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5% Discount on Legal Highs, Salvia Divinorum and Everything Else From The Coffeesh0p

Coffeesh0p Reshuffle Finished

It’s been a long couple of weeks. Not only did new images need making for all of my sh0p’s cat­egor­ies, but several import­ant dead­lines are looming just around the corner.

As the title says, I finally fin­ished rec­at­egor­ising all our products. Take a look! I dare say my pho­toshop skillz are improv­ing daily. I’ve basic­ally reor­gan­ised the entheo­gens and legal highs into their own sep­ar­ate cat­egor­ies, so people who want to legally batter them­selves don’t try smoking some dream herb and wonder why they’re not stoned off their arse. Also DIY shamans tend not to like the asso­ci­ation between their sacred plants and other, more suspect “herbs” like Spice. And rightly so, hence the reshuffle. The next big step will be to expand both sec­tions con­sid­er­ably.

For the legal highs section, we should be getting some new big brand smoking mix­tures and maybe some more pills. We’re hoping to expand the entheo­gens section the most though. We’ve got loads of new herbs coming, as well as some extracts of a couple we stock already. Very excit­ing, but a lot of work! Writing descrip­tions and taking mul­tiple pic­tures of everything is prob­ably a more daunt­ing task than rearran­ging the cat­egor­ies in the first place.

I’m still not ready to prop­erly advert­ise on E-Dot. I want to make sure everything’s top notch before I post about Coffeesh0p there.

I’ve also finally rearranged the legal pills by effect rather than by brand. Ini­tially, when I only stocked two or three brands, it made sense, but now we have so many! Someone who’s never encountered legal pills before may be put off by having to chose by brand, and would instead prefer to buy a product based on it’s advert­ised effect. Hope­fully now, we can expand these effect cat­egor­ies indef­in­itely.

What better way to cel­eb­rate all my hard work than a pack of Trip E, a pack of Spice Diamond and a massive free fire­works display!

On a more tech­nical note, the easiest way I found to move all the products around on the site is to first cal­cu­late what the product’s URL should be based on it’s product ID (also in the URL). If the script isn’t at the cal­cu­lated URL, it then for­wards you to it using a 301 (per­man­ent) redir­ect. Hope­fully then the search engines will con­sider the new URLs as the ori­ginal products and not new ones, so they’ll retain their rank­ings. As well as the search engine bene­fits, anyone that clicks an old link from another site to get to yours will be redir­ec­ted to the URL behind the scenes. This way cer­tainly seems more simple than filling your htac­cess file full of redir­ects!

In other news, I’m think­ing of running a com­pet­i­tion here on this blog very soon. I have some things to give away….

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged 301 redirect, coffeesh0p, entheogens, legal highs |

Salvia Divinorum Presentation Part II

As I men­tioned before, I got to give a 10 minute present­a­tion on Salvia divinorum to my phar­ma­co­logy class. It went down pretty well, so I thought I’d write it up for you guys! Click­ing on any slide will open it full size in a new window/​tab.

The first thing you should know about Salvia Divinorum is that it’s a very potent hal­lu­cino­gen. I mean, realllly potent. It’s name dir­ectly trans­lates to “Sage of the Seers” or “Diviner’s Sage”, so already we know it’s gonna be cool. Salvia Divinorum is a member of the mint family, along with other common herbs, such as basil, rose­mary and garden sage. In fact, Salvia is the Sage genus, which includes the common sage as well as S. Divinorum. This plant is native to one region only — the Oaxaca [“wahaka”] province of Mexico, where it grows best in a moist, shady envir­on­ment.

Salvia Divinorum found extens­ive use among the Mazatec, the indi­gen­ous people of this region. Their reli­gion is a blend of tra­di­tional super­sti­tion and a flavour of Chris­tian­ity (also super­sti­tion!) brought over by the Spanish con­quista­dors. They make extens­ive use of the natural psy­cho­act­ive plants and fungi in their rituals, includ­ing Salvia Divinorum, Morning Glory seeds and psilo­cybin mush­rooms. Salvia in par­tic­u­lar was used very much as a learn­ing tool to facil­it­ate visions, par­tic­u­larly in the context of healing or divin­a­tion (hence the name).

Salvia was also a common medi­cine, pre­scribed for such ail­ments as diarrhoea, head­aches and rheum­at­ism. It was also the number one cure for a semi-magical disease known as “panzón de borrego”, or swollen belly.It’s no sur­prise to see a dif­fer­ence in use between the Mazatec and the “west”. The major­ity of use in the USA, UK and other developed nations is for recre­ation, while the Mazatec adopt a some­what more “respect­ful” approach. Tra­di­tion­ally, salvia leaves were chewed, or an extract was pre­pared by crush­ing the leaves and con­sum­ing the liquid. There is no indic­a­tion the plant was ever smoked by these people, which makes sense — the active com­pound has a very high vapor­isa­tion tem­per­at­ure. It is only the western world who smoke high powered extracts though a bong with a tur­bo­flame lighter!

