Herbs for Calming
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Calming herbs are antispasmodic for muscle cramps, sore muscles, menstrual cramps, hiccups, spasms, tight muscles, etc. They are also used for their psychological effects. They are good for anger, fear, pain, anxiety, circular thoughts that go round and round in your head that you can't get rid of, relaxing after a hard day, blues, melancholy, irritability, too much coffee or other stimulants, and circular thoughts that keep coming back to you.
Calming herbs are very good for quitting Marijuana smoking. Many people smoke Marijuana because they want to unwind after work. The constant hustle- bustle of modern life only leaves us a few hours in the evening to relax. Many people are too wound up from work. The only socially acceptable drugs available are alcohol and pharmaceutical tranquilizers that wreak havoc on our bodies, thus the evening Marijuana smoker.
Unfortunately, Marijuana has effects other than just relaxing. Many people become cloudy, paranoid, or shaky from blood sugar imbalances, but it is the only drug they know to take. These people can be helped greatly by calming herbs.
These herbs will relax you without clouding your judgment. You will feel them. They are as strong as Marijuana but with a different effect. It causes a calm clear feeling that will not interfere with the rest of your evening's thoughts. It will relax you and stop the rehashing of the days constant traumas so that you can fall asleep naturally, if you're tired. I find many people try these herbs for this reason and wake up in front of the TV set after smoking these plants. It didn't knock them out. They were just so tired they needed the sleep.
Sometimes people smoke these plants and don't feel anything. You may have to take notice of it consciously. However, if you are irritable and about to fight with your partner, you will find the effects pronounced.
Other smokable calming herbs worth an honorable mention include Passionflower, Passiflora sp., and Hops, Humulus sp.
Skullcap, Scutellaria sp.
Skullcap is a very good calming herb to smoke. I find that the commercially available Scutellaria lateriflora is not very strong as a smoke. Almost all commercially available Skullcap is too dry and stemmy to make a good smoke. The Scutellaria galericulata the more common plant found growing wild in the United States is much stronger. It is roughly equivalent in strength to good Marijuana leaf or bud shake. It works in almost all cases. The nice green leaf is easy to roll and blends well with many smoking mixtures. It is one of my standard smoking ingredients.
I have found through blatant experimentation that the desert species of Skullcap, Scutellaria nana, is exceptionally strong. We affectionately call it Mad Dog Desert Skullcap. Mad Dog Weed is another common name for Skullcap as this plant was used to treat rabies in the past. Found throughout the Great Basin the small, nearly invisible plant is as strong as the highest quality Marijuana. Unfortunately, it will cloud your head and make you tired unlike most of the other herbs we use. If you live in a desert area you should definitely try your local little Skullcap. This herb is so strong I urge mixing it with other herbs.
Elephant's Head, Parrot's Beak, and Indian Warrior, Pedicularis sp.
All of the Pedicularis' are tranquilizers and muscle relaxants. They are of varying strengths with Elephant's Head, Pedicularis groenlandica, being the mildest. The most outstanding thing about Pedicularis' are their flavor. They are the best tasting herbs for smoking I have found. Some are so strong that they rival Mad Dog Desert Skullcap. Many of them form unusual looking groups of flowers that dry into illegal looking buds. Indeed, Elephant's Head dries to beautiful red or purple buds with what appears to be red hairs. Cobrahead, Pedicularis bracteosa, dries into green buds that could easily confuse a local peace officer. The effects however are profoundly different.
A student of mine went by herself to collect some Elephant's Head for her smoking mixture. While she picked, she kept munching on the heads. The next thing she knew, she was waking up from a nap and the sun was going down. It is a fine herb indeed.
There is very little reference to these plants in the herbal literature except for Michael Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. I did find a few other references like the natives in Tibet using their Pedicularis for upset stomachs and kidney problems. Still as I wander through the high mountain meadows enjoying the wonderful gifts of the earth, I find it very hard to believe that the Native Americans in my area did not use this plant.
A number of years back I had a student whose uncle was very woods wise. After a number of classes he visited his uncle. The uncle was impressed with his knowledge, and with a wry grin asked, "But have you tried the Pedicularis yet?" I wondered how the uncle knew about these plants. I found out that he learned of Pedicularis from a Native American friend whose tribe smoked it. There are many uses of plants that have not been recorded even now.
