Smoking Herbs
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: February 14, 2005

Is it possible to smoke herbs? If so, can you give me a website that can list the herbs and their side effects when smoked? Or can you give me a list of smokeable herbs?

Yes, it is possible to smoke herbs. Tobacco is the best known and most notorious of the smoking herbs, but there are others that have been used for smoking.

Please see my previous answer about North American smoking herbs (www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Aromatic/19980727-1.html) known to be used by the First Nations peoples. In addition to those mentioned in that posting, here is a list of other herbs used for smoking: buckbean, chervil, coltsfoot, dittany, ginseng, everlasting, marjoram, mullein, rosemary, sage, and sassafras bark.

Herbs are also used for flavouring tobacco, including allspice, licorice, styrax and tonka beans.

Joseph Meyer’s classic book, "The Herbalist", refers to a mix called "British Herb Tobacco". Its base is coltsfoot leaves, a common smoking herb, to which other herbs are added. He gives a recipe as follows: to 1 pound of dried coltsfoot leaves mix in 0.5 pound each of eyebright and buckbean, 4 ounces of betony, 2 ounces of rosemary, 1.5 ounces of thyme, and 1 ounce of lavender. He says that rose leaves and chamomile flowers are sometimes added also.

I do not have any information on the side effects of these herbs when smoked. There is no literature that I am aware of that suggests that smoking any of these herbs is harmful. Coltsfoot contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are thought to harm the liver. But it is hard to imagine how the PAs get into the blood stream from smoking the herb. PAs are a problem if coltsfoot is taken as a tea over long periods, but I doubt that PAs would volatilize and enter the bloodstream from burning coltsfoot leaves.

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