Homemade Herbal Smokes
Herbal smoking blends contain herbs chosen for their physiological effects and flavor. Herbal smokes are marketed as tobacco or marijuana alternatives, or may claim to have healing or psychoactive properties. Herbal smoking blends can be made using household herbs and other common ingredients.
Herbs with stimulating properties are used to boost bodily functions and alertness. They work by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, which provides the mind and body with feelings of energy and vitality.
Tobacco is among the most well-known stimulating herbs. It contains nicotine, a stimulating chemical with addictive properties. There are many varieties of tobacco available, such as corojo, which is used to make cigars, and the more common bright leaf variety. Other household herbs with stimulating properties include rosemary, peppermint and ginger.
Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is an herbal stimulant with particularly intense effects. According to Sutherlandia.com, the active compound in kanna is mesembrine—a chemical that prevents the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Due to its effects on serotonin, kanna should not be taken by those on SSRI antidepressants. To make an invigorating stimulant blend, mix two parts tobacco with one part rosemary and a dash of peppermint to taste.
Relaxing herbs are prized for their ability to fight anxiety, tension and insomnia. They work by slowing heart rate and breathing, bringing about a relaxed feeling.
Valerian root is a sedating herb available over the counter in most health food stores. According to Anesthesia-Analgesia.org, valerian’s active ingredient—valerenic acid—affects levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is responsible for states of relaxation and calmness. Valerian complements other sedating herbs such as lavender and catnip.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is another sedative herb. Its extract is commonly used in smoking blends and provides a relaxing, non-addictive alternative to opium. Other herbs with sedating properties include passionflower, hops, blue lotus and sage.
For a mouth-watering sedative blend, add one part valerian or hops to two parts California poppy. Mix in a sprinkling of vanilla or cinnamon for a warm, relaxing flavor.
The flavor of a smoking blend is integral to the overall experience. When choosing ingredients based on their taste, opt for herbs with pleasant aromas, and avoid using large amounts of strong or overpowering herbs.
Lavender and rose can be used for a soft, floral flavor. Herbs from the mint family, such as spearmint and peppermint, have a soothing, cooling effect and can provide an alternative to the menthol in cigarettes. Menthol fans may also enjoy cloves, which add a bold and spicy flavor to herbal smokes. Other herbs with enticing flavor include cinnamon, lemon balm and vanilla bean.
Whether smoked or ingested, herbs can cause dangerous interactions with certain foods and medications. If you experience throat swelling, trouble breathing or other allergic symptoms, seek medical help immediately, as these may be signs of a life-threatening reaction. Smoking can cause airway irritation and may potentially contribute to the development of cancer and other lung diseases over time.