Friday, June 04, 2010

The Lindsay Lohan Deathwatch and her Mystery Kombucha Tea

With the recent onslaught of celebrity deaths over the past year, there has become a virtual cottage industry of websites, e-zines, and street paparazzi to watch a celebrities every move. Everywhere they go and everything they do is photographed , captured and logged for our endless consumption. The “new look” for the cult of celebrity worship isn't looking for a new hair style or who has a date to the Oscars. The “new look” is how that celebrity will look in a coffin.

I must also admit I follow with a grim morbid fascination the lives and deaths of the Hollywood elite. I am signed up to the Rotten Deadpool, where you are allowed to choose ten famous people you think will die over the next year. The only rule is you can't kill any of the people on your list. I currently have a score of 1 thanks to Gary Coleman (RIP). I also frequent findadeath.com for my death hag fix.

The fascination with the deaths of the rich and powerful, especially if they are in sorted detail, interests us all. Ever since the inception of the Hollywood system in the early part of the 20th century, there have been glamorous stars dropping dead like flies. The first major Hollywood scandal was that of silent movie screen goddess, Olive Thomas, and her mysterious death from mercury poisoning while her husband, Jack Pickford, was in the next room. [1] To John Belushi and River Phoenix overdosing on speedballs, injected combinations of heroin and cocaine in our more contemporary era. You might think the Hollywood system would clamp down and put their stars in check to try and stop these kinds of things, but Hollywood is a meat grinder that can consume a person and spit them out. The sad truth is that a star is probably worth more dead than alive.

Lindsay Lohan is just the latest example in this 24/7 deathwatch. We've seen pictures and stories of her drinking, taking drugs, and engaging in all sorts of other reckless behavior. Now, in fairness to Ms. Lohan, she has never attempted to pass herself off as a role model for anyone. What she wants to do with her life, no matter how short she expects it to be, is up to her – so long as she doesn't endanger anyone else along the way. Which is far too often the case, unfortunately.

Lindsay Lohan has come up from the proverbial hard knock life of the child star into drug addled adolescence and adulthood with not a lot to show for it. But, this isn't Variety, so I'll get to what the readers of my blog are interested in with regard to this story. Both sources of this information come from tmz.com. As it is well known, Lindsay does a lot of partying. She goes to clubs and bars basically every night and gets drunk. What other substances besides alcohol she might obtain and ingest would be up for speculation. However, we do know she has been spotted in and around white powder on several occasions. This could either be powder cocaine or methamphetamine. She admitted in a previous interview to The Sun that she has experimented with cocaine. She also tested positive for cocaine in a urine test found by tmz.com.  Both cocaine and amphetamines increase dopamine output and give the user a feeling of invincibility and incredible euphoria. [2]

We also know she has prescriptions for both Adderall and Ambien. A combination of drugs most doctors probably would be hesitant to prescribe. Adderall is a drug of the amphetamine class and is prescribed for treatment of ADHD. It comes as a mixture of the L and D (right and left) isomers of various amphetamine salts which increase oral bioavailability and prolong the halflife of the drug to last throughout the day. Generally, the L isomer of amphetamine has been used for bronchial dilation to help with symptoms of asthma and congestion. The D isomer, dextroamphetamine, is much more potent in terms of brain action and is responsible for the euphoria which makes it a highly sought after drug. The amphetamines also block the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, which gives it its stimulant properties and its user a feeling of well being. [3] Dextroamphetamine and its other amphetamine counterparts were originally sold as diet aids and antidepressants in the 1950s and 60s.

In an advertisement for Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) for doctors circa the 1960s the following prescribing recommendations are made (click the link to see the picture).

