes from clinical publications in 19th Century America and Europe. According to the authors “Clinical publications between 1839 and 1937 provide valuable insights into the most effective practices, challenges, and benefits during an era when cannabis was commonly used to treat headache.”
They continue, “Historical sources indicate that cannabis was used as an effective prophylactic and abortive treatment for headache disorders. Although dosing varied among physicians, most prescribed alcohol extractions of the drug in the range of ¼ to ½ grain (16–32 mg). This dose was likely chosen to minimize the effects of intoxication while also providing effective therapeutic relief. Other providers suggested that doses should be progressively increased until modest effects of intoxication were felt. For prophylactic treatment, these doses were usually administered two to three times daily for weeks or even months. Acute treatment often involved higher doses taken as needed and, in some cases, smoked cannabis was recommended.”
As so often happens, non-medical people suffering from a disease are way ahead of the doctors in seeking out treatments and cures, and the millions of Americans and Europeans who suffer from headaches today are no exception. Even though the usefulness of Cannabis for treating headaches has been well-established for centuries, and even though the US government makes it a crime to treat yourself with Cannabis, millions of people have been risking jail (before the growing success of the Cannabis legalization movement) to use Cannabis as a medicine, and they already know that it works even in the absence of official “proof”.
The authors discuss how both doctors and patients are already “proving” that Cannabis works in states where it is now legal. For example, in a passage on the current state of Cannabis treatment in California, the authors note that:
“Many individuals are currently using cannabis for the treatment of migraine and headache with positive results. In a survey of nine California clinics … 40.7% patients self-reported that cannabis had therapeutic benefits for headaches and migraines. In another California survey of 7525 patients, 8.43% of patients reported that they were using medical cannabis to treat migraines. Another survey of 1430 patients found that 9% of patients were using medical cannabis to treat migraines.”
The authors further report that “One retrospective study described 121 patients who received cannabis for migraine treatment, among whom 85.1% of these patients reported a reduction in migraine frequency. The mean number of migraines at the initial visit was 10.4, falling to 4.6 at follow-up visits after cannabis treatment. Moreover, 11.6% of the patients found that, when smoked, cannabis could effectively arrest the generation of a migraine.”
In today’s environment there are plenty of choices of strains of Cannabis that are well-known to be specifically helpful for relief of headache, regardless of the absence of clinical research. In Cannabis-legal states you can depend on the team comprised of a trusted medical professional and your local medical Cannabis dispensary to provide you with good information on your treatment options.
In states where Cannabis is not yet legal, patients who have to resort to the “black market” can inform themselves on what to look for through on-line resources like https://leafly.com, a trustworthy provider of both medical and recreational strain information. Then it’s a matter of buying from someone who can be trusted to sell you exactly what they claim they are selling you, to ensure that you are getting a headache-specific Cannabis strain.
Fortunately, many of the most common “black market” strains are known to be therapeutic for headache, although online Cannabis advice-givers seem to focus almost exclusively on Migraines and ignore making recommendations for tension headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches.
Among the commonly available strains that are also widely recommended for Migraines are Northern Lights, OG Kush, Blue Dream, Lemon Kush, and several low-THC, high-CBD strains that are not as universally available including Charlotte’s Web, CBD, Harlequin and Remedy. Always seek the most reliable source for your medical Cannabis, and stay aware of the fact that growers of the same strain vary widely in their attention to healthful growing practices. The OG Kush that one Dispensary offers will not be the same that others offer, and one Dispensary’s bud may be responsibly grown while the grower for another Dispensary may be a chem-head. Especially if you’re vaporizing flower to deal with headache – the best way, I’ve found – it pays to avoid Cannabis that may have pesticide residues and stick with dependable sources.
What if there was a natural medicine that could not only control Huntington’s Chorea, as well as chorea stemming from other non-genetic diseases and conditions, but quite possibly cure it?
What if instead of having to take a medicine that may force you to think about suicide, you could take the extract of a simple flower and re-discover how good life is without chorea?
What if the medical profession published numerous medical journal articles about this natural medicine 150 or so years ago, when it was a standard successful treatment for chorea?
And finally, what if for the last 80 years or so the combined power of the US government and Pig Pharma corporations had made possession of this natural medicine grounds for slamming you in prison for a long, long time? That would be – let’s see, what’s the opposite of “Awesome”?
Huntington’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disease and most common inherited cause of chorea. Other non-inherited causes of chorea are show in the graphic above.
Chorea is characterized by brief, semi-directed, irregular movements that are not repetitive or rhythmic, but appear to flow from one muscle to the next. When chorea is serious, slight movements will become thrashing motions.
The characteristic movements of chorea often include twisting and writhing. Walking may become difficult because of uncontrollable body postures and leg movements.
Unlike ataxia, which affects the quality of voluntary movements, or Parkinsonism, which is a inhibition of voluntary movements, the movements of chorea occur involuntarily, without any conscious effort to move a limb, an extremity (hands or feet), the head or neck, or any other part of the body. Because all movements associated with chorea are involuntary, it is classified as a hyperkinetic movement disorder.
The only answers that Pig Pharma has for Chorea are treatments, not cures. One of the most commonly prescribed “medicines” is tetrabenazine. Among the risks associated with tetrabenazine’s use are: sedation, fatigue, insomnia, akathisia, anxiety and nausea. Oh, and also tetrabenazine increases the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior in people afflicted with Huntington’s disease. So it doesn’t cure you, but it may make you decide to kill yourself. Nice drug. All the other Pig Pharma answers to Huntington’s Disease pose similar risks and do not cure Chorea.
In fairness, it is important to point out that one of the following reported cases of someone with chorea who was healed by Cannabis, was a young girl who had suffered from a bout of rheumatic fever a month prior to the onset of Chorea. It is well-established (in 2018) that one type of Chorea, Sydenham’s chorea, occurs as a complication of streptococcal infection, and that twenty percent of children and adolescents with rheumatic fever who are left untreated with antibiotics develop Sydenham’s chorea as a complication. So it is possible, even likely, that what Dr. Douglas is describing is a strep infection leading to Chorea – in other words, a sub-set of Chorea. However, since Cannabis is not an antibiotic, it seems unlikely that in this case being described its beneficial use in the treatment of Chorea would be confined to this single sub-set of the disease. Plus the instance of this young girl is only one of many Cannabis chorea cures that are described in this medical journal article from 1869.