The effects are many and varied, depend­ing greatly on the amount con­sumed. Uncon­trol­lable laughter is perhaps the most obvious effect, but it doesn’t happen to every­one. Other effects include remem­ber­ing past memor­ies, dis­so­ci­ation of the body and mind, a sen­sa­tion of a force or pres­sure pushing or pulling on the body, usually in a par­tic­u­lar dir­ec­tion, per­ceiv­ing mem­branes or films or mul­tiple small tiles cov­er­ing sur­faces and merging with, or becom­ing other objects. This is in no way com­par­able to any of the classic hal­lu­cino­gens, such as LSD or Mes­calin in effect or dur­a­tion, as the Salvia exper­i­ence usually lasts 15 to 60 minutes.

The active com­pound of Salvia Divinorum is Salvinorin-A, a diter­pine com­pound. I know what you’re think­ing — “why should I care?” — well, you should! Salvinorin-a is the only known psy­cho­act­ive diter­pene AND the first non-alkal­oidal (or non-nitro­gen­ous) hal­lu­cino­gen to be dis­covered. It acts as an agonist at the kappa opioid receptor, which is also unusual. The other, clas­sical hal­lu­cino­gens work at the 5-HT2a receptor, and the other opioid receptor ligands tend to be alkal­oids.

Shown here is a receptor selectiv­ity profile, com­par­ing the LSD in red with salvinorin-a in green. As you can see, the salvinorin-a is very select­ive for the kappa opioid receptor and not a lot else, while LSD shows activ­ity across mul­tiple recept­ors.

Shown here is the pro­posed kappa receptor:salvinorin-a binding complex, pro­duced from various muta­gen­esis studies.An active dose of salvinorin-a can be as low as 200 micro­grams, around the same as LSD, making it one of the most potent hal­lu­cino­gens. But, as I’ve already men­tioned, the exper­i­ence usually lasts under an hour. Salvinorin-A does not remain in the body for long, with a half life of between 20 to 80 minutes in non­hu­man prim­ates.

So, an inter­est­ing drug, but is it also inter­est­ing clin­ic­ally? Def­in­itely! First off, salvinorin-a has shown promise in anal­gesia (pain reliev­ing) studies in mice. Salvinorin-a, when injec­ted intraperi­ton­eally, pro­duced an increased tail flick latency in these mice. The tail flick test is designed to measure the pain threshold — the mouses tail is laid out flat on a plate, and at one point along the plate, a beam of light is focused on the plate from under­neath, cre­at­ing a hot spot under­neath the end of the mouses tail. As soon as the mouse begins to notice any pain, it flicks its tail to the side, so an increase in this amount of time shows an increased pain threshold. This anti­no­cicept­ive effect is abol­ished if the mice are first pre-treated with a kappa ant­ag­on­ist, or are genet­ic­ally engin­eered to lack kappa recept­ors, which proves salvinorin-a acts on these recept­ors in vivo as well as in vitro, shown by the pre­vi­ous graph. To make sure this effect was con­sist­ent and really did show an increased res­ist­ance to pain, other assays, such as the hot­plate and chemo-nocicept­ive acetic acid abdom­inal con­stric­tion assays were done and pro­duced results con­cord­ant with anal­gesia.

As I men­tioned before, Salvia was admin­istered by the Mazatec for diarrhoea, but it has now been shown to prevent myen­teric cholin­er­gic trans­mis­sion in the small intest­ines of a guinea pig, effect­ively stop­ping muscle con­trac­tion.

Salvia may also shed some light on depres­sion. Other kappa select­ive agon­ists typ­ic­ally produce depress­ive like beha­viour in animal models, and salvinorin-a seems to produce a similar response. This sup­ports the hypo­thesis that kappa opioid receptor sig­nalling plays a role in depress­ive beha­viours, but there has been at least one case report where salvia divinorum was used to treat refract­ory depres­sion — depres­sion that responds to nothing else. Before we can con­clude any­thing from this, further work, includ­ing clin­ical trials must be under­taken. Either way, inter­est­ing stuff!

As we’ve seen, salvinorin-a is a bit strange, offer­ing us an excit­ing new molecule to play around with. Already, chem­ical tweak­ing of the molecu­lar struc­ture has given us a select­ive agonist for the mu receptor and further research might lead to many novel, receptor-spe­cific com­pounds.

