Herbal smoking mixtures.


Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Mint - drying, smoking question
From: clynne.cco.caltech.edu (Constance L. Villani)
Date: 15 Feb 1994 18:13:31 GMT

I'm looking for a substance that fulfills the following criteria:

  1. Can be dried and smoked
  2. Doesn't get you "high," except for the oxygen deprivation
  3. Has relatively little bad side effect, other than those commonly associated with the stupidity of voluntarily induced smoke inhalation.
  4. Cheap and easy to find.
  5. Legal

Someone suggested that mint would fulfill these requirements. Does anyone else have any comment? I have *tons* of wild mint growing in my backyard.

: ) Connie-Lynne

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Mint - drying, smoking question
From: mildew.math.toronto.edu (Andrew Schwartz)
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 94 05:31:19 GMT

> I'm looking for a substance that fulfills the following criteria:

Billie Potts (witches heal) claims that combinations of mullein and coltsfoot are good to smoke. In season, both should be easy to find (i.e. neither is plentifull in the wilds of Canada right now), and can be bought dried almost anywhere. I think that the some first nation communities smoked these medicinally for lung problems, so shouldn't be so bad medically.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.delphi.com>

Coltsfoot has been used in many smoking mixtures, however it is an expectorant and can cause excessive coughing if used alone or in quantity. This could be good if you need to clean you lungs.

Good bases for a tobacco like smoking mixture would include astringent herbs and barks like Kinnikkinik, Manzanita; Dogwood bark, willow bark, and others. These have a "thick" quality with a minimum of mental effects. They can be too strong to smoke alone.

Flavoring herbs include the sages, mints, aromatic herbs and roots. Sometimes these are too strong to smoke alone, so mix with a base.

Lobelia has lobeline in it, an ingredient that your body "sees" as nicotine and is used in prescription chewing gum for quiting smoking. Dosage is important as this is a strong herb not to be used alone, at most a tspoon with an ounce of other herbs.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.delphi.com>

Barks were a standard ingredient of Native American smoking mixtures, at least on the West Coast of the United States. The good smoking barks are usually astringents, and have medicinal value for external burns, cuts, etc. Smoked, however, they have no medicinal effects, and no apparent psysiological effect other than the act of smoking. They have a dull thick flavor that adds "body" to the smoke. They can be too "raspy" to smoke alone. Willow and Dogwood bark are two common barks. Use the thin barked willows, or inner layer of the thicker barks for best results. If possible, cut the bark into very thin strips to approximate a fine cut virginian tobacco.This isn't always possible, but it helps to make the smoking mixture easier to deal with for rolling and mixing other herbs.

Other astringents you can use for hearty smoking mixture bases are:

  • Madrone Bark or leaf (very strong, mix a little in the mix),
  • Manzanita bark or leaf (also very strong).
  • Pipsissewa, Price's Pine, Chimaphila umbellata, is a very mild astringent and can be smoked alone. The lightest smoke on this list. Use the leaves.
  • Pyrola, Pyrola sp. is almost exactly the same chemically as Pipsissewa, use the leaves.
  • Kinnikkinnik, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Bearberry is the standard for the Northwestern smoking mixture. Its not as strong as the barks, but stronger than the last two. The leaves are usually used, but it is possible to smoke the bark. Kinnikkinnik is an Indian word for smoking mixture. It is true they smoked Kinnikkinnik (the plant), but usually the "kinnikkinnik" they smoked also contained willow bark and other ingredients. This confused some of the ethnobotanists cataloging their herb usage, so be aware of this when reading "Indian Uses for Herbs" type books..

From: pami.vance.mit.edu (P.J. Evans)

> I'm looking for a substance that fulfills the following criteria:

In "The Herb Book" John Lust recomends Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) as a substitute for tobacco. I believe that it fulfills all of the above requirements. It can be easily dried, and smoking is not a problem (as far as I have been able to find). It grows wild in most parts of North America and Europe, and is legal.

Also, smoking coltsfoot (flowers and leaves) is recomended for overcoming chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath and dry coughs.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.delphi.com>


You mentioned that "Finding herbs is not a problem, but finding a palatable mixture has been."

A number of factors contribute to making a smoking mix palatable. First and foremost 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.

Hope this helps you in your quest for a satisfying alternative.

Howie Brounstein

From: moreta.prostar.com (Moreta)

One of the mixtures I have used in the past for a herbal smoking blend, is peppermint, gotu kola, mullien, and urva ursi, it is very mellow, and it is minty, only problem I have found with it, is that if you are using a pipe, you need to clean it often, the resins really build up.