Fortunately for people suffering from Huntington’s today, in most places Cannabis is available for self-treatment, and in the more advanced states there are even physicians who have bothered to learn and build on what their colleagues discovered 150 years ago, ignoring the poisons being pushed by Pig Pharma.
Here is one example of what has been known and withheld from those who suffer for eight generations. The research isn’t perfect, and the doctor is very much trapped in many of the false assumptions of his day, but he is clear on one thing – Cannabis is a powerful natural medicine that is safe and effective for treating neurological diseases like Chorea.
FROM THE EDINBURGH MEDICAL JOURNAL FOR MARCH 1869.
By Dr. Douglas F.R.G.P.E.
Vice-President of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh
February 4th, 1869
THE USE OF INDIAN HEMP IN CHOREA
The value of Indian hemp as a therapeutic agent is well established, but a singular difficulty has been experienced in securing for it the confidence to which it is evidently entitled. Without attempting to explain or to excuse this difficulty, I propose to illustrate what appears to me one of its most useful applications.
The negative virtues of the drug are amongst its chief merits. Dr. Russell Reynolds, who writes one of the most recent, and one of the best expositions of the value of this remedy, tells us, as the result of a manifestly practical and thoughtful experience, that it is a soporific, anodyne and antispasmodic; and that it relieves pain and spasm: that it does not leave behind it headache nor vertigo; nor does it impair the appetite nor confine the bowels. These important virtues accord with anything I have seen of its action; nor have I met with any annoyance in practice from its peculiar action on the emotional or intellectual state of the sick. We are apt to be deterred from the use of a remedy by such pictures of its more peculiar actions, as are given of the abuse of the drug in countries where it is resorted to as a means of intoxication, and of its action in the cases of patients who under its use became tortured by ocular illusions and spectres of horrible form.
I do not doubt that such effects result from the use of the drug; but, in prescribing it, I have not met with them, and I am disposed to think that they are to be avoided even more certainly than we can guard against the unpleasant effects of opium.
As in the case of other useful drugs, the contradictory and extreme views of the efficacy and certainty of its therapeutic action, urged by writers of high authority, have retarded confidence in cannabis Indica; and indeed its applications to disease seem scarcely to have been investigated with the reliance which its demonstrated energy would justify. It is now many years since Dr. Dominic Corrigan published a series of cases which underwent cure in the course of four or five weeks, mainly by the use of the cannabis Indica, in doses of five minims of the tincture, increased to twenty-five: one of the cases, being of ten years standing, was cured in a month. (Archives of Medicine. Edited by Lionel S. Beale, M.B. Vol. ii. London Medical Times, 1845.)
One cannot resist the impression that other elements in the treatment, besides the administration of the cannabis, had need to be taken into account in the explanation of such cures; and moreover, before the actual value of the drug in such cases can be determined, a minute statement of the clinical and pathological relations of each case would be required i.e., how far the case might be one of chorea arising in connexion with rheumatism, struma, cerebral or spinal disease, or in connexion with some more temporary source of irritation in the system, as from derangement of the digestive or of the generative or other functions.
Again, we find Dr. Wilks of Guy’s Hospital arguing that, because fifty remedies have been found to cure such a disease as chorea, it may be safely left to itself. Accordingly, Dr. Wilks, admitting the usefulness of Dr. Hughes favourite and useful remedy, rhubarb steeped in port wine, prescribes to his patients the syrup of orange, that students may witness the spontaneous cure of the disease; and his patients, like Dr Corrigan’s, left the hospital cured in about a month.
Nevertheless, whatever preference we may have for a medicine expectant, that permits the sick to recover, over the heroic measures, whose advocates claim to have cured the patients who escape out of their hands, thoughtful practitioners will not be prevented from inquiring into the nature and the extent of special therapeutic actions by the scepticism of doubters nor by the rash generalizations of hasty observers.
Jane Williamson, aged 13, was admitted into the Chalmers Hospital under my care on the 15th of October last. She had the look of previously good health, and she was well nourished, but not robust. At the date of her admission, she presented the awkward gesture and the grimace of established chorea, though not severe in its degree. Temperature was natural; pulse 90, rather small; there was slight rheumatic pain of the knees and elbows, and an excited state of the heart’s action. The urine was loaded with lithates, it was normal in density, about 30 oz. in twenty-four hours. The bowels were easily regulated.
The treatment, in the first instance, consisted in the administration of a solution of the acetate of potash, with infusion of digitalis, and four minims of Fowler’s solution thrice a day.
The history of her previous illness given by herself and her friends was that, about a month previously, she was taken with a not intense attack of rheumatic fever. She suffered a good deal from the state of the larger joints; no symptom of cardiac inflammation appeared to have existed, but, for about a fortnight preceding her admission, she presented choreal action, gradually increasing indegree and affecting the extremities and face. . .
During the days immediately succeeding her admission, a rapid change occurred in the degree of the choreal movements, and in the state of the heart’s action. The latter became so disturbed, feeble, and excited, with feeble arterial pulse, as to cause serious anxiety for the safety of the patient, and at the same time the choreic agitation increased with such violent restlessness and 1 oiling in bed that excoriation occurred over the sacrum and both nates, while contortion of the features and tossing of the extremities, especially when their movement was attempted, continued excessive, the articular effects of rheumatism decreased, temperature became more natural, and urine healthy, but the bowels became torpid. The arsenic was persevered with, and a few 30-grain doses of bromide of potassium were given. Each dose was followed by a short period of quiescence, but, on the 20th, the excitement of the heart’s action became so alarming that 25-minim doses of tincture of Indian hemp were administered, followed by apparently marked, but only transient abatement of the spasmodic movement, which, as Dr. Hogg, the resident physician, reported, seemed to recur subsequently with increased and distressing severity.