Salvia has also shed some light on kappa recept­ors and their role in hal­lu­cin­at­ory dis­eases. If the kappa agonist, salvinorin-a is able to produce such intense hal­lu­cin­a­tions (proving the involve­ment of kappa recept­ors in mod­u­lat­ing our per­cep­tion), could a kappa ant­ag­on­ist help reduce hal­lu­cin­a­tions in dis­eases with prom­in­ent per­cep­tual dis­turb­ances, such as Alzheimer’s or Schizo­phrenia? There are many avenues Salvia Divinorum could lead us down, but if one thing’s for certain, more research is needed!

There are some great papers here, all of which I’d recom­mend, but if you can’t be bothered, there’s a bril­liant TV doc­u­ment­ary on there, Sacred Weeds. Def­in­itely worth a watch. Thanks!

The slides are avail­able as a PDF here: Salvia Divinorum Present­a­tion [836kB].

Posted in Pharmacology | Tagged presentation, salvia divinorum |

Coffeesh0p Changes

Coffeesh0p has gotten bigger and bigger over the past couple of years, stock­ing more and herbal highs, entheo­gens, pipes, bongs, etc. Decid­ing where it all goes is now more import­ant than ever. Organ­ising the product cat­egor­ies — the virtual floor plan — is increas­ingly import­ant for both ease of access and intu­it­ive shop­ping, as well as optim­isa­tion with the search engines. I think it’s about time for a big reshuffle!

Ini­tially, Salvia Divinorum was the only cat­egory in the sh0p, since I made my own extract, but since then we’ve added tonnes more. The next were prob­ably the Legal Pills and Entheo­gens cat­egor­ies. Here was the first problem — Salvia Divinorum IS an entheo­gen, so where the hell do I put it? Since then, I’ve always had Salvia in it’s own top-level cat­egory, as that’s always been our product of choice. The major­ity of vis­it­ors come looking for salvia, and the Salvia cat­egory, being a top-level cat­egory, always does well in the search engines. I’ve always been scared to move it to it’s right­ful place within Entheo­gens in case it sud­denly dropped out of the search results and I had to get another job for a bit.

But now, we sell a lot of stuff! Cur­rently, we still have a top-level Salvia Cat­egory, along with Entheo­gens & Herbal Highs and Legal Pills. There are more, but these are the three I’m think­ing of shuff­ling up a bit. When these cat­egor­ies first started out, I wanted to keep everything in tablets in it’s own cat­egory and any­thing herbal in the Entheo­gens & Herbal Highs cat­egory, regard­less of what it was. We now stock various popular smoking mix­tures, many of whom don’t list their ingredi­ents so are argu­ably herbal, along with a number of entheo­gens, like Guarana, that I wouldn’t neces­sar­ily call a herbal high. We also have a rather out of place Snuff cat­egory, putting herbal Kanna side by side with Snow Blow herbal cocaine.

So, this has been getting at me more and more recently. Also, it might piss off some of the serious herb­al­ists, who get per­son­ally offen­ded to see their entheo­gen of choice listed as a herbal high, but that’s not all. When I started Coffeesh0p, I had no idea about SEO, keyword research or any­thing else in that field. I figured “hmm, herbal highs sounds like a cool cat­egory name”. It turns out, that phrase, while cool, does not get a lot of searches com­pared to “Legal Highs”. A big reshuffle now might result in more traffic for this search term.

So, here’s what I’ll do. Raw herbs on their own will go into a new Entheo­gens cat­egory, includ­ing Salvia. Any­thing more recre­ational, like Spice smoking mix, Snow Blow and all of the legal pills section will go under a new Legal Highs cat­egory. Thrill­ing, I know!

But here’s the fun part. I decided it would be a good time to funk up the front page some­what. Maybe remove those massive ads in place a bit more colour for each cat­egory. Here are a couple of new banners I’ve been playing round with this after­noon.

Yes, I did painstak­ingly lay out all of those herbs, then sep­ar­ate them all again at the end.

One more tip incase you ever need to change your website archi­tec­ture — make sure you cor­rectly redir­ect your old URLs to the new ones. The best way I’ve found is to use 301 redir­ects with the .htac­cess file, or make sure your cat­egor­ies and products “know” where they’re sup­posed to be, and if they get called any­where else, they can 301 redir­ect them­selves to the proper loc­a­tion. The 301 redir­ect tells the search engines this is a per­man­ent relo­ca­tion, and so any benefit received from links point­ing to your old pages will carry over the new ones..

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged coffeesh0p, seo |

Growing Salvia with Science

What better way to skim over the sci­entific method than by talking about Salvia Divinorum!

Bman_​666, over at Salvia­Source, had the very noble idea of apply­ing a little science to growing salvia divinorum in order to dispel any myths or mis­con­cep­tions about it, and maybe produce the ulti­mate “How To Grow Salvia” guide for salvia cul­tiv­at­ors around the world.

