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Herbal Smoking Mixtures

by Howie Brounstein


1995HB This file may be reprinted and distributed freely as long as it remains unchanged and with this header attached. Text versions of this work are available for downloading from this site or at Sunsite or its mirrors. Hard copies are available for purchase.

Flavorings

Sometimes an herbal smoking mixture can be quite bland, or the smoker may like menthol cigarettes. The herbs in this section are good for flavoring. Most are aromatic or good smelling herbs with no system wide effect when smoked.

If you were to smoke these herbs alone full strength, they wouldn't taste good. They may even be irritating this way. Only add a little to the mixture and taste it. Experiment to find your own special flavor and strength. Go light handed at first.

Feel free to go further in experimenting with flavors. Any smelly edible plant might be useful as a flavoring. Look in your spice and tea rack for possibilities like lemon grass, etc.

Mints, Mentha sp.

Mints are probably the most accessible and used flavoring agents for smoking mixtures. They impart a menthol flavor. This includes Spearmint, Peppermint, and all the numerous ornamental varieties such as Apple Mint, etc. Remember to go light so as not to irritate your lungs and throat.

Mugwort Herbaceous Artemisia sp. (not shrubs)

Mug means glass; Wort means plant. It's the mug plant used for beer in medieval times. It is also used today at country fairs and gatherings by the more esoteric beer makers. It replaces hops in the beer formulas.

Mugwort is a very interesting plant deep in historical references. It is often said to promote prophetic dreams. I don't find this to be true all the time. It seems to me that Mugwort intensifies the dreaming process. It all depends on where you are in this process.

If you don't dream, Mugwort will help you to dream, but you may not remember them. If you don't remember your dreams Mugwort will help you to remember them. If you remember your dreams, Mugwort will help you to have conscious dreams. Conscious dreams are dreams where you are aware that you are dreaming and in full control of the situation. If you are consciously dreaming already, the plant will increase the frequency and control.

None of this implies that the dreams will be pleasant. Some people don't remember their dreams for a reason. Mugwort can cause nightmares and restless dreams leading to lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep. I know of an essential oil company that puts a warning on their Artemisia oil: Caution, may cause nightmares.

Certainly, Mugwort can lead to prophetic dreams if that is what you are into. I do not prefer that course of dream work. It is all up to you. One of my long term students feels that Mugwort is the most reality altering of all the psychotropics he's tried. Maybe you will too.

These effects are most pronounced with long term exposure to the herb. Dream pillows, fresh bundles allowed to dry by your bed, and smoking over a period of weeks. You may not always experience the subtle effects with one joint.

You can smoke Mugwort alone, but it's best to use as a flavoring agent because it is strongly aromatic. Mugwort can also be rubbed into a very good consistency as a carrier for the smoking mixture like Mullein but the flavor can overwhelm the mixture.

Internal use of Mugwort has physiological effects on your stomach and female reproductive system but this will not transfer through smoking.

Tarragon is a herbaceous Artemisia called Artemisia dranunculus or Dragon Sagewort.

Sagebrush, shrubby Artemisia sp.

Sagebrush is a shrub found growing throughout the desert western United States. It is in the Sunflower family and is not related in any way to the Salvia Sage used in cooking. It has been traditionally used to purify the environment. It is indeed an anti- bacterial for airborne bacteria. Often found in Sage sticks, and in stores labeled as Sage, it can be used as a flavoring for smoking mixtures. Native people used this plant like Salvia if they lived in an area where there was no Salvia.

Sage including White, Black, and Hummingbird, Salvia sp.

There are many kinds of Salvia Sages. Some are good to smoke as flavors including the white, black, purple and garden Sages. Some are not so pleasant but worth a try. Some of these Sages were used by Native Americans for purification rituals. They are in the mint family and are not related to Artemisia Sagebrush or Mugwort. These are also found in sage sticks.

Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis

Melissa is an herb often escaped from gardens and easy to find in the Pacific Northwest growing wild in cities. It is a very mild and friendly calming herb that will add a peaceful lemony flavor to any blend.

Yerba Buena , Satureja douglasii

Yerba Buena is a good herb for flavoring that grows in the coastal west. It should not be confused with peppermint, which is also sometimes called Yerba Buena. It has a menthol flavor that should satisfy those people who like "Kools."

Angelica, Angelica sp.

Angelica has many physiological effects when taken internally. When smoked as a flavoring in small amounts, it should have no system wide effects. You can use the root, dried and powdered and thoroughly mixed with the rest of the blend. Feel free to experiment with the leaves and green seeds for different flavor and strengths.

Osha, Oshala, Lovage , Ligusticum sp.

Ligusticums are yet another very special herb that the Native Americans deemed powerful and sacred. Ligusticum porteri, Osha, is called Peyote's little sister. All native Ligusticums were held in high regard by the local Natives. As a smoke it is only a flavor. You can use the root, dried and powered, but I find that the root hairs, not usually used for their medicinal effects, to be the best for flavor.

Clove

A common kitchen spice used with a light hand. Use the powder. Clove cigarettes with Tobacco were very popular for a while. Clove can be very irritating to the esophagus and lungs. This, together with the exceptionally strong Tobacco found in these imported cigarettes, quickly caused lung and esophageal problems. I have known many singers who have lost their voices in a few weeks of clove cigarette smoking. So feel free to use it, but respect it.

Lavender

Use the flowers and rub them if you wish. I love the smell of lavender but I hate the taste of smoked dried lavender. Perhaps you will love it, feel free to check it out.

Sweet Cicely, Osmorhiza sp.

This is another local Pacific Northwest plant with a pleasant aromatic anise flavor. You can use the root dried, powdered if it smells good. Seeds are also useful.

Ginger

Use dried powder, thoroughly mixed with a light hand.

Licorice

Use dried powder, thoroughly mixed with a light hand.

Anise

For those who like the licorice flavor, try these seeds.

Further Experimentation

This area of herbalism is still very unexplored. If you want to experiment further with herbs not mentioned here, check out innocuous edible leafy herbs like Violets, Viola sp., Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris, Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum sp., and Paintbrush, Castilleja sp., to name a few. You may wish to explore plants with names like Indian Tobacco, but be cautious. This common name refers to many plants. Some are not good to smoke. Some were not smoked by Native Americans at all. Yellow Dock is called Indian Tobacco because the old flowers look somewhat like Tobacco in some people's eyes.

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