Mullein: herbal smoking mixes.


Date: Mon, 14 Mar 1994 15:19:54 EST
Sender: "Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list" <HERB.TREARN.BITNET>
From: Howie Brounstein <howieb1991.AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Herbs to help st...

A number of factors contribute to making a smoking mix palatable. First and formost is the way you cure the herbs. If you take fresh tobacco and dry it like any medicinal herb, it becomes an unpalatable obnoxious smoke that the most hardcore smoker couldn't stomach (or lung, as the case may be). Tobacco is semi-dried slowly, allowing for chemical changes, and is never dried to a crisp. It is packaged slightly moist in air tight containers. If it dries out, the smoker adds an apple slice or sprays it with water. Dried out tobacco is harsh.

Herbal smoking blends are similar. In most cases you do not want the herbs to be dried crispy. It's OK for some of the ingredients, but as a whole the mixture should be ever so slightly moist. Try spraying your mixtures, or adding an apple slice. Experiment with it. Some of the most flavorful smoking ingredients need to actually dry slow, and cure, but the majority are best picked fresh and just not dried completely. Package in an airtight container.

Next is the consistancy of the mixture. The herbs should be well mixed. Finely shredded barks can help. By far the best physical base for a smoking mixture is mullein, Verbascum thapsus. It is a fine medicinal for the lungs, even smoked. It soothes imflammed or infected lungs, and prevents coughing until infection or inflammation is broken. Then it aids in expectoration, helping to break up congestion and promote "effective" coughing. It was smoked to stop the coughing of tuberculosis years ago. It is wonderful for any kind of lung cleansing. It has no physical psychological effect. It also has almost no flavor and is a very light smoke. The average smoker would feel like they're smoking air.

Crispy dried crushed mullein is a lousy smoke. Mostly dried mullein should be rubbed for the best results. Roll the leaves in your hands for a while, it will become very fluffy and puffy. This fuzzy rubbed mullein will evenly burn when smoked in papers or pipe. It will hold other herbs that are in the form of small pieces and powder, and keep them evenly distributed. And it has no flavor! Ideal for a smoking base. I like the light green baby leaves found in the center of the first year basal rossette, but its a matter of personal choice. Any leaf will work.

Sometimes I put the mullein in a blender before mixing. It becomes very fluffy, but it lacks the "personal" touch hand rubbing gives.

Finally, the amounts and kinds of flavoring herbs you use will change the palatability. You need to just play with it until you get it right.

Unfortunately, most commercially available herbal smoking blends don't properly prepare, cure, and package the herbs. They often have good recipes, and I have to assume the manufacturers have the best intentions but lack of resourses or knowledge. Some are still good enough to smoke. Very few rival even the simplest hand picked, rubbed and/or cured, and semi-dried do it yourself mix.

Howie Brounstein