Tips for effective supplement cycling

‘Cycling’ is a necessary step to ensure the maximum benefits from certain supplements are maintained. Most herbs (and other compounds not naturally occurring in the body) work best when intermittent breaks are taken. This allows the body to regain sensitivity and provides a ‘rest & reset’ period for the effected system(s).

Most herbalists recommend a single-day break every 4 to 6 days and a weeklong break every 4 to 6 weeks. With a busy schedule, remembering to take these ‘breaks’ can be challenging. That’s why reminders are available for all herbal supplements on the DREAM BIG website (Gold Membership required).

But what do you do when ‘taking break’ results in your symptoms returning or getting worse? While it might be tempting to end the break period, there a several alternatives to consider that may help you make it through.

Exercise

Hands-down, exercise is one of the best ways to upregulate neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. If you’re feeling down from skipping a supplement, consider getting outside for a run, hike, or whatever form of exercise tends to lift your spirits. If you’ve got anxiety coupled with depression, consider types of exercise that are both stimulating and calming. Some examples are yoga, tai chi, and Pilates.

Meditation

If nervousness, anxiety, or frustration are especially bothering you during a break, mediation can be a simple way to getting back into the ‘rest & reset’ mode. You don’t need a lot of experience to get the benefits of meditation. Finding a quiet place to sit and count your breaths is all it takes to get started. Before you write this one off, try this simple technique to experience immediate benefits.

When all else fails, do what needs to be done

 

How to get the most benefits from your results

By now, you should have a pretty good picture of which neurotransmitters to focus on, as well as the types of cannabis to best support your mental wellness goals. What happens next is mostly about preparation for starting your stack. Some things will be obvious (like ordering supplies), while others might require some consideration (like how to remember to dose at the appropriate times). Perhaps the most important step is to start out simple. In other words, don’t overcomplicate things. The goal of this post will be do help you do just this, while making sure the priorities are addressed. If done correctly, you should be noticing results within the first week.

Ordering Supplies

What you need, what you don’t, and a few conveniences in-between

Supplements

Let’s first be clear about what you don’t need…every supplement from your results. Eventually, you may end up trying most, but a good practice (that will save you time & money) is to start with a few ‘hopeful candidates’ and allow at least a week to notice the effects. With a little deductive reasoning, you can choose a few supplements that should address obvious deficiencies/imbalances. Reviewing the deficiency factors listed on certain supplement results is a good place to start. You may also find an applicable use in the benefits section (ie. ‘reducing cravings’) that could help identify supplements more suitable for your situation.

When it comes to ordering, Amazon is the best online option while Vitamin Shoppe is the  recommended local retailer (in terms of price, selection, and availability). With Gold Membership, you’ll see a recommended products section for each supplement result, providing you with links to the most potent & cost-effective options.

Cannabis Vape Cartridges

Sorry, but this is one that Amazon can’t help with (yet). You’ll need to pick up/order cartridges from your local dispensary. It’s always a good idea to check out their online menu before making a trip. You may even want to compare dispensary menus to see which one has the most examples matching the cannabis profiles in your results. If you have trouble finding the examples listed on the profiles, it’s time to start looking at THC, CBD, CBG, and terpene amounts. Don’t get attached to finding products with values matching the cannabis profiles. Remember that it’s more about ratios (ie. ‘twice as much CBD than THC’) than absolute amounts. 

Well, you certainly can go and roll your own, as they say…but there are several advantages vaping has over smoking that are worth considering. Foremost is your health. Vaping is (by far) better for your lungs, with pretty much no risk of causing tissue damage. Just make sure to watch those power settings on your vape pen, otherwise you could burn your throat.

Other big advantages are potency, duration, portability, and discretion. Because vape oils are concentrates, a smaller amount of cannabis is required to obtain the same dose of phytochemicals you would get from smoking. The effects from vaping tend to last longer as well. Finally, because vaping produces less odor and uses smaller components, it tends to be more convenient in most circumstances.