Why is this woman tired?
Because she is physically overworked.  If this is the case, you prescribe rest, because rest is the only cure for this kind of physical tiredness
Because she is mentally "done in".  Many of your patients -- particularly housewives -- are crushed under a load of dull, routine duties that leave them in a state of mental and emotional fatigue.  For these patients, you may find "Dexedrine" an ideal prescription.  "Dexedrine" will give them a feeling of energy and well-being, renewing their interest in life and living.  Dexedrine (dextro-amphetamine sulfate, S.K.F.) is available as tablets, elixir, and Spansule capsules (sustained release capsules, S.K.F.) and as manufactured by Smith Kline & French Labortories, Philadelphia.

Ambien (zolpidem) is a hypnotic sleep inducing drug, not a barbiturate nor a benzodiazepine, although it acts similar to them. It is prescribed for short term relief of insomnia for around 14 to 30 days to get the users bodies circadian rhythm back in order on a regular pattern of sleeping during the night and being awake during the day. Using it beyond that period can cause addiction, as can Adderall, if abused or taken improperly. Both of these drugs have a fairly high abuse potential and users have been known to exceed the therapeutic dosages for these drugs and ingest them through other routes, such as snorting them nasally to increase the high that comes from the drug. Unfortunately, as with most any other drugs that effect neurotransmitters, both compounds will lead to tachyphylaxis, where the user most constantly increase the dose of the drug to receive the same pleasurable benefits. It is also interesting to note that the US Air Force uses this combination of amphetamine and Ambien for their long distance fliers. Adderall is known as the “go pill” while Ambien is known as the “no go pill”. Its used in this way to keep fliers awake and alert for long flights, and then back down to sleep from the use of amphetamine. [4] If it's good enough for the US military, surely its good enough for our Hollywood starlets!

Luckily for Ms. Lohan, Ambien will not show up in a standard NIDA-5 drug test, but her amphetamines will. The NIDA-5 is the most common drug test used today. It tests for the metabolites of some of the most commonly abused drugs: marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates, amphetamines, opioids (from codeine, heroin and morphine), and PCP. Since Ms. Lohan has a prescription for the Adderall, this would be overlooked on the test. [2] [3] [6]

So what about the tea?

Lindsay Lohan has been recently sighted drinking Kombucha tea. Kombucha is a mixture of bacteria and yeast that, after fermenting, becomes a sort of "elixir" with all sorts of acidic components that can possibly aid in increasing liver enzymes and increasing breakdown and removal of certain drugs and chemicals.  Although no studies have been performed on humans with kombucha, one study done with rats [7] demonstrated that it helped protect the liver from carbon tetrachloride, a now banned chemical with previous uses in fire extinguishers and as a CFC.

But, there are no human studies on kombucha tea, so its health effects are somewhat dubious, but it probably can't hurt so long as it's made in a legitimate facility and not homebrewed. One problem Ms. Lohan may have is that a byproduct created during the fermentation of kombucha tea is alcohol. Ms. Lohan is required to wear a SCRAM bracelet, which checks if the user has been consuming alcohol by testing if it has been excreted in their sweat. It does this using a process called continuous transdermal alcohol monitoring. Any ethanol that is consumed will come through the sweat pores at a certain measurable rate. The SCRAM bracelet can detect this at a consistent time frame and send the results back to monitoring stations via wireless internet. [8] So, then a question of whether or not the amount of alcohol in kombucha tea could trigger the SCRAM. It would probably depend on batch to batch and there would more than likely be an insignificant amount in commercially brewed preparations.  An article from the Mayo Clinic has more information on kombucha its sketchy benefits.

Overall, kombucha tea seems like one of those oh too common detox products sold which often times claim to clean built up toxins from the body and be high in antioxidants and other nonsense. That isn't to say that it isn't beneficial in some way, but for a person who might have a physiological substance addiction, she'll need more than this tea to help her.  Probably a more suitable compound with proven antioxidant and liver detoxifying properties like NAC would be better suited for her purposes.

