Once upon a time, a dear friend who knew my love of working with herbs, approached me in desperation. He had been told by his physician that he had to stop smoking, and nothing seemed to be working. Since quitting seemed like such a huge hurdle, the idea of going cold turkey kept him from even attempting to quit.
In my opinion, the nicotine addiction is only one component to smoking. There is also the soothing nature of the act, the entire contemplative relaxation one gets from smoking, it is... more than removing the nicotine, it is also finding other ways to self-soothe that are less harmful. It may be easier to replace one tobacco cigarette for an herbal one.
I was able to do some research and come up with a blend that gave my friend something to smoke for a few days. I will admit, he still didn't quit cold turkey. He did however, skip a cigarette whenever he could by smoking an herbal one. It was progress.
Let's take a look at a tiny sampling of herbs that can be used for a smoking mixture. For an exhaustive list, see Howie's site on Smoking Mixtures. It is beyond the scope of this site.
01 of 05
Think of mullein as the neutral base in any herbal smoking mixture. It adds bulk, a very light smoke, and not much else to the flavor.
Mullein is also used in smoking mixtures for smokers who are trying to bring up congestion. Be aware that this technique is not to be used by someone who is not a smoker. The resulting coughing fit will not benefit any respiratory illness.
Dry mullein will go up in a puff of smoke and taste too harsh to be enjoyed at all. Use the fuzzy leaf, when it is dry but... still very pliable - think too moist to store in a jar.
To prepare mullein leaf, allow it to dry slightly and then rub it as you would sage to produce a light, fluffy herb. For instructions on how to hand rub mullein, see: Hand rubbed Sage
02 of 05
Used for flavor, raspberry leaves also add some body to the smoking mixture. It was the next largest amount of herb that was added to my smoking mixture.
I also found that my smoking friend who was quitting needed much more red raspberry leaves in the beginning. Eventually, I scaled back this ingredient as it became easier to smoke less.
Use dried leaves, that are thoroughly dried, and lightly spritzed with water to refresh them a bit. Remember, herbs that are too dried out tasted harsh and will... not be enjoyable, but raspberry leaves need to be dried completely before use. The remedy is a light misting with water and allow the leaves to absorb just a bit.
When making a smoking mixture, I hand-tear the raspberry leaves. This produces a larger piece that can be better blended into the mixture.
03 of 05
Catnip adds a relaxing note to the smoking mixture. It is gentle and can be effective to take the edge off the craving for tobacco. I find it a little too harsh once that craving abates.
When adding catnip, use a light hand - it is an acquired taste for many.
Catnip is a very useful herb to have at your disposal.
04 of 05
Sage is an herb that will enhance the smoke of your mixture. All varieties of sage can be used. Each variety has its own unique flavor.
From smudging, I have grown fond of white sage, I like a sprinkling of it added to a smoking mixture, especially if the user is going to be smoking near me. The sages all work well in this way, so try a few types before settling on your favorite.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Lemon balm is an unusual flavoring for your herbal smoking mixtures. It does add to the recipe by creating a heavier smoke, but lemon might be offputting to some. Because it is so prolific in my garden, it is usually added.
Proper credit has to be given to the herbalist who taught me almost everything I know about herbs for smoking: Howie Brounstein, of Columbines School of Botanical Studies. At the very least, Mr. Brounstein gave me the confidence to try my own herbal blends to replace tobacco for my smoking friends. He is the absolute master of herbal smoking knowledge