Vaporizer

aka ‘vape pen’, ‘atomizer’ with ‘510′ thread size

You’ll need a ‘vape pen’ to use the cartridges that you pick up/order from a dispensary. You don’t need to ‘break the bank’ here, but quality is important if you want to avoid wasting cannabis. Nearly all vape cartridges have a ‘510’ thread’ size, so make sure your vaporizer of choice is compatible. A good vaporizer should have a setting to adjust the power level. This feature helps conserve cannabis by heating the concentrate only as much as is needed for the current ambient temperature. Additionally, cartridges can have considerable differences in the metal tip size (the ‘base’). A larger tip requires more power to conduct enough heat, so being able to adjust the battery output for tip size becomes helpful for this reason as well.

If you have respiratory issues (such as asthma) that may limit inhalation with a vaporizer, consider cannabis concentrates in tincture or liquid-extract form. Avoid ‘edibles’ (ie gummies, cookies, etc.), as the rate of onset can vary considerably for each dose as well as the intensity of effects.

Here are a few vaporizer brands that have earned a strong reputation for reliability & quality:

PCKT®

https://pcktvapor.com/

Vessel®

https://www.vesselbrand.com/

Vapor/Smoke Filter (optional)

If you live or work in an environment where the smell of cannabis will not be ‘appreciated’, consider getting a vapor deodorizer. It’s a small handheld device that captures the vapor/smoke as you exhale. Here are a few products that work well at keeping your cannabis dosing discrete when it’s needed.

Sploofy PRO® – Personal Smoke Air filter – With Replaceable Cartridge
https://www.amazon.com/Sploofy-PRO-Personal-Replaceable-Cartridge/dp/B09136NM7W/

Smokebuddy® Jr Black Personal Air Filter
https://www.amazon.com/smokebuddy-Jr-Black-Personal-Filter/dp/B009V16BM0/

Pill Organizer (optional)

The one you choose should be based on your travel patterns. If you’re away from home often, a more portable organizer might be your best bet. Aside from that, choosing the best one for you may come down to your personal preferences for staying organized.

Journal (optional)

It goes without saying that what gets measured, gets managed. Keeping a record of how things are going and capturing ideas will go a long way in your process of changing how you think & feel. There are no rules or guidelines on how often to write in your journal. At a minimum, consider keeping a general log of what’s going on so you can more easily spot changes and know whether you’re on the right track. 

Tips for a Successful Start

A few more resources & suggestions to help you experience reliable results 

Address deficiencies before using augmentors

Everything starts with making sure the body has what it needs to produce a neurotransmitter. Cofactors and precursors are a great place to start because the combination will address a deficiency right away. Augmentors are not usually the first thing to reach for because they require adequate levels of neurotransmitters to produce maximum benefit. If you are experiencing a deficiency, you can still benefit from using augmentors; the point here is that they should generally be applied after (or alongside) cofactors and precursors to ensure a healthy response. In a general sense, augmentors tend to improve the performance of neurotransmitter systems, and they function best when cofactor and precursor levels are sufficient.

Track your progress

As mentioned in the Ordering Supplies section of this post, it’s generally a good idea to start with a few supplements and observe the effects before you add more. This should bring up some questions, such as “how long should I wait to notice effects?” and “when is it time to add more?” Answering these questions relies on tracking your progress. In other words, only by assessing how your behaviors are changing (or not) can you accurately determine whether something is working. For most people, a simple daily check-in is all that’s needed. You can literally rate each day on scale of 1-10 and record it somewhere. You’ll know whether progress is being made just by seeing the numbers change. As oversimplified as this sounds, it’s actually quite effective at keeping track of what’s having a notable impact. If you want to add more depth to measuring your progress, consider rating your experience several times a day (ie. rising, morning, noon, afternoon). If you have multiple dosing times, this level of tracking can help you more quickly identify the options with the greatest impact.

Make a plan to cycle on & off

As a general rule, you should expect to notice changes within 2 weeks of taking any supplement (cannabis is one exception). Admittedly, some supplements will produce an effect right away (ie. most precursors), while others may require an accumulation before real changes are experienced. Most herbal supplements reach maximum efficacy after 1-2 weeks of daily supplementation. Furthermore, herbs work best with breaks; you might consider taking a day (or two) off each week, or cycle-off one week per month.