Some of the vari­ables under scru­tiny are:

  • Natural vs arti­fi­cial light
  • Dif­fer­ent soil com­pos­i­tions / Fer­til­izer mix­tures
  • Effect­ive­ness of CO2 sup­ple­ments
  • Con­tained growing (with con­trolled humid­ity) vs growing out in the open
  • Will your TV kill your plant? [What?! — I suppose most sci­entific break­throughs develop from “outside-the-box” think­ing, so I’ll reserve judge­ment…]
  • Hydro­ponics vs Soil
  • Water­ing fre­quency
  • Misting the leaves vs not
  • Varying soil pH
  • Distilled/​bottled/​tap water com­par­is­ons

Noble goals indeed, but at the time of writing, Bman_​666 wasn’t quite sure what he’d be letting himself in for! The first page of the thread in ques­tion con­tained some excel­lent insight about how the results might be struc­tured within the forum, and some quick guidelines on stand­ard­isa­tion, which are both import­ant to prevent con­fu­sion and help mine accur­ate data. But there was one thing missing — repe­ti­tion, they key to any sci­entific study.

Perhaps they’re way ahead of me, I thought — we could all take repe­ti­tion for granted. Just to be extra vigil­ant (the, uhh, second key to any sci­entific study? It must some kind of many-keyed com­bin­a­tion lock, with iris scan­ners ‘n’ all. A com­plic­ated beast!), I posted my advice on using 8 – 10 plants per vari­able to test. So, 4 – 5 plants for the control and another 4 – 5 dif­fer­ing in a single respect (ie, watered with deion­ised water). It turns out they weren’t as far ahead as I thought.

At this point, I’ll just point out I had to explain the same thing to someone in the lab today. We were setting up cell cul­tures in order to add varying con­cen­tra­tions of a drug (ret­in­oic acid) to them to see what happens. For each con­cen­tra­tion of the drug (dis­solved in a solvent), we had a total of 8 cell cul­tures set up — 4 to receive the drug/​solvent and 4 to receive the solvent without the drug, as a control. Since the concept of repe­ti­tion seemed a less uni­ver­sal concept than I first real­ised, I figured I’d talk about it here.

So, back to this thread. My reply was the fol­low­ing:

Suppose your get set up with your soil cutting and your hydro cutting. If, for some unknown reason, the hydro cutting dies, all you can con­clude is that hydro kills salvia plants.

Or, say in 1 week your hydro plant grows 10cm and your soil plant grows 9cm (I have no idea how fast it grows; figures are arbit­rary). All you could con­clude from that is that plants that grow in soil grow 90% as well as those with a hydro setup. Now, sup­pos­ing you had 5 plants with each vari­able — the hydro plants grew this much {10,12,16,17,23} (average 15.6cm) and the soil plants grew by this much {5,7,8,8,9} (average 7.4) — as you can see this data sug­gests an approx 50% dif­fer­ence. Taking the tallest/​shortest com­bin­a­tions of your 5 plants, you could end up with a height dif­fer­ence of as much as 18cm or as little as 1cm — working with only 1 plant per vari­able can give you very inac­cur­ate data.

In reality, the ranges will likely be much nar­rower, but you should get the point. Even plants grown under identical con­di­tions will not develop 100% identic­ally, and that vari­able is one that you need to take into account, like any other (eg humid­ity). Because you can’t control that vari­able, the best you can do is elim­in­ate its effects by using mul­tiple data and aver­aging. You wouldn’t trust a drug that had been tested on a single indi­vidual, would you?

I hope that can high­light just how metic­u­lous you have to be with your research. Growing only two plants side by side is great for a fun, per­sonal exper­i­ment, but to further the col­lect­ive know­ledge in a par­tic­u­lar field, you need to apply a strict sci­entific method.

Bman_666’s main concern with repe­ti­tion was the number of plants he had avail­able, which is fair enough. But serious science demands a serious com­mit­ment. From an idea in the mind of a chemist, to an actual pre­scrib­able drug, phar­ma­ceuit­ical com­pan­ies have to spend hun­dreds of mil­lions of dollars on research, involving trials of thou­sands of people.

While the details may be a bit out, the Salvia­Source guys are cer­tainly making tracks in the right dir­ec­tion. If you have 10 or so salvia clones lying around, maybe you can con­trib­ute to this fas­cin­at­ing project? Be sure to get involved @ Salvia­Source!.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged growing, salvia divinorum, science |

More Shoddy Journalism

Happy Caps X-EHypnotic PillsSpace Cadets

[This is the first post by my girl­friend and Coffeesh0p partner Mrs_​Synch!]

What’s wrong with this article?