On the following day, that is, the sixth of her residence in the Hospital, her condition seemed desperate, chiefly on account of the protracted and uncontrollable hurry of the heart’s action. She was ordered to have six minims of the tincture of cannabis every hour, the arsenic and other remedies being intermitted. The bowels were now well regulated, the excoriations of the back and nates had increased so as to form superficial sloughs of considerable extent, the pulse was small and so rapid as not to be counted, and the heart’s action was still feeble, rapid, and disturbed. She had four ounces of brandy per day. On the following day, having had twenty doses of the tincture, there was marked and increasing improvement. The violence of the tossing and rolling had diminished materially, though still it was necessary to have her secured in bed to prevent her falling or rolling over. From this time till the 15th day of her residence in the hospital, the tincture was administered from hour to hour, and she continued to make daily and progressive improvement. At that date (the 28th) she had been free of all the more violent spasmodic movements for two days and the heart’s action was quiet, pulse about 80, appetite good, bowels regular. She still presented a degree of the peculiar grimace, with awkwardness in protruding the tongue and in movement of the arms and hands. There was great mental lethargy, with languor and exhaustion, which made it impossible for her to be out of bed.
The tincture of hemp was now discontinued, and arsenical solution in four-minim doses resumed.
The subsequent progress of the case, though tedious, and so far disappointing, may be told in a few sentences. On the 1st of November, and on several occasions during the rest of that month, there occurred a renewal of the choreal state, which had not indeed absolutely disappeared, though it was often so trivial and even absent as to encourage the hope of an early recovery. Arsenic was perseveringly employed, with a carefully-regulated diet and general management, but on each occasion, of which three were noted, when an exacerbation of the choreic condition arose, a marked abatement of the muscular action resulted from the administration of small and hourly-repeated doses of tincture of hemp, relief sometimes arising so speedily as within six or eight hours. On one occasion the improvement was not decided for three or four days.
In the beginning of December, rheumatic symptoms recurred with slight febrile action and articular pains and renewal of choreic agitation. At the same time, marked excitement of the heart’s action was renewed, and now, for the first time, a faint soft diastolic murmur, indicative of aortic regurgitation, was with difficulty perceived. A weak solution of acetate and nitrate of potash was administered, and grain doses of opium four or five times in twenty-four hours. Pain arid fever abated, but not the spasmodic movement, and on the third day afterwards six-minim doses of tincture of hemp were given every two hours, followed by an immediate decrease of the chorea, which at once declined to its slightest degree in two or three days.
The patient now presented more marked indications of returning health. The state of mental lethargy into which she had early lapsed was now passing off; her appetite was revived, and on the 20th December she was able to be out of bed and to walk with assistance. Small doses of the iodide of potassium with the infusion of quassia were given, and improvement went on uninterruptedly; she did not, however, cast off the choreic jerk and awkwardness till the second week of January 1869. She has since had a very comfortable convalescence, but the diastolic murmur noted above continues strongly developed.
In the remarks I have to offer on this case, I confine myself to the points which illustrate the value and application of cannabis Indica in the treatment of choreal spasm. It is well said by Dr. Hughes, that each case of chorea, like each case of every other disease, should be separately studied; and though it may be regarded as one of a class, should still be viewed as a distinct individual of the class. In the case of my patient, the general characteristics of the attack point it out as an example of a large class of cases in which acute rheumatism constitutes the primary and originating source of chorea, while its special features simply declare the degree of chorea, with its repeated recurrences, and the unusual violence of agitation, to have been more than ordinarily severe, without any such personal or inherited constitutional peculiarity as exists in certain forms of this and of other nervous diseases.
Connected with the severity of the chorea, an inquiry of some difficulty arises out of the condition of the heart, particularly its disturbed action in the early stage, and the endocarditic lesion which occurred later, and which declared its presence only with the renewed rheumatic attack in the beginning of December. At the time of her admission and subsequently, notwithstanding the extra-ordinary hurry of the heart’s action, I persuaded myself that there was no organic nor inflammatory lesion, and I came to the conclusion that the severity of the choreic state had extended to the heart. The evidences of endocarditis subsequently developed cast doubt on my view of the previously choreic state of the heart; and there does not appear to be any means of solving the question beyond the opinion of those who saw the patient.
It certainly seems unlikely that endocarditis capable of causing such extreme disturbance of the heart’s action should have existed, unaccompanied from the outset by other indications of its presence.
This point possesses some interest in connexion with the view advanced by Dr. Russell Reynolds, that Indian hemp has been of no service in those affections of mind, sensation, or motility, which are simply functional in their character, or, at all events, have no established morbid anatomy. On the other hand, that it has afforded notable relief in cases where organic disease existed.
I do not agree with this view, but it would be beside my object to discuss it here. On the supposition, however, that the view is a sound one, it suggests that, in my patient, the organic lesion had originated in the heart at an early stage of the attack, and, consequently, the beneficial effects of the cannabis were so readily exerted. On the whole, the conclusion is a fair one, that endocarditis was present earlier than appeared; though still, I cling to the view that the disturbed action was, in the first instance, functional and choreic.
The practical interest of my case, however, consists in the illustration it affords of the special use and application of cannabis in the treatment of choreal spasm, and of the mode in which the remedy may be administered in many cases, if not in all. I have already remarked on the mistake, as it seems to me, of looking for general curative results in this or in any disease from the mere general application of special therapeutic observation or experience.
I think the cases and cures of chorea by tincture of hemp reported, to whlch I have referred, illustrate the fallacy of such reasonings; but, on the other hand, the case of my patient suggests that there is a special, and perhaps a frequently useful, application of the drug in such circumstances. The impression which the case leaves on my mind is, that cannabis has a peculiar value and power in controlling the irregular movements of chorea, which ever and again are terribly distressing, and possibly even dangerous, to the patient; and it would be of no small moment to determine the extent and limit of its influence, and to ascertain whether or not choreic action, even in slighter cases, might not be moderated by this remedy.
The result of repeated trial in my patient seems to show, on the one hand, that the violence of choreal action was speedily moderated; and the protracted duration of the case, on the other hand, makes it sufficiently evident that the virtue of the remedy did not reach farther in the direction of removal and radical cure of the disease. This points to an important question in the treatment of chorea, which has been mooted by many writers on the subject, viz., how far the chorea is to be dealt with as an independent condition, and how far its treatment and removal will be best achieved by the treatment of the diseased state out of which it has sprung?