If you aren’t noticing any benefits after 2 weeks with a specific supplement, it’s probably time to move on. Do pay attention to whether a supplement addresses a deficiency caused by factor(s) applicable to you (ie. ‘heavy drinking’) so that you’re not passing up something essential. For example, taking zinc might not produce an immediate notable effect, but (for alcohol consumers) supplementation is a good idea to address a likely deficiency.

What is a Personal Supplement Stack?

The Personal Supplement List is a feature provided with your DREAM BIG account. When viewing solutions in the Stress & Energy Guide, you’ll have the option to add items to this list. Using the Personal Supplement List enables you to create a reference for a daily protocol to improve your energy levels and (of course) your response to stress.

Results (as shown above) can be added to a Personal Supplement List.

[DRAFT] How cannabis works in the treatment of addiction

While mainstream medicine has not yet embraced cannabis as a treatment option for substance addictions, there is plenty of anecdotal (and some scientific) evidence to backup this claim.

For full transparency, I’m letting you (the reader) know that I personally used cannabis to finally put an end to my addiction to alcohol. It was actually that experience that really changed my perspective on what cannabis is and is not.

From that newfound perspective, I decided that cannabis was not the harmful ‘illicit’ drug that mainstream society projects onto the subject. In fact, as I learned more about the properties of cannabis, I began to see it as a plant with a complex set of chemicals that offered a wide-range of benefits to the user who understood them. For example, I soon learned that cannabis with modest levels of CBD offers greater pain-relieving benefits that cannabis without CBD. With that information, I started using cannabis to treat the pain and inflammation I encountered after strenuous exercise. This enabled me to be more productive in the evenings after a good workout. Nowadays, you can find top athletes promoting CBD for this exact purpose.

To get back to the main topic, let’s explore how cannabis works to help overcome substance addictions. To understand how this is possible, we need to be aware of the basic mechanism behind most physiological addictions. In the case of alcoholism, sugar cravings, and opiate addiction [for example], alterations in dopaminergic pathways are cited as a factor in the cycle of drug-seeking behavior. Typically, these substances induce a marked increase in either dopamine production and/or uptake. The body may respond either by producing more dopamine receptors or desensitizing the response to dopamine. In both cases, the brain now needs more dopamine to illicit the same response as before. The result an increase in tolerance leading to an increase in consumption.

The way in which cannabis alleviates cravings is through the action of a common petrochemical found in most varieties. Beta-caryophyllene (BCP for short) is a terpene that [when combined with THC] produces a strong regulatory effect on dopamine within certain regions of the brain. Without getting too technical, BCP reduces cravings by inhibiting the release of dopamine [1].

References

[1] He, Yi, et al. “β‐Caryophyllene, a Dietary Terpenoid, Inhibits Nicotine Taking and Nicotine Seeking in Rodents.” British Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 177, no. 9, 15 Feb. 2020, pp. 2058–2072, bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/bph.14969, 10.1111/bph.14969. Accessed 28 Aug. 2021.

[2] Galaj E, Bi GH, Moore A, et al. Beta-caryophyllene inhibits cocaine addiction-related behavior by activation of PPARα and PPARγ: repurposing a FDA-approved food additive for cocaine use disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021 Mar;46(4):860-870. DOI: 10.1038/s41386-020-00885-4. PMID: 33069159.

‌[3] Basha, Rafeek Hidhayath, and Chandrasekaran Sankaranarayanan. “β-Caryophyllene, a Natural Sesquiterpene, Modulates Carbohydrate Metabolism in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats.” Acta Histochemica, vol. 116, no. 8, Oct. 2014, pp. 1469–1479, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25457874/, 10.1016/j.acthis.2014.10.001. Accessed 28 Aug. 2021.

[4] Gonzalez-Cuevas, Gustavo, et al. “Unique Treatment Potential of Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Relapse to Drug Use: Preclinical Proof of Principle.” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 43, no. 10, 22 Mar. 2018, pp. 2036–2045, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6098033/, 10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8. Accessed 28 Aug. 2021.

[5] Francomano, Fabrizio, et al. “β-Caryophyllene: A Sesquiterpene with Countless Biological Properties.” Applied Sciences, vol. 9, no. 24, 11 Dec. 2019, p. 5420, www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/9/24/5420/htm, 10.3390/app9245420. Accessed 28 Aug. 2021.