We can all debate until we’re blue in the face about alcohol, drugs, their legal altern­at­ives, tobacco and whatever else is a source of con­tro­versy in this country. My problem with this article, however, is not that I dis­agree with the journalist’s point of view (although I do). It’s that if this is what counts as journ­al­ism these days (on the BBC news website no less!) I am, quite frankly, shocked and dis­ap­poin­ted. These are some of the reasons I felt so strongly about it (I’ll address each point in the order they come in the article):

  1. ‘The pills or liquid’ — what? How vague is this? I know it’s only the second para­graph but read on and the trend con­tin­ues. There are no names of the brands, retail­ers or whole­salers they are refer­ring to. They mention none of the ingredi­ents they claim are so dan­ger­ous apart from this delib­er­ately con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­ence to BZP. As a herbal highs retailer in the UK, I can per­son­ally say that I know of no whole­salers that are willing to sell us any products con­tain­ing BZP. Although the legal status of BZP does seem to be a bit dodgy (the article said it becomes illegal in March, but I’m pretty sure it’s tightly con­trolled here already), as far as herbal high sellers go BZP is not readily avail­able in the UK. It is cer­tainly not ‘one of the main ingredi­ents in many products’ in the industry. This is quite simply a lie, and a demon­stra­tion of the lack of research done on the part of the journ­al­ist. Ten minutes on Google could have told her this is not the case.
  2. ‘Twenty-five-year-old Alex from Birm­ing­ham’ — Right, I see. So the whole sub­stance of this piece comes from a girl who got pissed, took EIGHT uniden­ti­fied legal pills, slept in a field all weekend and then got the shits. Come on BBC, this is really poor. The symp­toms Alex lists are also, incid­ent­ally, ones you can expect from your common or garden hangover. Admit­tedly the guy who sold her the pills was obvi­ously an idiot, but you get a great many idiots in bars who con­tinue to serve people who are so drunk they can barely stand up. I have also never seen a pack of legal pills which do not expli­citly carry the warning ‘Do not drink’, and by her own admis­sion she and her friends were already drunk.
  3. “These things are packets of tablets and cap­sules sold as herbal highs, but are in no way herbal. These things are purely syn­thetic chem­ic­als,” he said. — Yes, this is a quote from a doctor so it seems almost cred­ible, but again, the vague­ness of this point just makes it stupid. Yes, I’m sure there are pills out there that are advert­ised as herbal and aren’t. But cer­tainly not all of them, and there are a large number of reput­able retail­ers out there who actu­ally do give a shit about the safety of what they sell. There is one very obvious example of legal pills that ARE undeni­ably entirely herbal, and that’s Happy Caps. If this journ­al­ist had done her research, she would have found out in minutes that Happy Caps are cap­sules, not tablets (so not even any harm­less tab­let­ting agents), and that they contain ground up herbs and extracts. Hell, you can SEE what’s inside them if you pull the gel cap apart, and it’s planty and quite def­in­itely herbal.

Whilst this journ­al­ist clearly has an agenda (read: drugs are bad), this poorly written piece of tripe has given me no inform­a­tion what­so­ever. I’m always inter­ested to hear someone else’s point of view, and when I saw the title, was excited about reading it and pos­sibly report­ing on it for Coffeesh0p. Unfor­tu­nately, I was left dis­ap­poin­ted in both this journ­al­ist and the stand­ard of report­ing that is obvi­ously pub­lish­able these days. BBC news editors, you should be ashamed of yourselves!.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged herbal highs, media |

Salvia Divinorum is NOT like LSD!

Arrrghhh! We’ve all seen the media’s sen­sa­tion­al­ist take on Salvia Divinorum. I swear I’ve seen it men­tioned as “the next LSDand “the next marijuana” in the SAME article before. I’m sure it makes com­pel­ling reading for those con­ser­vat­ive types, wield­ing the banning stick, but come on!

Just yes­ter­day, I received a news­pa­per clip­ping through the post entitled “Concern over craze for ‘psycho sage’ videos”. The article focused mainly on those tw@s that think it’s fun to post videos of them­selves on YouTube smoking salvia, which is fair enough, but in approx­im­ately 250 words of ill-informed “journ­al­ism”, I can see LSD men­tioned twice.

