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Whether you’re leaning away from tobacco or looking for herbal blends to add to your cannabis joints, navigating the world of smokable herbs can be intimidating. What herbs can you smoke safely? And how do you make good herbal smoking blends?
Herbal cigarettes are a growing trend around the world, and products like clove cigarettes and pre-rolled herbal blends are popping up more frequently. Unfortunately, many of these products may still contain tobacco, nicotine, or other unwanted chemicals, so it’s best to do it yourself.
If you’re ready to roll up a fragrant blend of smokable herbs but unsure where to start, here’s what you need to know first:
Most herbs that are safe to consume are safe to smoke, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to smoke them. When considering which herbs you can smoke, there are several things to take into account, including safety, flavor, therapeutic benefits, and accessibility.
First, of course, you should ensure that the herbs you choose are not only safe for consumption, but can safely be burned and inhaled. Many herbs fit this description, but others (like hemlock and foxglove) may be toxic to humans.
Next, consider the flavor profile of the herbs you choose. Some herbs take on a full-bodied flavor and produce a thick, herbal smoke, while others are mild and easy on the lungs. Some herbs have a more floral, sweet, or spicy aroma than others. You may find herbs that you enjoy to smoke straight-up, and others that you like to blend to create the perfect smoking flavor profile.
Finally, take a look at the general effects associated with the herbs. Many herbs have very mild effects, if any, but some are inherently energizing or relaxing. It is possible for certain herbs to affect appetite, energy levels, and sleep, too, so it’s important to understand these possibilities before you start creating herbal smoking blends.
Let’s dig into the different herbs you can smoke and the reasons you may choose different herbs, and then we’ll discuss how to create your own smoking blends below:
Current research reveres mullein as a potent medicinal herb with a multitude of potential benefits, but most significantly, smoking mullein is associated with improved lung health, possibly making it a good alternative to cigarettes. Some reports suggest that it can help to soothe a cough, even if it sounds a bit counterintuitive. Mullein produces a light smoke that's easy on the lungs and nearly flavorless, which makes it a good base for building a flavorful smoke blend.
Coltsfoot is another lung-supporting herb that acts as an expectorant, meaning it may help clear mucus from the body. It’s also a mild herb with a neutral flavor, but it can produce a harsh smoke output when used in large quantities, so it’s best when used as a small part of an herbal blend instead of as a base.
Rosemary is an herb from the mint family that’s well-known for its potent aromatics, but it may also offer some potential antioxidant benefits that make it useful for supporting lung health. Some reports even refer to it as an expectorant, so it may also help to clear out the lungs. Truly, there are many potential benefits to smoking rosemary, but it’s often enjoyed for its fragrant, minty kick.
According to research, white horehound is a potent anti-inflammatory herb when used to manage respiratory inflammation. Traditionally, it has been used to help treat lung conditions like whooping cough and asthma, though more research is needed to understand if or how it may work. These benefits are most often attributed to its marrubiin content, which may help it act as an expectorant and could also stimulate appetite.
Horehound is known for its deep, bitter, woodsy flavor that can add boldness to smoking blends.
Korean ginseng has been used medicinally for centuries for supporting energy and mental function, but its potential benefits for the lungs are not as well known. According to some research, it may help to dilate blood vessels in the lungs to support deeper breathing. Other reports suggest that it cleanses the lungs and adrenals and acts as an adaptogen to support a healthy stress response.
Ginseng is known to have a mild menthol profile and a subtle sweetness. It could be smoked on its own or added to mild blends to add a fragrant, sweet flair.
Lobelia, traditionally called Indian tobacco, has a lengthy history of use as an herbal remedy for lung-related conditions like a cough, asthma, or pneumonia.
Some reports suggest that lobelia can lightly mimic the effects of nicotine, making it a great herb for weaning down from traditional cigarettes. It’s also commonly regarded as an expectorant that may help remove toxins from the body, so much so that it’s been previously used in large to help induce vomiting, yearning it the nickname “puke weed.”
