The Art of Smoking herbs is a fascinating exploration that is often best visited through experience. AND it helps to have a bit of knowledge about which herbs are best suited for this method of use.
Certainly, as with any methods of using herbal medicine, you will need to make the best choices for you. I do not recommend smoking herbs in any form for children. I also advise those with lung conditions to proceed very cautiously. While herbal smoke can actually be helpful for some lung conditions, depending on your particular makeup and condition, it may aggravate it, or it may aggravate it when used at a time when your body is not going to receive it very well, such as DURING an asthma attack. As always, your body is your best guide.
Herbal blends can be made up that are strictly herbs or herbs can be mixed with cannabis and/or tobacco. I find them best used when rolled into a cigarette either with your hands, if you are skilled at this (I am not!) or with a small inexpensive rolling apparatus (these can usually be purchased for under $5) and rolling papers (I prefer to use the RAW hemp papers). You can also use a smoking apparatus such as a glass pipe (I really never liked these myself, but if you do this is perfectly fine).
You can mix up your own blends or you can do what I do, which is to have different herbs in small amounts available, as your smoking herbs, to create unique blends per cigarette. I never know what support I might need or want, it can change often, and so I tend to do “a little pinch of this and a little bit of that” each time I roll an herbal cigarette.
A question people often ask is How often can I smoke an herbal cigarette? The answer is that it is up to you. People often smoke tobacco cigarettes quite often. I would say your more base herbs such as raspberry leaf and mullein could be used more frequently…….multiple times a day……however, herbs such as wood betony and skullcap should be approached with less frequency. And yes they can be used daily. Think of them as medicine. Think of how you would use a tincture. If it was something needed in a certain situation, you might use that tincture every hour. If it were something more routine, you might only use it once or twice a day. And sometimes, you might only use certain tinctures when they were needed, which might only come about once a week or once a month. Think of smoking herbs in the same way.
By base herbs, I mean those that are the base in nearly every mixture that I make. They will make up at least 50% if not more, of the blend, whether that blend be 4 ounces or one single cigarette They provide bulk and their own benefits
Mullein - I always like to include this herb for it’s respiratory support, which will extend itself into supporting the lungs from the smoking process itself.
Raspberry Leaf - I used raspberry leaf primarily to provide bulk. It is fairly mellow, not really imparting much flavor, which allows your other flavors to shine through. It is an astringent and a tonic herb.
The herbs I choose for their medicinal action in smoking are almost always those that fall under the category of nervines. Most of the herbal nervines can be smoked. These will make up about 30-40% of the blend with the last 10% being the flavoring herbs (if i even use that). I tend to usually select one, sometimes two from this category. Usually only one is needed and I like to keep it simple and to know what you are invoking and what is bringing that to you.
Skullcap- This is a lovely addition when a little bit of calming and soothing is needed. It can help with mild anxiousness. It is usually relaxing, but non-sedating.
Wood Betony - This is a wonderful herb when more intense anxiety is being felt, in particular the type that makes you feel like you are outside of your body, or above your body. It has a downward pull that can bring you back into your body pretty quickly. It is a nervous system herb and it can cause mild sedation.
Passionflower- A wonderful nervous system herb that may be helpful for insomnia and nerve type pain. It can be mildly sedating, but not as sedating as Wood Betony.
Lobelia - A very useful relaxant. It stimulates the vagus nerve and It can quiet the nervous system. It can also help to carry other herbs through the body. Use with caution. This is a powerful emetic, which means that too much can cause vomiting. What everyone’s threshold is for that is going to be different. A pinch is usually all that is needed.
Damiana - A nervous system strengthening herb, which has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. It may help with anxiety and overstimulation.
Flavoring Herbs & Medicinals
The herbs I choose for their flavoring are not limited to this list. I have chosen those that I used most often, and those that are easy to obtain. I do not always use them. When I do, they make up 5% to 10% of the total blend.
Lavender - A lovely flowery flavor which brings calm and relaxation.
Rose - Heart opening energetics. A lovely addition to any blend.
Chamomile - Calming and soothing and non-sedating. Mild floral flavor.
Mint - Uplifting and cooling. I find mints to be a lovely addition when the weather is hot and/or I might have a slightly dry or irritated throat. I like peppermint or spearmint, with peppermint being much stronger. Only a little it is needed of either.
Marshmallow root - added in small amounts can help to soothe the throat and respiratory tract.
A note on Tobacco
It might surprise people that I am not against tobacco use, especially occasionally. It is a plant that is incredibly helpful for its grounding, dropping us back into our bodies. I AM, however, very much against commercial cigarettes. The are loaded with chemicals and the filters are made up of highly toxic materials. There is a big difference in occasionally smoking organic tobacco leaf mixed with herbs, from smoking a pack of camels. Herbal blends are a helpful way to curve tobacco use and to slowly begin to cease tobacco - more on this later.
I certainly am not advocating for tobacco use. However, it is a sacred herb. It can be used properly. The trouble is that it is one that can easily slip into addiction. My recommendation is if you are going to use tobacco leaf, to never make it more than 40-50% of your blend and to bring in mullein and raspberry leaf (and other things if you choose).
Always check any contraindications of the herbs that you are choosing. And again, go simple. You do not need a blend that contains 12 different herbs. Pick 1 or two base herbs. 1 medicinal herb. And then either pick or don’t pick 1 flavor herb.