[6] Foll, Bernard Le, et al. “Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor (PPAR) Agonists as Promising New Medications for Drug Addiction: Preclinical Evidence.” Current Drug Targets, vol. 14, no. 7, 1 May 2013, pp. 768–776, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23614675/, 10.2174/1389450111314070006. Accessed 28 Aug. 2021.

How Ready Are You?

Follow these suggestions to ensure a great experience at the event. Just remember to keep things simple and avoid making a big ‘todo’ out of the changes.

Continue reading

What to Expect

Here’s the TLDR; participants improve their creative thinking & problem solving abilities by complementing certain cognitive benefits of cannabis with other herbs & supplements.

If you want to know more about how we get there, this post outlines the basic plan.

learn the ropes

On day 1, we’ll be focusing on what you need to know to have a productive & safe experience. You’ll discover your brain chemistry profile and how to bolster cognitive performance using foods & supplements. After a morning of introductions & discussions, we’ll visit a nearby holistic nutrition store that carries the supplements suggested for all brain chemistry profiles. Once participants pickup the herbs & supplements they need, we’ll make a quick stop for lunch before heading into nature…

disconnect to make new connections

The remainder of the afternoon is spent in the forest and at the beach. We’ll be visiting the forest to get away from the distractions of everyday life, which takes place on a 2.5 mile hike through majestic redwoods & fern groves. During our trek through the woods, we’ll ‘pair up’ to discuss current ideas & challenges related to our individual businesses. This serves as a way to ‘stoke the mind’ into focusing on the topics that are relevant for the main activity. What is the main activity? It’s perceiving these ideas in ways you have not done before. We’ll be practicing the process to get there when we move over to the beach.

Get grounded & take it all in

A few hours before sunset, we’ll gather on the sand for a guided 60-minute meditation that’s intended to release regrets, resentments, & any other thoughts that have been a source of shame & embarrassment (you won’t be sharing any of this, btw). By this point, everyone will have prepared their physiology (with the supplements & herbs purchased earlier) as well as their psychology (from thought-provoking discussions in the ‘great outdoors’). Just before the meditation, participants will be encouraged to consume their preferred cannabis strain/cultivar to promote focus & mental endurance (two qualities that greatly benefit contemplative practices). There will be a short intermission to write down any insights you acquired before we embark on our return trip to the city.

Day 1 concludes with a brief discussion, volunteer sharing, and a review of what to expect on day 2.
The group heads back to the meeting spot in the city. Whether you’ve signed up for day 2, get a good night’s sleep to capture more new ideas & perspectives the next morning.

How to choose the right cannabis for the activity – Part 1

Whether you’re new to cannabis, you may be aware that many consumers are engaged for reasons other than medicinal & recreational. Besides a peaked interest by sports enthusiasts, cannabis is also garnering attention from ‘high-achievers’ & ‘productivity seekers’ for it’s cognitive benefits. These ‘benefits’ seem to be leveraged by those who need to produce a lot of ideas regardless of how much stress they are undergoing.

Activities that can benefit from cannabis

Contrary to some common stereotypes, cannabis can do more than just reduce anxiety & depression. In fact, some cannabis can cause anxiety if consumed in excess. The key to understand is that there are different types of cannabis that produce a variety of effects. Some of these effects can yield very productive states, such as experiencing deep focus, improved spatial learning, and a more active imagination (important for those ‘creative types’). The key then is to know how to choose the right cannabis for the desired effects. Before getting into that topic, let’s establish a few use cases so that it’s clear what types of activities can benefit from cannabis…

Planning

Pretty much any kind of planning. When you want to focus on several possibilities and compare the pros & cons, there’s a type of cannabis for that…several actually, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

Creative Work

Design work, writing, and most other forms of creative pursuit can benefit from a dose of cannabis. When you think about the kind of work that requires a mix of imagination & rationalizing (such as designing a website or writing an inspirational email), consider that these activities can see a significant boost in creative output from cannabis.