Lobelia tastes similar to tobacco and offers a full-bodied smoke.
Red Raspberry Leaf is another herb that can help to counter the effects of cigarette use, and some research suggests that it may help to counter the effects of nicotine poisoning. Red Raspberry Leaf is a sedative herb that can help produce the same calming effect as nicotine, so it may be useful for managing the “come down” from tobacco products.
As a smoking herb, it’s mildly flavored and fluffy, producing a light smoke. It may be useful as a base for creating a blend with more flavorful herbs.
Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin to cannabis (marijuana) that carries a slew of therapeutic effects thanks to its high CBD content. Depending on the terpene profile of the particular hemp strain you choose, you can enjoy relaxing benefits of uplifting effects. Commonly, though, CBD is thought to have calming benefits that may help regulate the endocannabinoid system.
Of course, with hemp-derived THC products like Delta-8 and THC-O on the market, you can even enjoy a hemp smoke that’s mildly psychoactive, but federally legal and able to be shipped to your door. Check out our Elev8 Collection to learn more.
Hemp has the same flavor profile as high-THC cannabis products–grassy and sometimes floral, but the depth and direction of the aroma depends on the particular hemp strain you choose.
Hyssop has been smoked for centuries in order to reap its calming benefits. Some reports also claim that hyssop can stimulate focus and help to clear stress and toxins from the body, potentially by inducing sweating, so you may want to smoke it only in small amounts.
Hyssop produces a medium-body smoke with floral undertones and minty notes, sort of like a menthol-lavender.
Mugwort is one of the herbs on this list that's technically psychotropic, although the effects are minimal and can be gently relaxing when used in mild doses. Some reports claim that mugwort can invite vivid dreams when smoked before bed. In fact, current evidence suggests that mugwort has a wide range of potential medicinal benefits, from managing nausea to treating epilepsy, bronchitis, and more.
This herb produces a light smoke with an earthy, sweet flavor and makes a good base for herbal blends.
As an herbal supplement, St. John’s Wort is frequently used to manage depression, although evidence is limited. Historically, this herb has been used to help stabilize mood and lift spirits, and is even mildly sedating, which could potentially make it good for managing anxiety. Be warned that it may interact with other medications, and you should always consult your doctor before using herbal remedies.
Skullcap is frequently regarded as an anxiety-reducing herb thanks to its relaxing benefits. It also makes a good nightcap that can help lull you to sleep, which may make it a potential treatment for managing insomnia.
Skullcap is technically a member of the mint family, but it's not minty at all. It has a bitter, earthy taste that's great for adding depth to smoking blends.
To create your own smoking blend, you’ll need three components:
It's possible, and likely in many cases, that certain herbs may overlap multiple components. Still, this gives you a good idea of how to configure a great smoking blend.
For example, you may choose mullein, raspberry leaf, or even hemp flower as a base for your herbal blend. Then, you would choose an herb like skullcap to add body to the smoke and create a calming effect, or something like lobelia for detoxifying benefits and effects that can also help mimic the feel of a traditional cigarette. Finally, choose an herb like hyssop for a floral, minty flavor, or rosemary for a stronger, spicy kick.
You’ll probably need to experiment with the amount of each herb you add to your smoking blend, so start by mixing a small batch, and then alter it as needed until you find your perfect herbal formula.
You want your smoking blend to retain a bit of moisture, so make sure you store it in an airtight container after grinding and blending freshly dried herbs.
It's also important to note that although herbal cigarettes may be a safer option than the tar and nicotine in traditional cigarettes, smoking comes with its own set of risks. Inhaling smoke has a negative impact on the lungs, and chronic smoking may have a heavy impact, even if you are smoking herbs.
Some people believe that vaping has less impact, and many herbs can be used in a dry herb vaporizer to create a smoking experience that’s fragrant and flavorful without being as harsh on the lungs. Keep in mind that this article is for educational purposes only and you should always talk to your doctor before using any herb with therapeutic intent.
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