I think that systematic writers and clinical lecturers have dealt with the subject of chorea too much as an independent disease, and that the late Dr. Babington, of London, in his justly-admired paper on chorea, indicated a sound and philosophic principle, when he advised that when the disease has arisen by metastasis of rheumatism, it should be treated in the same way as pericarditis is treated.
Recognising, then, the principle that our chief aim in the treatment is to combat the constitutional state, or the local disease in connexion with which the chorea has arisen, I conclude farther, from the case I have read, that an important aim must sometimes, if not at all times, be to allay the severity of the choreal state by the use of cannabis, or by other means. On this point, I cannot resist quoting from M. Trousseau his earnest utterances in the behalf of tartar emetic as a means of subduing the violence of choreal agitation: “Unfortunately,”says that learned physician, “there are cases in which the convulsive agitation is of such violence that all known means are without avail, and the physician too often sees poor young girls perish miserably, the skin rubbed and deeply ulcerated by incessant friction, that no appliance can obviate.
But surely, in such circumstances, cannabis Indica is a far more appropriate remedy than tartar emetic, affording, as M. Trousseau adds, “if though only in exceptional cases, a chance of success where we appeared impotent.”
The limit of the therapeutic action of cannabis Indica in these cases is incidentally indicated, with a thoroughly practical wisdom, by Dr Williams and by Dr Walshe. So long ago as in 1843, Dr Williams is reported to have said, in the course of a discussion, that he had found it “ relieves chorea during its exhibition, but without radical effect on the disease.”
In 1849, Dr Walshe, in a clinical lecture, says: “Not only was its sedative effect marked in degree, but it was almost immediate in point of time, leaving no doubt on my mind as to the reality of its influence.”
The recurrent attacks of chorea in the case of my patient afforded the means of direct illustration of the efficacy of the drug in subduing the choreal state. for repeatedly the same result was witnessed in the speedy and more or less complete subsidence of the agitation under the use of the remedy, and the decided effect produced on the heart’s action tends to confirm me in the impression that the disturbed state of that organ was largely choreal.
As to the mode of administering the remedy, small and frequent doses proved both safe and effective, and great advantage appeared to arise from increasing the frequency of the dose rather than its amount. Believing, as I do, that cannabis Indica is a remedial agent of value in many and various maladies, I am prepared to recommend this mode of seeking its effects by frequent rather than by larger doses at longer intervals. Such a mode of prescribing it has not been usual; but I find, quoted from an American source, the account of a case of hiccup treated in this way by eight-drop doses of a fluid extract, administered hour by hour, in which recovery from an attack that had defied treatment for five days took place in a few hours.
I have brought this case under the notice of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, not on account of any novelty in its history, nor on account of any conclusions it very positively points to, but simply to bring anew to the light of day an important therapeutic fact, which seemed like to be buried in the pages of undisturbed magazines, and which, probably, has an important application, not only to distressing and dangerous cases of chorea, but even to slight and ordinary cases, as well as to cases of other spasmodic diseases, such as hiccup, irritable heart, asthma, tetanus, and the like.
Back in 1981 my wife Lisle and I began experimenting with alcohol extracts of Cannabis for medical needs, and created a number of simple recipes using using Cannabis buds and good quality brands of liquor. These recipes later became part of “Marijuana Foods”, published by Simon & Schuster in the early 1980’s. The book is still being published in its original form by Ronin Press in 2017 under a new title. While the language of this old book is outdated, the extract recipes are still valid, and are still a pretty cool way to enjoy Cannabis.
What Is This Young Woman Eating !!!???
Herbal Marijuana Liqueurs (from Marijuana Foods by Bill Drake 1981)
The delightful taste of sweet sinsemilla can be captured deliciously in any liqueur, but there are several combinations that work like a charm. These delightful little potions are probably among the nicest ways of using Marijuana either medicinally or for sheer pleasure. Preparing a good marijuana liqueur is a two-stage process.
First you must prepare the alcohol extract of marijuana. Vodka makes an excellent base, Scotch is sophisticated, grain alcohol is effective but harsh, blue Agave tequila is a treat, and heavy, dark rum is excellent, particularly 181 proof. Any 60 proof and above alcohol beverage can serve as an extract base, but the more sugary varieties low on alcohol (40-60 proof) do not do as good a job as the higher proof whiskies, rums, tequilas, vodkas and the like.
Decide how potent you want your liqueur to be. A ratio of 1/4 – 1/2 ounce of good buds to 1 quart of alcohol base results in a super effective liqueur. For weaker marijuana, you may have to use an ounce or more of marijuana to a quart of base. If you don’t have homegrown sinsemilla, any other good-tasting, good-smelling marijuana will do. The taste of the marijuana you use in making liqueurs is important, so stay away from musty-smelling marijuana and from wild weed.
To Prepare The Base
Heat the alcohol in a double boiler on an electric burner. Remember, you can’t heat alcohol directly on an electric burner and you can never use a gas burner.
When the alcohol comes to a slow simmer, turn off the heat. If you have a candy thermometer, use it to determine when the alcohol has reached 180 F, and then remove from the heat.
Now add the Buds and let them steep for 30 minutes, then pour the mixture into either a large-capacity Thermos if you have one, or a couple of big canning jars with sealing lids if you don’t.
Add a pinch of powdered Vitamin C ester. Don’t use a crushed Vitamin C pill, but instead use pure crystalline Vitamin C ester available in most health food stores or pharmacies. The Vitamin C helps keep your extract base clear; without it you often get a muddy brown liquid.
Put the cap on loosely until the bottle is fully cooled, then close it tightly and set the jug aside. Let the liqueur mellow for a 24 hours with the marijuana steeping, and then decant the liquid into a fresh, clean jar or bottle, setting the marijuana aside. This will be your Marijuana alcohol extract base, or perhaps your final product.