Sources
[1] Anger, Kenneth.  Hollywood Babylon.  Simon and Schuster, 1975.
[2] Gahlinger, Paul.  Illegal Drugs.  Penguin Group, 2004.
[3] Adderall: Clinical Pharmacology.  rxlist.com  Retrieved 6/4/10
[4] BonnĂ©, Jon. ‘Go pills’: A war on drugs?  msnbc.com. 1/9/03
[5] Lindsay Lohan -- Sobriety Down to a Tea.  TMZ.com. 5/26/10
[6] Drug Testing May Not Solve Lindsay's Problem.  TMZ.com. 5/25/10
[7] Murugesan GS, et al.  Hepatoprotective and curative properties of Kombucha tea against carbon tetrachloride-induced toxicity. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009 Apr;19(4):397-402
[8] Wigler, Josh.  Lindsay Lohan's SCRAM Bracelet: How Does It Work? mtv.com 5/24/10

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to do cocaine...

It seems like everything fun in life always has its downsides.  Eating junk food makes you fat.  Having sex can potentially lead to STDs or pregnancy.  Driving fast in your car can cause wrecks and tickets.

But now, out of the blue, it turns out that all our wonderful cocaine is adulterated with a chemical that causes your skin to rot off.  We all heard in high school hygiene class about how doing cocaine can burn holes in your nose and maybe even you've heard or seen someone who could pull a handkerchief from one side of their nose out the other (which would be totally worth it, in my opinion).  But now it seems cocaine cartels are just getting sloppy with their cutting agents and are resorting to only want to make the drug look nice, but not feel nice.  For shame, FARC! Pablo Escobar would be rolling over in his grave.

In a report in the June 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dumyati and doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center discuss two cases involving women with a history of cocaine use who came to the hospital for help when they noticed purplish plaques on their cheeks, earlobes, legs, thighs and buttocks.
Their profiles were typical of toxicity with levamisole, the doctors reported. The medication is a veterinary anti-worming agent, approved for use in cattle, sheep and pigs. It was once used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and kidney problems in humans, Dumyati said. It's no longer approved for use in people in the United States, she said, because of adverse side effects.
But it's often used to cut cocaine, before distribution to the user, she said. "Almost 80 percent of the cocaine coming into this country has levamisole mixed in," Dumyati said.
Levamisole is a previously used deworming agent for livestock and apparently has some nasty side effects.  It was used in humans until the first part of the 21st century (which, as it happens, was just a couple years ago) until it was pulled because they found out it wasn't that great.

When you buy cocaine, you always want it to look rocky in texture so you would know it hasn't been too cut or adulterated with other crap (not that I would know).  But, apparently, levamisole is added specifically to make it look less rocky.  I guess the cocaine buyers of the world are becoming less educated.

That's a shame when you think about it, because there are all kinds of cool and interesting things you could cut cocaine with to improve its bioavailability, enhance its route of administration, give it more potency and so forth.  Probably a lot of the stuff doesn't cost too much anyway.  If you ever wonder into a  head shop to get out of the rain you may notice they sell large tubs of the B vitamin, inositol.  This isn't because the customers of these types of shops are interested in their overall health and want to increase their B vitamin intake.  Inositol is a common cutting agent of cocaine because it not only looks similar to cocaine, but it enhances the effects of the drug through some of it's weird mood enhancing benefits that are poorly understood.  Caffeine powder would be another obvious choice to increase the stimulating effects of the cocaine.  A cyclodextrin is a molecule that looks like a donut and an added drug can be placed in the center.  Acting as a simple sugar it absorbs very readily through the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth and helps enhance bioavailability of the drug, making delivery better than without it. [1]

For those who were so inclined, cut cocaine can usually be reduced to remove most of the adulterants, and levamisole would be no exception.  Depending on the molecular weight of the substance, just running it through a coffee filter might help.  But with all that trouble, it might simpler just to brew up a simple cup of tea.  Just keep everything in moderation!

Contaminated Cocaine Can Cause Flesh to Rot: Yahoo News 

[1] Tolson, David.  HPBCD Basics. 1fast400.com/archive.org http://web.archive.org/web/20050501073635/www.1fast400.com/a56_HPBCD_Basics.html.  Retrieved 6/2/10

Get a Free Gillette ProGlide Razor Before they Run out!