Salvia != LSD

Why This Is Fucking Stupid

  1. Any­thing labelled so con­sist­ently as “LSD-Like” is sure to receive a banning from any MP wanting to appear “tough on drugs”. We all know how Gordon Brown likes to ignore sci­entific evid­ence when it comes to drugs, so I don’t think the fact that salvia divinorum is NOTHING like LSD will be men­tioned at all. Con­sid­er­ing that this amazing herb does actu­ally have a lot of medi­cinal poten­tial, is it really worth com­par­ing it to LSD just to make excit­ing reading? This is a sure fire way to get it banned. Arse­hole Journ­al­ist: I’m sure all those people with Parkinson’s will thank you! (NB: that’s not to say LSD doesn’t have any clin­ical use — in fact, it shows amazing poten­tial in curing addic­tion far quicker than regular therapy — shame no one wants to research it any more because it’s such a bal­lache to get per­mis­sion…)
  2. The public tends to believe it, and may get hurt! If that many places are report­ing its sim­il­ar­ity to LSD, then the unin­formed public will take it as read. Last night, someone sub­mit­ted an anonym­ous report on Salvia Trip, entitled “Not for me”. This bloke is a 36 year old pro­gram­mer, who used to be into LSD back in the good old days. He goes on to say that he’s heard about salvia and wanted a similar exper­i­ence. As you’d expect, he didn’t enjoy it. Thank­fully, nothing bad happened, but there is cer­tainly the poten­tial for some­thing to go wrong. This is only one report (and the inspir­a­tion behind this post), so imagine how many more people this has happened to. This piss-poor excuse for a journ­al­ist is going to do more harm than good.

.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged lsd, media, salvia divinorum |

Egyptian Ecstasy - Blue Lotus

Blue Lotus

The Egyp­tian Blue Lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, (also known as any com­bin­a­tion of Egyp­tian, sacred, blue, lily or lotus), has been called the ancient Egyp­tian equi­val­ent of ecstasy, but it’s psy­cho­act­ive prop­er­ties have only recently been (re)descovered. In an inspir­ing piece of shock­ing journ­al­ism, com­bined with insane pho­toshop skillz, I, Syn­chronium, and my trusty girl­friend find out what all this fuss is about.

Look at that image again. That same white/​blue flower in each paint­ing is what I’m talking about. It appears all over the place in Egyp­tian artwork, and now it seems it was the plant’s psy­cho­act­ive prop­er­ties that made it so popular to the Egyp­tians. It seems we still know very little about this inter­est­ing plant, however. Both the Wiki­pe­dia and Erowid entries say next to nothing, par­tic­u­larly on the phar­ma­co­lo­gical aspects. I’m cur­rently waiting for someone on Spir­it­Garden forums to get back to me about a rather more com­pre­hens­ive paper he found which focuses on the chem­istry — the only problem is, it’s not in English. :-/ More updates on that later, I hope. All I’ve gathered so far is it con­tains nuci­fer­ine and apo­morphine, a dopam­ine agonist.

So, the only piece of inter­est­ing inform­a­tion about the plant is from the 50 minute long doc­u­ment­ary Sacred Weeds — Blue Lily. This came out in 1998, so the only copy I found isn’t great quality. It’s totally worth a watch, though, so I’ve included it at the end of this post. Wiki­pe­dia has the fol­low­ing to say:

The series ended with the invest­ig­a­tion of the psy­cho­act­ive effects of the Blue Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), a sacred plant in ancient Egypt. Michael Car­mi­chael [hah!] sug­ges­ted that the psy­cho­act­ive effects of the blue lily and other psy­cho­act­ive plants estab­lished a new found­a­tion for under­stand­ing the origins of philo­sophy and reli­gion in ancient Egypt. Alan Lloyd, the ranking took a more cau­tious approach. After wit­ness­ing the effects of the plant in two volun­teers, all parties agreed that it was a psy­cho­act­ive plant. Sher­ratt accep­ted the new paradigm for the origins of ancient philo­sophy and reli­gion in his sum­ma­tion of the series.

Only one avenue remained unturned — trying it ourselves. Someone’s got to do these things, right?

Method - Two People

Rosé wine
Take one bottle of generic £7 rosé wine and 25g dried blue lotus. Uncork the wine and pour your­self a little bit — if you don’t, the plant mater­ial won’t fit into the bottle. If you haven’t worked it out by now, the next step is put the plant mater­ial in the bottle. Then re-cork, shake a bit, and put back in the fridge. In about three days (yes, three days; serious journ­al­ism and sci­entific research need to be planned in advance!), your wine should have taken on a much darker hue.

When the time comes, you first need to filter the wine. Generic coffee filters are great for this, but you can use a clean tea towel too. Just pour your wine into a filter slowly until only soggy lotus flowers remain in the bottle. I found the best way to get these out was a long pointy thing and lots of patience. As they come out one by one, put them in a sieve over a jug of some descrip­tion. Once you’ve got them all out, press them into the sieve to get as much wine out as pos­sible. Once it’s all filtered, rinse out your wine bottle and put the wine, sans flowers, back in the bottle for storage. Drink the bottle between two people in the space of about one to two hours. On Sacred Weeds, they also ate the flowers when they real­ised they had no more wine left. Bear in mind that they had to import these fresh from Egypt at the time, so I think I’d have done the same! You can totally eat the once-dried flowers that you can buy today, but they won’t be a nice as the fresh flowers. Just like Guarana, this is one of those plants that actu­ally tastes pretty nice.