The marijuana you’ve set aside should not be thrown away. For reasons we haven’t been able to determine, the tincture extraction process just described sometimes absorbs all the potency of the marijuana, while other times it absorbs most but not all of it, and the buds remain potent enough to make quite respectable marijuana butter.
Flavoring The Alcohol Base
After producing the tincture, you can decide whether to make it sweet, to add other flavors, or to leave it as it is. To make an easy, classic sweet liqueur base, take equal parts of honey and water. Heat the water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and stir in the honey. Be discriminating about the honey you use. Many supermarket honeys have little taste and sweetness. That’s because the bees have been fed on sugar and water only – no flowers. Many other honeys may have a taste that works well on toast but is a disaster in blend with the flavors of the food it’s sweetening. Good organic clover, sage, tupelo, or orange blossom honeys are wonderful. By the way, when measuring honey, if you first lightly coat the spoon or cup lightly with a bland oil like grape seed oil the honey will all pour right out.
Extracting Herbal Flavors
Now to think about which herbs to add to the liqueur . . . If you’ve had the pleasure of growing your own herbs, you need no prompting to use fresh herbs in every endeavor. If you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand and want to try a few good marijuana herbal liqueurs right away, there are many flavorings that you can use instead of fresh herbs.
Prepare the herbs for flavoring in the appropriate way. Generally, fresh aromatic leaves are lightly crushed in the fingers, seeds are ground till cracked but not reduced to a powder with a mortar and pestle, peels are lightly bruised with a wooden mallet on a cutting board. Place the herb in a heatproof glass jar and add a pinch of vitamin C.
Then, heat the alcohol as described for the marijuana base, using the same precautions – NO OPEN FLAMES – and pour over the prepared herb till it’s just covered with hot alcohol. Close the jar lightly and let the mixture set for 24 hours in the dark.
After the 24 hour blending period, uncap the alcohol marijuana tincture and add the herbal alcohol tincture, and the sweet syrup if you intend to do so, then re-close the container tightly and let it stand for 10 to 14 days.
Orange, lemon, and grapefruit peels are such wonderful flavoring ingredients. It’s always important to use skins from fruit grown without toxic sprays, and packaged without toxic dyes, because the liqueur-making process will concentrate these chemicals right along with the essential oils and essence of the citrus peel.
Fennel grows wild in many parts of the country, but nowhere so prolifically as in northern California. Marijuana Marin is an appropriate name for this mellow liqueur.
Take 2 tablespoons of sun-dried fennel seed, and crush lightly with a mortar and pestle to release the aroma.
Take the peel of 1/2 orange, preferably a ripe, sweet organically grown Valencia, and slice into 1/4 inch strips.
Bruise with a mallet, but don’t crush.
Put the fennel and orange peel into a jar or Thermos bottle, and sprinkle in a pinch of vitamin C. Cover the contents with warm alcohol, close the jar or Thermos tight, and set aside for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, pour the mixture into the prepared marijuana base (vodka is best), along with honey/water syrup to taste – approximately 1 cup will do for 1 quart of fresh alcohol – and steep for two weeks.
After two weeks, strain off the liquid and store it in a dark bottle in a cool but not cold place. This is a nice dessert liqueur with custards and pies.
Cannabis Creme de Menthe
It’s so easy to grow a little mint, particularly in the spring and summer in a cool, moist place around the house, that it’s hard to imagine anyone who can’t get some nice fresh mint to use in making this fine cordial.
Use 3 tablespoons fresh crushed peppermint or orange mint leaves, 1 tablespoon lightly crushed caraway seeds, and the lightly bruised peel of 1/2 organic orange, cut into 1/4 inch strips. Sprinkle all with a pinch of vitamin C.
Steep in hot alcohol for 24 hours in a closed heatproof jar or thermos, using just enough alcohol to cover the herbs.
After 24 hours, strain off the liquid and discard the fennel seed, the mint, and the peels. Add the liquid to the appropriate amount of marijuana alcohol base (vodka is best), depending on your own taste for the right proportion.
Then add 1 tablespoon fresh crushed mint to the marijuana base mix. Add honey/water syrup to taste, in the ratio of about 1 cup syrup to 1 quart alcohol, then set the whole thing aside to steep for two weeks. Finally, filter out all the flavoring herbs, and store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
When the Scots gave us Scotch, it’s unlikely that they were thinking about whether or not it makes a good base for marijuana liqueur, but with the right luck in mating marijuana to whiskey blend or, better yet, to the proper taste of malt Scotch whiskey, you can produce a fine liqueur reminiscent of Drambuie, the drink devised by the Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Smell your buds to get an idea of whether you want a light Scotch blend like J&B or a heavy malt whiskey like Glenfiddich. Then make of marijuana base using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds and a whole bottle of Scotch whiskey.
Also prepare 2 tablespoons crushed aniseed, sprinkle with a pinch of vitamin C, and cover with warm Scotch, and allow to steep in a closed heatproof jar overnight.
Next day, add 1/2 cup honey syrup, the steeped aniseed and its liqueur to the pint of marijuana base. Steep closed for two weeks, then decant, carefully straining out the tiny aniseed using several layers of cheesecloth.
Store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Many people prefer tequila to any other alcohol base for marijuana. Its woody aroma with a suggestion of lemon makes an excellent background for marijuana liqueur.
Take 1/2 ounce of fine buds and pack them into a 1.5 (or so) quart Thermos bottle. Heat 1 quart of good tequila not the cheap stuff, in a double boiler as described earlier, on an electric burner only, and using the same precautions.
Sprinkle a pinch or two of vitamin C over the buds, then pour the hot tequila over them, and close the Thermos. Allow to stand and blend for two weeks.
After two weeks, drain off the emerald aromatic tequila, and store it in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Don’t forget – don’t throw away the marijuana. Test a little of it to see if you can make marijuana butter with it.
Lemon Ganja Brandy Liqueur
Brandy also makes a good base for marijuana liqueurs, but it will do a better job of picking up the potency if it is blended half and half with a good vodka.
Make 1 quart marijuana brandy extract using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds, 1 pint brandy, and 3 pints vodka. Sprinkle with a pinch of powdered vitamin C. Heat to a low simmer in a double boiler – no open flames.
