Home Remedy Offers Pain Relief
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Author: Thom Marshall
Published: November 21, 2002
Copyright: 2002 Houston Chronicle
Contact: [email protected]
At 85 year old and in failing health, he takes them one at a time.
When he wakes up in the morning, he gives thanks and goes on to enjoy that day as best he can. If he wakes up tomorrow, he will give thanks and make the most of that day, too.
Something he does to outfox the blues is take a bath and "put on a good suit of clothes," with a pair of his always polished, top-brand shoes, just like he was going to work or going out on the town.
Then he opens the front door of the Fifth Ward home where he and his wife of 60 years have lived together for a long and happy time. And he sits on his front porch. Visits with any neighbors who care to chat. Soaks up some sun. Watches the birds, squirrels, cats, dogs. Enjoys life. Feels better for a while.
He said doctors have prescribed a lot of medicine for his ailments.
"I've got a table full of drugs," he said. "But drugs ain't nothing but drugs. Pills are going to work for a while, but that pain will come back."
What he finds helps the most, he said, is an herb he has used throughout his long life. It is the same plant his ancestors and people all over the world found helpful in a great many ways for many centuries. Its seeds were valued as food, its fibers in the stalks were made into sturdy cloth and strong ropes, its stems and leaves could be turned into medicine.
He said an older friend of his showed him how to treat a cold by boiling the stems to make a tea.
"That old man taught me a lot," he said. "He lived to be 102."
Breathing Comes Easier
At the time this friend died he was seeking relief by burning some leaves of the plant and inhaling the smoke. Which is what the 85-year-old said he often does.
It breaks up the congestion so he can breathe easier, he said. Also, smoking some "good clean weed" gives him an appetite.
Years ago, when he was a boy in Beaumont, folks would harvest the plants from the wild. They would cut the stalks close to the ground and hang them upside down so the sap wouldn't run out.
Times were much harder then. He talked of going downtown with his shoeshine box and earning maybe 70 cents a day to bring home to his mama. He'd buy a nickel's worth of rice and a nickel's worth of beans that she would cook on the wood-burning stove.
With no health-maintenance plans or money to pay doctors, the folks he knew relied on a wide variety of home remedies to treat their ailments.
And that wasn't all. He also admitted an appreciation for the recreational aspects of cannabis. Through the years he often smoked it for pleasure. But he turned his back on hard street drugs.
"I've been around cats with coke and heroin," he said. "Been around it all my life. But I never would shoot that needle."
He knows all too well the struggles and problems that come with addiction. One of his four children got caught up in the stuff and wasted his life on it and now is in jail again. The others turned out fine, with good jobs and families.
He stayed away from alcohol, too, because too often the people who drink it get violent or get sick. He said he never saw anyone get sick from smoking weed.
Nowadays, his herb comes from a middle-aged friend who operates a loosely organized neighborhood medicinal cannabis service. This supplier said he has for years provided marijuana to ailing elderly people and to younger folks suffering from AIDS and other maladies.
He knows there are laws against what he is doing but said he believes prohibition of marijuana for medicinal use is unjust. Said the laws protect the profits of companies that manufacture name-brand pharmaceuticals rather than accommodate citizens who seek benefits from an herb that could be grown most anywhere.
This supplier of medicinal cannabis grew up in the historic black neighborhood of Fifth Ward. He went to schools there and spent some time away during the troubled '60s, learning about social activism and neighborhood organizing.
Rather than follow a law that forbids medicinal cannabis, he said, he follows the traditions that established it as a useful herb that can bring relief to the suffering. That can help them make the most of today.
And maybe tomorrow.