These plants are a welcome addition to any smoking mixture both as flavor and a medicine. Elephant's Head has the best flavor but is the mildest, but every Pedicularis I have tasted has been an excellent smoke.
posted by Admin @ 7:52 PM, ,
Let's face it, herbal smoking mixtures will not cause you to quit Tobacco. Only you can cause you to stop. Smoking mixtures can aid in the process if you are ready. A variety of mixtures can be helpful.
At first, a thick bodied flavorful smoke with Lobelia and calming herbs is indicated. After the physical withdrawal is finished with, drop the Lobelia smoke and use a calming smoke with lots of astringent herbs for a heavy "Tobacco" smoke. In reality, no herbal smoking mixture tastes as "thick" as Tobacco. Be sure to add some Mullein and possibly some expectorants to aid in the cleansing process. Finally, you may wish to cut the astringents and just go with the very light Mullein alone. Mullein is so light it will feel as you aren't really smoking anything, and you will eventually lose interest in it. This regimen is an example, and can be modified to your own personal needs. Some examples of these mixtures are found in the recipe section.
Other herbs, taken as tea or tincture, may be helpful during the withdrawal process. A liver stimulant like Oregon Grape Root or Goldenseal may help your body remove the nicotine quicker. This won't make the withdrawal symptoms easier, but it will just speed it up. Salicylate herbs, like Willow and Oak, can help with headaches. Calming herbs like Skullcap, Valerian, and Parrot's Beak, are definitely indicated. After the physical addiction is broken, it's up to you to break the psychological addiction.
Lobelia, Lobelia inflata
Lobelia is another example of a strong herb whose dosage can be regulated by smoking. It is a very strong muscle relaxant and tranquilizer that should not be mixed with any other pharmaceutical tranquilizers or alcohol. It also is an expectorant. As an added bonus it is an alterative that increases your body's own natural defense mechanisms. All this makes it ideal as an herb to stop smoking with.
Your body sees Lobelia's main ingredient, lobeline, as nicotine. Certain receptors in your body are waiting to be filled with nicotine and so you feel nicotine fits. Lobeline is the same shape as nicotine and fits into these receptor sites, fooling your body into thinking you've been smoking Tobacco. Lobeline, however, is not addictive when used properly for the short term. The prescription chewing gums that doctors prescribe to quit smoking have lobeline as the main ingredient.
Years ago I had a booth at a weekly fair where I sold my herbal products. Eventually I got very tired of this. Towards the end I could no longer stand being available for questions for eight hour stretches. One day I had a wicked headache and took some Lobelia. It was a good solid dose; I had to sit down but my headache was gone. I went to light a cigarette, but after one puff I could not smoke any more. My body felt as if I had smoked too many cigarettes already. It was just the Lobelia.
The important thing to remember about Lobelia is that it is so strong. When making tea, use a teaspoon per 1/2 gallon of water mixed with other herbs. For a smoking mixture add a pinch to a bag of other herbs. If you do take too much Lobelia will make you throw up over 90% of the time. Unfortunately, if you do not throw up, you can have respiratory failure from the sedative effects. This is a very difficult thing to do because you'll feel so wretched long before it's dangerous. Unfortunately, Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden recommends an insane fasting regime that includes using Lobelia every day to throw up. This recommendation has sent a few alternative minded folks to the hospital. My suggestion: don't use Lobelia as an emetic (causes vomiting), use something that is safe and effective like syrup of ipecac.
In the United States Lobelia is illegal to sell for internal consumption. Certainly official reasons include the possibility of poisoning. Strangely enough Lobelia is extremely effective for a significant amount of asthmatics. For some people the tincture is useful in place of inhalers. I am sure that the powerful pharmaceutical companies losing a significant percentage of inhaler business has nothing to do with this law.
When I was a pimply adolescent looking for psychic pyrotechnics, I found this ad in the back of High Times for legal highs. My friends and I purchased some Lobelia touted as a mild LSD type feeling. Leaving our parents and going on a camping trip, we promptly rolled thick joints of Lobelia which we smoked endlessly. After puking our guts out, we were left with headaches and not so vague feelings of depression. We were so bummed out we canceled the camping trip. The difference between poison and medicine is dosage. Personal note: almost all of the 15 or so herbs we tried during that time period had similar results.