Add 3/4 cup fresh lemongrass or lemon verbena, lightly crushed. You may substitute the fresh peel of an organic lemon if you want, but the two lemon herbs have a nice subtlety.
Lemon Grass is available at many Asian markets, whereas Verbena can be easily raised indoors or out. Decant into a large Mason jar and allow to cool. Steep for 24 hours, then filter.
Add 3/4 cup honey syrup to the marijuana brandy base. Allow to stand closed for two weeks. Re-filter the liquid and store in a dark place.
Glasnost Chili Liqueur
Pour a quart of Stoly pepper vodka into the top of a double boiler. Add several buds or approximately 1/4 ounce Marijuana, plus a few twists of lemon peel.
Barely simmer over low heat for half an hour (no open flames), then transfer to a thermos and allow to steep for 24 hours.
Decant into a nice bottle, straining out & reserving the Marijuana for butter, and store away from the light. Label the bottle clearly – this is potent stuff!
Everyone expects Meth labs to explode regularly because the process of making Meth, while simple, is inherently vulnerable to explosion because of the chemicals involved or if, as often is the case, the operator is inexperienced, careless, inattentive or stoned or, as also often happens, the equipment is poorly made or the work location is poorly vented.
But for some reason, makers of Hash Oil appear to think that they are working with a less dangerous process, or that they have more leeway to be careless or stupid, which isn’t the case – a fact testified to by dozens of hash oil facility explosions every month, especially in states where Cannabis is now legal and so there is a surplus of waste material that practically begs to be used. Squeezing the last drop of goodness out of waste Cannabis leaf is an almost irresistible temptation, and that is completely understandable.
While making hash oil safely on a large scale is absolutely possible, given the right knowledge, equipment and procedures, in this short blog I want to address the small-scale grower/maker who is equally vulnerable to deadly explosion and fire unless they are informed and careful, but who are much more often working in a basement or garage where other people, often their own children are present.
There are safe and effective ways to extract the delightful properties of Cannabis from waste leaf left over from trimming, and the internet if full of kitchen chemists and their advice. I’m writing this blog to encourage these small-scale alchemists to think twice before just googling “How To Make Hash Oil” and then following the first advice that pops up on their screen.
Like the old coach says – there’s a right way, and a wrong way to do things. Here then is a short set of illustrations of what to watch for, illustrating the range of good-to-bad advice available on the internet.
This excellent article offers safe method for small-batch home extraction. It is detailed and the steps are all well-illustrated, and the results should please anyone who is willing to follow the directions.
Lengthy article that reviews a lot of different methods and is full of cautionary notes that should be read and clearly understood, but given the length and complexity of the piece not everybody will come away knowing exactly how to make hash oil safely.
This is a decent description of how to use alcohol instead of butane to make small batches of hash oil. The writer doesn’t seem to care much about the quality of the Cannabis being used, but the steps to take are well-illustrated with photos and if you follow the directions the method is safe. The key is evaporating the alcohol without an open flame and the writer’s suggestion of a rice cooker is a good one.
Here is an example of a well-meaning writer giving advice that can cause serious injury or death. Although the article has a lot of positives – it talks about using high quality organic Cannabis and being selective about the strains you choose – your first clue to the fact that the writer may not be totally safety conscious is the first photo.
He is illustrating the point that you need to work in a well-organized, clean space and the shot is of a very nice kitchen – with a four-burner gas stove! Later on, he goes into great detail about how to use a double boiler over high heat (on the stove!) to evaporate the alcohol.
There’s only one thing to say about this – alcohol fumes ignite, and they are ignited by open flames, and they can ignite explosively. This article is an excellent example of why you have to be careful where you get your advice!but
I hope that the following suggestion isn’t too self-serving, if you want dozens of safe, effective, and diverse Cannabis extraction methods explained in clear, step-by-step fashion, I believe that my 1981 book “Marijuana Foods” is probably still one of the best around. I covered dozens of natural, non-explosive extraction methods for producing Cannabis extracts for cooking medibles, and they are all safe and effective. In fact, even with all the recipes floating around today, almost 40 years later, there’s not much that wasn’t covered pretty thoroughly in this original book – the first of its kind, incidentally.
Dear Reader: I wrote the following words as the introduction to my book “Marijuana Foods” in 1982. For several years my life companion Lisle and I had been experimenting with Marijuana as a medicine and saw clearly that many sick people simply couldn’t stand the physical stress of inhaling smoke, even through a water pipe, which was the only smoking alternative back then. Not only that, but older people and non-smokers were almost completely cut off from the health benefits of Cannabis. Vaporizing technology was still decades away, and there was no such thing as the Internet for people to use to inform themselves.
So we did a lot of experimenting with extraction methods and food & beverage recipes – my wife is one of the world’s best cooks, especially when it comes to subtle things like balancing flavors and aromas – and I am gratified to see many of the ideas from this book showing up in the market today. I thought that I would share this “Marijuana Foods” introduction with you to show that the benefits of non-smoking alternative uses of Medical Marijuana have been a topic of conversation for a long time.
When I see all the great new ideas and new Cannabis products created to address every kind of health, happiness and quality of life issue in ways that Pig Pharma can’t touch, I love it that new generations of young people are finally making the Cannabis revolution so strong that it cannot be stopped. Rock On!
(from “Marijuana Foods”, Simon & Schuster, 1982: Chapter One)
Cannabis has been used for centuries as a medicine, and has held a central place as a natural healer and reliever in the pharmacy of societies around the world. America has yet to come to an appreciation of the medical usefulness of Marijuana large because of the successful maneuvers of the cigarette and alcohol industries to get a grip on both the political and the moral institutions of the country. It has been a classic maneuver, well executed and enormously successful, and it has taken over fifty years.
Frustrated in their attempt to impose a prohibition of alcohol on all of society, the forces of morality were quick to spot the far more productive target presented by Marijuana, used almost exclusively by the African-American people in the cities.
The powerful cigarette and alcohol industries saw this situation as an opportunity not to be missed. Knowing that it would be a mortal threat to their industries if Marijuana ever escaped into regular White society, because it would quickly supplant alcohol & cigarettes and couldn’t even become a profitable legal monopoly because it could be grown by anyone, they crafted a long-range strategy which after decades of work and the investment of billions of dollars has almost succeeded.