Courtesy of the misc section, we now have a bunch of links to the Gillette ProGlide razor marketing promotion give away and members are collecting free razors.

I got myself one for free and I must say they do shave very well.  I can shave with or against the grain and it comes out very smooth without cutting my skin all to bits and leaving me a bloody mess.

So, follow this link and pick one (or more) of the sites and sign up for a free razor.  It's just too bad that a pack of refills costs $26 for 8.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ben Johnson claims he was sabotaged

Ben Johnson, the Olympic sprinter who was caught using Winstrol (Stanozolol) after winning the Gold Medal for sprinting in 1988, claims in a new book that he was sabotaged.

According to Johnson, his coach was apparently trying to inform Olympic officials of the IOC about the infamous drug doping practices of the East German teams.  Although he wouldn't elaborate on the claims, he is coming out with a new book, entitled Seoul to Soul that will reveal the full details of his new allegations.


The East Germans, under the Soviet proxy state, the GDR (German Democratic Republic) used a variety of steroids on both men and women to increase their performance and help them win medals.  One of the most commonly used substances by the East Germans was Oral Turinabol, which was at the time undetectable.

[Oral Turinabol], as it is called, is a potent derivative of Dianabol.  it is structurally a cross between methandrostenolone and clostebol (4-chlorotestosterone), having the same base structure as Dianabol, with the added 4-chloro alteration of clostebol.  This makes OT a "kindler gentler Dianabol", the new steroid displaying a much lower level of androgenic activity in comparison to its more famous counterpart. [1]

This means Turinabol was a lean muscle builder since it could not aromatize into estrogen, leading to great gains in strength, without the effects of too much bulking -- similar to Winstrol.  The full story of the East German doping program is told in Dr. Steven Ungerleider's book, Faust's Gold: Inside The East German Doping Machine.  A very interesting read.

Although Ben Johnson admitted shortly after the 1988 Olympics he in fact did take steroids and did cheat, he is now trying to come out and claim that it was he who was sabotaged -- he felt that because the East Germans were doing it, it would be okay for him to do it and it should just be an equal playing field after all, a somewhat dubious argument.

Johnson insisted the banned anabolic steroids had not given him any advantage. "It doesn't make you run faster or do anything else," he said. [2]
Technically, that isn't true, as Winstrol is one of the most sought after steroids for use by runners for this purpose.

Win[strol] is also quite effective at promoting strength because it binds very well at the androgen receptor. Short term stanozolol use can promote drastic strength, a feat often employed early in a bulking cycle ... or late in a cutting cycle to prevent a decrease in performance. This combined with the red blood cell count-stimulating properties of its androgen affinity make it popular among track athletes as well in order to beget better results. [3]
So what's the truth?  We'll have to wait and see Johnson's book and if the claims he makes are plausible.  There is currently no word on when is book may be coming out and it is not listed on Amazon.com for pre-order.  But whatever comes out of it, history will still most likely remember Ben Johnson as the first major Olympic drug scandal and our heightened awareness of steroids in sports that we have today.  For the athletes of the GDR who were unwittingly doped with hormones of which they were unaware what they were or what effects they were having, there is a very interesting documentary called Revealed: The Great Olympic Drug Scandal which was broadcast somewhere in the UK.  Although I cannot seem to find it on Amazon, there appears to be quite a few good torrent matches for it if you're interested to check it out.

1.  Llewellyn, William. Anabolics 2005. Body of Science Publishing, Jupiter, FL.  2005
2. Fine, Larry.  Johnson says he was ‘sabotaged’ in ’88 Games.  NBC News/Reuters. 5/27/10
3. Big Cat. Steroid Profiles: Winstrol / Stromba.  Bodybuilding.com/Archive.org. Retrieved 5/31/10
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