Results

The wine taste alright. It’s more bitter than usual, as you’d expect, but nothing like dream herb or kratom tea. It’s easy enough to knock back, but if you’re a big girl, you can mix it half and half with lem­on­ade. The effects of the lotus itself come about at the same time as the alcohol — about 10 – 15 minutes after drink­ing. The effects are subtle and enjoy­able, getting more pro­nounced the more you drink. Relax­a­tion is the first thing you’ll notice, as well as a more talk­at­ive demean­our. Things seem more amusing and perhaps a little more enjoy­able. You will def­in­itely adopt a more cheer­ful dis­pos­i­tion!

I don’t know if it was the lotus, or if I was just knackered after a long day, but by about mid­night, I was falling asleep with my clothes on. More invest­ig­a­tion is neces­sary before con­clu­sions can be drawn!

Conclusion

Blue Lotus
Pros:
  • Easy to prepare
  • Feels great
  • Tastes pretty nice

Cons:

  • It’s quite pricey @ £8 per person.
  • It takes a while to soak

There’s not a lot more to say, really. I wouldn’t say the lotus made me ecstatic, but for an ancient herbal equi­val­ent, it’s not half bad. This is def­in­itely a plant I’d try again, and recom­mend to others.

Sacred Weeds

As prom­ised, here is the Sacred Weeds — Blue Lily episode. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

In other news, I’ll be launch­ing some com­pet­i­tions soon, so keep an eye out for chances to win loads of cool stuff..

Posted in Drugs | Tagged blue lotus, ecstasy, sacred weeds |

The ATA vs Jacqui Smith

Recently, everyone’s favour­ite Home Sec­ret­ary, Jacqui Smith, set a few dis­turb­ing pro­pos­als to House of Commons, fol­low­ing advice by the Advis­ory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (AMCD), regard­ing the sale of can­nabis seeds and smoking paraphernalia. Let’s have a little look, shall we?

The AMCD recom­mends invest­ig­at­ing:

“whether it might be prac­tical to bring can­nabis seeds within the scope of the Misuse of Drugs Act”

and also recom­mends that:

“The Home Office should assess the extent to which the trade in can­nabis paraphernalia might be more effect­ively reg­u­lated”.

So wait, every­one ignores the AMCD unless they agree with your agenda? Bril­liant! As if stop­ping the sale of king-size rizlas will result in massive, country-wide decline in pot smoking, anyway…

Enter The ATA

Nat­ur­ally, this dick-move is a very unset­tling one for anyone that sells can­nabis seeds, or smoking paraphernalia, such as myself. Enter the ATA — the Altern­at­ive Trade Asso­ci­ation! They describe them­selves as a “coali­tion of UK whole­salers, attempt­ing to stop these mis­guided pro­pos­als becom­ing law”. They not only provide you with a weath of inform­a­tion about the subject and how to keep your busi­ness safe (includ­ing updates about any future legis­lat­ive changes), but they also have plenty of retained legal muscle to defend any action taken against the industry.

They’re also setting up a website, Smoke​-Aware​.co​.uk, to educate people on the risks of smoking and the prob­lems drug use can bring. On top of that, they’re also appar­ently plan­ning to launch some kind of media cam­paign, but I’m not too sure what that will involve.

For a start, it’s great to see people not lying back and taking this crap, so well done ATA! Let’s hope we can get every­one involved — surely there’s strength in numbers? With any luck, these ridicu­lous pro­pos­als will be nipped in the bud before our gov­ern­ment start looking any more stupid.

For any inter­net-mar­ket­ing-savvy whole­salers out there, signing up gets you a search engine friendly, high quality link dir­ectly to your site. That can only help you in the search engines. On the down­side, they do require all members to link back to them, which auto­mat­ic­ally makes me some­what wary. But for all you get in return, one link back isn’t going to hurt. 🙂

Update: It seems herbal highs are under threat as well. Current Gov­ern­ment: “Let’s ban everything until we know it’s safe” — I can hardly see them act­ively allow­ing the sale of any­thing, can you?.

Posted in Internet Marketing, Legislation |

Salvia Trip

Today, I’m going to talk about my most recent project (apart from this blog), Salvia Trip. Salvia Trip

Back Story

Ori­gin­ally, most of the exper­i­ence reports came from Salvia­Source (in my mind, the number one salvia divinorum com­munity), but due to a decision by the owner (Para­doxic) to move away from the exper­i­ence and focus more on the cul­tiv­a­tion and the science behind it all, the reports were removed from the site. In a stroke of bene­vol­ent wisdom, Para­doxic decided to compile all of the reports in both a Word doc­u­ment and SQL format. Seeing a massive cache of free, keyword-rich and rel­at­ively unique content, I jumped at the chance to down­load the lot, determ­ined to do some­thing worth­while with it.