Moral outrage and self-righteous indignation at the distantly observed and perversely fantasized habits, behaviors and presumed moral degradation of poor people, especially minorities, has long been the habit of a certain breed of White people with withered souls. These people have historically tended to congregate in church-based prohibitionist movements. Recruiting and building this barely latent racism into a religiously sanctioned nationwide crusade against drugs was the strategy chosen by Marijuana’s adversaries.
In executing this simple strategy, the legal drug industries quietly aligned themselves with the forces of morality, feeding them with propaganda and funding, employing layers of sophisticated “foundations” to spare the moralists the pain of taking blood money, and together these evil sisters set out to rid America of (competitive) drugs.
Out of this strategy came the federal bureaucracy designed to “fight drugs” and deal criminally with the “drug problem” which the newspapers of the time defined in large headlines, displaying photographs of either Black people or Whites who were clearly low-life types, and stressing that even a moment’s lapse, a single puff, would lead to such as this.
That was scary stuff to the folks who had just suffered a decade of depression and now faced a worldwide threat of really dangerous aggressors… and it worked. The anti-drug laws of the late 1930’s marked the success of this tactic.
The cigarette and alcohol industries boomed during the War in every community of the world. It was cool to drink, cool to smoke, and everyone who wasn’t dead was alive so what the hell. After WWII there was no room for consciousness-expansion except via martinis in the U.S. because everybody was too busy pursuing the materialist dream of industrial expansion designed to keep the converted war production machinery humming.
The industrial empires left over from the last century, decimated by the crash and the depression, had recovered too well and made too much money producing machinery and other war materials for them to allow the factories to simply close down and people return to their peaceful way of life in the towns, villages and small cities.
Besides, farming and small town living was no longer very attractive to the millions of young men and women who had seen the world, survived a war, and come home as saviors and heroes.
In the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s, going to college and then out to work in rapidly growing companies making consumer goods for the exploding population of babies and families, these organization men and women never got high, couldn’t understand why anyone else would, and using the logic and “information” so carefully fed them by the prohibitionists through the increasingly pervasive media environment, judged those who used any drugs but alcohol and cigarettes as weak in character or racially inferior – probably both.
This is the environment we inherit today. Those at the top of our institutions, agencies and organizations are those who survived WWII, stayed straight, and either bought the anti-drug propaganda or cynically helped promote it, as part of a bargain with the devil in their rise to power.
They have inherited the mantles of power and influence created by the robber barons of the last century, along with the ethics and morality of those brutal humans, and are absolutely dedicated to reducing the people of this country to shackles. These people intuitively understand that the unrestricted use of psychoactive drugs would change society in ways which would make their feudal style of social and economic prerogatives and control too vulnerable to more desirable alternatives.
Marijuana And The Health Care System
All health care systems have a “delivery” component, a set of ways in which the benefits of the system are delivered to the people in need. When we look to the healing rituals of so-called primitive societies around the world we see that a consistent major difference from our own delivery system is the participation of family, friends and community in the “primitive” healing processes and their virtual exclusion from our own.
Scientists studying the effects of group participation on individual human physiology have long noted that whether through church, through kin-centered social activities, or just plain having fun with friends, the health benefits of socializing are indisputable. Such activity is known to speed healing, lower stress, and maintain good health.
Medical technical specialists have developed tremendous analytical and therapeutic tools, but until the institutions they have created for those tools allow the participation of those with whom the person is emotionally and spiritually bonded, the healing potential of much of this wonderful technology will continue to be limited and subverted by the physiological, psychological and spiritual effects of the stressors like isolation, confusion, fear, dread, pain, and despair which so many people feel while “being cared for”.
The Technodoc attitude generally downgrade this as a minor problem, to be dealt with by further medication, and indeed they do have medications which “de-stress” you – for as long as you take them. These substances interfere with the biochemical media in the brain which carry stress messages from mind to brain, and chemically sever the nerves which carry the stress messages from your brain to the rest of your body. They render your nervous system incapable of transmitting the signals which the major stressors produce; they do not change the conditions which generate the fear, the sense of isolation.
You’re still alone, still afraid, in a world full of things you never bargained for, but now you can’t feel the stress, or even register its existence on your conscious mind, so your problems are considered managed.
A New Marijuana-based Therapy
With the ever-present exposure we all get to the “modern health care system” it’s easy to forget that all this is relatively new. Until a few years ago almost all Americans dealt with disease, illness, injury, impairment and old age in the context of a family and a community of friends and neighbors.
This isn’t a good old days fantasy. Sure there were lots of people without friends or family who suffered and died alone – that’s one of the origins of the centralized health care delivery system, the urgent social need to care for the millions of people, many of them immigrants, who lay sick and dying alone in the city streets of the last century. Centralized health care institutions grew out of this core failure of the industrializing American system, when the very closeness of family and community which enfolded those in need was not available to outsiders and strangers, and when there was no alternative but the brutal poorhouse.
But there were also tens of thousands of smaller cities, towns, villages and rural communities where few lay alone, whether sick or injured, where aging people were passed from family member to family member if need be, but were kept, and where the medical profession was an enormously useful adjunct to the family-based health care delivery system but was not the primary caregiver. These days are recalled as quaint by some modern docs who chuckle about the days of house calls, though many wish that they could make a decent living doing just that. Marijuana therapies offer that option.
We live now in an age when care has become interpreted as skilled technical intervention alone. When a person becomes seriously sick or gets badly injured they are removed from their family in a manner that brooks no interference. Medical emergencies convey license upon lifesavers who rush you to the central facility where you are handed over to technical specialists, who then take charge as you are transformed into a “case” or “patient”.
Your family or friends, if you have any, are reduced to huddling in a waiting room where they are visited from time to time and provided reassurance that you are in good hands and everything possible is being done.
