Posted by: terrapraeta | September 16, 2009

Indian Tobacco

Smokin’ in the boys room
Smokin’ in the boys room
I tell you I was Smokin’ in the boys room
Smokin’ in the boys room
Hey, Teacher don’t you fill me up with your rules
Everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school

Motley Crue, Smoking in the Boys Room

I have to admit it – I’m a smoker. E-Prime or not, I AM a smoker, not just someone who smokes.

I should explain that. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about smoking and personality types in The Tipping Point. Turns out there is an amazing correlation: he talks about three basic personality types. The first, tend to try smoking and hate it – or never try it. These people have virtually no tolerance for nicotine and so dislike it absolutely. The second have a little tolerance, so if they ever start smoking they become social smokers – they can take it or leave it, usually quit as they become adults, or only smoke in certain social situations. They never become addicted. The third and final category has a high tolerance for nicotine. They quickly become addicts because their body absorbs the nicotine and develops a tolerance, leading to more desire to smoke, more often… it becomes a vicious circle.

The correlation is this: that third category tends to be the movers, the shakers, the social keypins. I’ve spoken before of never seeing myself this way: and I am not, as is often the case, the “life of the party” as many in the third category are: but I am a connector. I tend to create, instigate, the social atmosphere… I throw the parties, I pull divergent people together and as a result instigate a lot of social relationships.

So, as I said, I’m a smoker.

But what I really want to talk about is getting myself free of the tobacco companies.

I live in central Colorado and that gives me a unique opportunity. Traditional Indian Tobacco is a blend: tobacco, red willow bark, mullien and kinnikinnick. All of those plants, save tobacco grow here wild. I already have bags of drying mullien and kinnikinnick. This winter I need to go and collect myself some red willow, then I’ll be set. My plan is to collect enough that I can buy bulk tobacco and a cigarette roller (I hate filterless cigarettes) so that I can mix and roll my cigs once a week and be all set.

My big question – the one thing I will have to see once I get up and rolling – is whether I will be able to modify my addiction levels in the process. If I can switch over and smoke less, that is the eventual goal. Partially, I expect that will depend on the native properties of each of these plants. None of them are euphoric (except tobacco) or hallucinatory so this won’t be a scaling up of my “drug” intake in any way. But the wild plants do each have certain properties that should make me overall healthier.

Mullien is a native american lung ailment treatment. I’ve been smoking it alone since I moved here, but it can be pretty harsh. It acts to dry out the bronchial passageways allowing you to clear them out (yes, yes – cough up all that s**t) and eventually breath much easier. But only smoking it occasionally, it makes it worse, making your lungs feel heavy and congested. And it becomes harsher as it gets dryer – so nearly fresh mullien is very tasty and soothing when smoked frequently – but year old mullien kinda hurts when it is smoked straight.

Red willow, while less concentrated than white willow, contains salicylic acid: aspirin. So it acts as a pain reliever and as an anti-inflammatory. In combination with the mullien, I suspect this could be very useful.

Kinnikinnick (or bear berry, uva ursii) is a low growing evergreen looking vine. As a tea it is used as a diuretic to treat any number of ailments and it can be mixed into a cream for use in wound treatment. I haven’t yet found anything solid to suggest what role it might play in the tobacco blend: aside from the possibility that it may help heal any damage caused by the drying of the lungs by the mullien. We’ll see once I get the blend composed and try it as my regular, daily smokable. Wish me luck!

** According to Peterson’s Guide, Indian Tobacco is made with Red-Ossier Dogwood inner bark as opposed to Red Willow. I will have to look into it further, but I got my information from a mountian man/regular participant and trained shaman in a local Indian Tribe. So for now, I’m going with his information.


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