Picking the Domain

Using Google’s free Keyword Research Tool, I played around with a few words includ­ing “salvia”, “divinorum”, “exper­i­ence” and “trip” in various com­bin­a­tions. It turns out the phrase “Salvia Trip” gets approx­im­ately 12,000 searches per month on Google, and with only 138,000 com­pet­ing sites, some domain fea­tur­ing the words “Salvia” and “Trip” was going to work best. Salvia​-Trip​.net and Salvia​-Trip​.com were both avail­able, so I registered both of them, and pointed .com to the .net exten­sion.

Giving Something Back

When I was first tossing ideas around about what to do with these reports, my incent­ives were two-fold. Make a bit of money myself and give some­thing back to the salvia com­munity. Ini­tially, I had just wanted to create a place that the com­munity would be able to use and enjoy, while keeping any income from the site seper­ate. I had con­sidered a single “shop” page on the site through which to sell some salvia, but I thought that might be a bit tacky, and more likely to land me in hot water some­where down the line. So, I decided I’d put some adverts around the trip reports, and that’s when I real­ised I could combine both of my goals in a single elegant solu­tion —  give the members some of the advert­ising revenue! The user regis­tra­tion form now allows you to input your Adsense pub­lisher id, if you have one, so we can display adverts belong­ing to your own Adsense account 25% of the time.

Design

I wanted to keep it simple. Well, maybe I did. Maybe it’s also down to the fact that I totally suck at Pho­toshop. Whatever the reason, I knocked up a quick design and got things up and running as soon as pos­sible. My first real Pho­toshop attempt was design­ing the header — not bad, I reckon. In case you can’t tell, I did pretty much exactly the same thing for the header and rss button here.

Progress

So far, things seem to be going well. A few links have been exchanged and Salvia­Source now recom­mends all its users submit their trip there for comment. That’s got to be good, right? More import­antly though, how’s it doing in Google, the biggest, baddest search engine of them all? Well, it’s been up for little over a month now, and already we’re on the front page. No doubt I’ll talk about this site again in the future, so I’ll keep every­one up to date with it’s pro­gress.

Anyone can submit their reports anonym­ously, or by cre­at­ing an account first. In the not-too-distant future, I might be giving away some salvia to the top members, who have con­trib­uted the most, so keep an eye out for that..

Posted in Drugs, Internet Marketing | Tagged keyword research, salvia divinorum, salvia trip |

Salvia Divinorum Presentation

Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum

It’s been a week now since I started back at uni­ver­sity, and everything’s going great — we’ve dived head first into my first module, Phar­ma­co­logy: from Molecules to Man. This com­prises of 25% course­work and a 75% exam right at the end. The course­work is further divided up into essays, lab write-ups and …a 10 minute present­a­tion on the topic of my choice! Right now, I’m pretty certain I’ll be talking about Salvia Divinorum, as it’s just plain more inter­est­ing than any­thing else, both for me to talk about for ten minutes and for every­one else to listen to it. Soooo, what to talk about for ten minutes?

Although this will be a serious phar­ma­co­lo­gical talk, I think I can get away with a bit of history of it’s use and what the plant rep­res­en­ted to the ancient civil­iz­a­tion that used it. If anyone has any inter­est­ing facts, now’s the time to share them! But what about the serious phar­ma­co­logy stuff? Well, these papers are pretty good.

The first talks about the extremely select­ive action of Salvinorin-A on kappa opioid recept­ors. The

Salvinorin-A

Salvinorin-A

hal­lu­cino­genic prop­er­ties of this com­pound, medi­ated by activ­a­tion of these recept­ors could be useful clin­ic­ally. If activ­a­tion of these recept­ors is capable of bring­ing about hal­lu­cin­a­tions, turning them off (with a select­ive ant­ag­on­ist) could help dis­eases in which hal­lu­cin­a­tions are prom­en­ant, such as Alzheimer’s and schizo­phrenia.

The second paper is much more easy going. This one focuses on the method of absorp­tion and its effect on the exper­i­ence. By com­par­ing what happens when the com­pound is vapor­ised and inhaled, absorbed sub­lin­gually (under the tongue) and eaten, it proves that absorp­tion through the gut has little or no effect.

But what else is there to talk about? Any other papers worth a read? I might write up a tran­script of the present­a­tion here, along with the Power­Point present­a­tion itself..

Posted in Pharmacology | Tagged salvia divinorum |