Exercise

Exercise, especially that which involves balance & hand-to-eye coordination, can take on a whole new dimension with the right cannabis. When you consider the ant-inflammatory and pain-reducing benefits alongside the cognitive benefits, these factors in combination can set you up for a much different experience when tackling exercise challenges. If you find yourself hitting a plateua in your endurance or you’re struggling to get over a bad swing in your game, the added ‘sensory perception’ from cannabis can be just enough to overcome mental & physical roadblocks.

Physical & Mental Recovery

Whether you exercise often or frequently deal with mental burnout, cannabis can step in to reduce the symptoms and speed up the recovery process. While ‘reducing inflammation’ is just one of the ways this happens, cannabis can also help speed the regeneration of bones and nerves.

Next Up >> What to Look for in a Cannabis Product

Now that we’ve covered the most common activity types that can benefit from cannabis, let’s explore what’s responsible for the most commonly reported cognitive benefits. Specifically, you’ll want to be able to identify which effects to expect from the available components in a specific cannabis product. In the next article, you’ll learn which combinations & relative quantities to look for in the chemical profile of a product in order to get the most effective results for the type of activity. This point cannot be stressed enough for those new to cannabis. If you start with the wrong kind of cannabis, you are more likely to dismiss it and thereby overlook the cognitive benefits. Better to read the manual on this one…hopefully this next post will point you in the right direction toward understanding what’s possible with the right type.

How to Prepare for Dream Big

First Steps

Some of the items below may seem like just basic tips for any event. Each one can still have a significant impact on your results, so please read carefully and consider anything that may be especially applicable to your situation.

Physical

Reduce alcohol intake the week before. The goal here is reduce alcohol consumption to almost zero by the 3 days before the event. In other words, you don’t need to totally avoid alcohol for a week, but a gradual reduction to the point that you’re only consuming about 1 drink/day or less is ideal. Alcohol disrupts dopamine levels and cause a deficit for days following consumption. It’s important that your dopamine levels are healthy leading up to the event, and since it takes most people a few days to get back to their baseline, starting a week early is recommended.

Reduce caffeine intake the day before. In the case of caffeine, you’ll want to give your body about 24 hours to metabolize and expel most of what’s in your system. This is important because caffeine binds to some of the same receptors as cannabis in the brain, and ideally you want more of those receptors available to get the best results. Can you have a cup of coffee the day before? Something with less caffeine is (like tea) is probably a better option, and some caffeine is actually recommended to avoid withdrawal symptoms (such as headaches). If you’re an infrequent consumer, then consider completely avoiding it the day before.

Reduce sugar intake the day before. Similarly to alcohol and caffeine, sugar can mess with your dopamine levels, so its best to limit intake starting the day before.

Reduce cannabis consumption the day before. This recommendation only applies if you are a daily consumer. Bottom line is you’ll want to allow enough time for certain receptors in the brain to ‘down-regulate’ (which can be thought of as a ‘cool down’ period from THC).

Boost vitamin D levels. Whether you decide to get more sunshine or take a supplement, getting more vitamin D can make a huge difference in your experience. Another good reason to reduce alcohol and caffeine is that they deplete vitamin D. Your brain relies on vitamin D for dopamine production, so once again we want to encourage healthy levels of this important neurotransmitter.

Emotional

Disengage from information that tends to ‘disturb’ you. If you regularly read the news and you can notice that it’s often a source of frustration, anger, or even hopelessness, this would be something to consider ‘tuning out’ for a few days.. Also consider postponing anything that tends to stir-up your emotions or is otherwise ‘hard to put down’. Examples are binge watching/reading, marathon phone calls, etc.

Mental

Plan to get ample rest at least the 3 days before the event. If you’re currently struggling with mild-to-moderate insomnia, refer to your assessment results for recommendations. If those don’t seem to work in your situation, reach out via the live chat on the support page.

Schedule time for rest each evening after the event. You’ll be outdoors doing a lot of walking, so expect to be fairly tired and ready for a good night’s sleep earlier than your typical bedtime. It’s strongly recommended to keep your schedule clear on those evenings so you can unwind and decompress from the day’s events.

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* If you take cannabis for medical reasons and feel that abstaining from cannabis may be problematic for your condition, consider scheduling fewer doses to be taken earlier in the day.