If and when the emergency subsides you are then passed on to other specialists who apply whatever medical technologies they are familiar with and choose to use in the name of standard medical practice. Their choice of technology and strategy is determined by many considerations, and their motives are usually the highest, but their methods are not to be questioned, and there is literally no room for family or friends to function in the role of caregivers. They can come visiting hours, and that’s it, because the institution is in total charge of care-taking, and their version of care-taking is how its going to be.
If the institution and the specialists can’t fix the problem you will be designated incurable and sent somewhere called a home, but probably not a home with your family in it, for “long-term care”. You generally won’t go with your family because they “aren’t able to take care of you”, meaning that there is no system to provide the resources which would enable them to “take care of you” at home. The systems that exist to provide and allocate society’s health care resources choose to allocate those resources to “taking care of you” in institutions which they administer and from which they profit, not to home-based alternatives which, while better and more cost effective for you, do not benefit them. They’re not evil, just doing what comes naturally which is surviving at all cost.
If you recover you are “released” which means you are free to go, after dealing with the bill of course. You walk out to rejoin your family, and maybe on the ride home in the car someone will ask you – ” So, how do you feel?” Well of course you feel “fine”, and that’s about it. Everybody goes home and goes on with their lives until the next time they crash or drop or break or pass out and then it all begins all over again.
But are you “healed” by all this? Your disease certainly seems to have passed, your bones mended, your new organ functions perfectly, your heart beats. But what about how vulnerable, how violated, how isolated you feel even behind the pills?
Given the institutional cultures of the current health care system, the isolation and emotional and spiritual deprivation of the severely ill or merely very old person becomes almost inevitable.
Family-Centered Marijuana Therapy
Family centered Marijuana therapy can be a powerful way for the family to re-assert its legitimate role in the process of caring for and healing the sick or hurt family member. Through the therapeutic use of the Marijuana experience families can draw closer, open up to the feelings and words so necessary for healing, reach out to each other and resolve issues, build upon the loving relationships which may have lain fallow for many years while all were healthy.
Those medical and therapeutic professionals who personally understand and value being high have an invaluable contribution to make to the healing of their own profession by working to bring back the quality of caring and life which is the hallmark of successful family-centered health care and which can never be provided institutionally. What is needed is a bridge between the institutions and the extended family in the process of caring for and healing those who are ill, injured, or aged.
The therapeutic use of Marijuana, guided and facilitated by medical and therapeutic professionals, can contribute to the building of this bridge, but not without a small revolution in which enlightened professionals and fed-up families and individuals come to some sort of simultaneous realization of how badly we are all suffering from an outmoded, crumbling and illogical system of health care delivery. Compassionate, creative, therapeutic use of Marijuana in a psychological and spiritual healing process opens new professional opportunities for many health care professionals who are personally experienced with the Marijuana high.
Why should personally enlightened professionals continue to submit to the whips of the cynics and moralists, those evil sisters, thus depriving their patients, clients, loved ones, friends and colleagues of the benefits of a holistic approach to Marijuana therapy which uses the powerful healing high, with themselves acting as compassionate Companion-Guides as well as medical professionals.
Considered, directed use of Marijuana is one of the most effective paths to healing for many people, and there is no question that it one of the gentlest, most illuminating natural agents put on this earth by the creator. To knowingly deny such a whole healing experience to the sick and dying is both sacrilegious and professionally corrupt.
Imagine the impact on the quality of the relationship and the healing potential if all parties to the process- physician, caretaker, family, spouse, and patient could use the Marijuana high to get past the kinds of barriers that typically isolate those in need from those giving care.
Wholistic therapies involving Marijuana would not seek to separate a biochemical “effect” useful in treating the disease or symptom involved. In place of trying and failing to control the psychoactive and CNS “side effects” pharmacologically or biologically in order to extract an elusive magic bullet, why not include the Marijuana high in a psychotherapeutically designed “happiness therapy”. Why not stop trying to manipulate people bio-chemically at these deeply invasive micro-levels and deal with the simple fact that whole Marijuana flowers whether smoked or eaten would, if freely available, be very useful for many of the medical needs of most people in a lot of serious situations.
There simply is no real need to make Marijuana into a pharmacological nightmare and charge people huge fees for institutionally controlled inferior variations of molecules found in every marijuana flower on earth. And even if scientists were to succeed in this absurd search for “the molecule” and “the pathway” which is the Marijuana high, the biochemical industry and the government would then be able to synthesize the chemicals and find the neurological pathways to biochemically manipulate other mysteries like love, happiness, patriotism and consumer behavior, and the arrival of 1984 will have been only slightly delayed.
I don’t expect this to be a problem , because the Marijuana high is not an effect produced by a chemical as much as it is an experience released by a chemical. The experience occurs within, with the impetus given by the chemical but moderated by the mind/body interaction, which is why it is so difficult for technicians to isolate individual Marijuana chemicals from the high and achieve clinically measurable “effectiveness”.
The experience which is partially mirrored in measurable effects like brainwaves and behaviors is embodied in the mind, not the brain, and the chemical acting on the body/brain does not produce the experience, it opens the doors of perception to the experience which occurs on a plane where complex activity leaves only slight physical or electrical tracings on even sophisticated detection machines.
As far as the machines are concerned the Marijuana experience has as much measurable substance as a ghost, and only those who have actually seen ghosts in the other realms would know when one showed up on their screens in this reality.
Archaeological evidence shows that non-western societies have known about the healing and therapeutic properties of Marijuana for thousands of years. Village and tribal societies throughout Asia and the Middle East have used preparations from the Marijuana flower for health, for relaxation, for stimulation, for worship, and for magic since ancient times.
Ritually potent high energy social interaction is a key to healing in these societies, contrasted with routine isolation and treatment exclusively by technical specialists in ours. Marijuana plays an important role in stimulating both interaction and receptivity in ritual participants, and therefore in the healing outcome. In addition, it is clear that these societies have long since discovered the pure medical properties of Marijuana in treating and curing both routine and serious diseases.
Through the use of the Marijuana plant in both ritual and medicinal context these more natural societies have found ways to put the sufferer in touch with those healing forces of the universe which are everywhere around us but which must be summoned and focussed before physical body problems can be relieved. This natural wisdom formed over thousands of years has a place in our approach to the severe health issues confronted today by millions of Americans.