Lobelia is the herb for stopping smoking with its calming, expectorant, alterative, and nicotine mimicking effects. When making your mixture, add a pinch of Lobelia. If it's not satisfying, add more. I once tried to quit smoking. It was very difficult for me, so I smoked a too strong Lobelia cigarette. It made me dizzy, light headed, and nauseous. However, when I smoked my first cigarette after quitting Tobacco, it made me dizzy, light headed and nauseous. These herbs are very similar in some ways.
posted by Admin @ 7:24 PM, ,
Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
Mullein is a fine medicinal for the lungs, even when you smoke it. It soothes inflamed 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. Very gentle and non-toxic, you can use it anytime. If you are a smoker, and you are sick and can't stop coughing from a cold, you can smoke some Mullein instead of Tobacco. It may help you to stop coughing, and you will have smoked one less cigarette. If you are not a smoker, stick with tincture (extract) or Mullein tea. After all, there's no need to smoke when you're sick in your lungs.
It also has almost no flavor and is a very light smoke. I have never seen anyone become addicted to smoking Mullein, as after a while it is very unsatisfying. The average smoker would feel as if they're smoking air.
Crispy dried crushed Mullein is a lousy smoke. Be sure to keep it ever so slightly moist. Dried Mullein should be rubbed for the best results. It will become very fluffy and puffy. This fuzzy rubbed Mullein will burn evenly when smoked in a paper 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 use it in almost every smoking mixture.
I like the light green baby leaves found in the center of the first year basal rosette, but it's a matter of personal choice. Any leaf will work.
Horehound, Marrubium vulgare, and Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara
These commonly used smoking ingredients are expectorants. They promote coughing and aid in the upward flow of mucus. Let me repeat this: these herbs will make you cough. Let me relate to you a story I have heard more times than I can count on my hands and my feet. The person hears that Coltsfoot was smoked by the Native Americans. They run to the health food store, roll up a cigarette of dried raspy Coltsfoot, and proceed to smoke it as if it was marijuana. After they cough a piece of their brains out, they decide that perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. However, the difference between poison and medicine is dosage. If used properly, these herbs are very effective healthful herbs.
Mix these herbs in medium amounts with other herbs. If the mixture makes you cough too much, use less of the expectorant. They are ideal for a general lung cleanse, for the ending of respiratory flus and colds, when you're quitting Tobacco, and to get the crud out of you lungs in general. Do not use them when you are coughing up blood or if it hurts when you breathe. See a qualified health professional if this is the case. Also, do not use them when you can not stop coughing. If this is the case, stick with Mullein. Ideally theses mixtures should not make you cough incessantly, but just cough effectively once in a while, bringing up some of that excess phlegm.
Jimson Weed Seeds, Datura sp.
One good reason to smoke an herb as a preferred method of ingestion is regulation of dosage. You can smoke an herb that is very strong and regulate the dosage safety. The difference between medicine and poison is dosage. Many plants are too strong to take internally safely. If you take a tea, it may take half an hour or more before you can tell how strong of a dosage you took. At that point it is too late to take less. When you smoke an herb the effects or side effects become apparent quickly. If the herb doesn't agree with you, you can stop before overdosing.
Jimson weed is definitely a strong hallucinogen, poison, medicine any way you look at it. The dosage is all important. I do not recommend internal use of Datura without the guidance of a shaman. The use of Datura for a high by pimply adolescents looking for some fireworks is deplorable. Too many of them end up as newspaper reports. I personally know of people who have landed in the hospital for extended stays because of this plant.
Used in the proper dosages, Datura can be a very effective treatment for a variety of problems. Smoke the crushed seeds only. The seeds are the mildest part of the plant. Just a few puffs will anesthetize your throat and lungs. This could be very helpful with some lung problems. You will not feel psychological effects from this small a dosage. I have used this method of taking this herb and will guarantee that you will not get high from two puffs. This plant does not agree with some people. If you feel light headed or nauseous, then stop smoking it. No harm will be done.
In some oversea countries, you may find that the cigarettes still contain Datura leaf. Datura has been used as smoking mixtures in a variety of cultures. Generally this is for their hallucinogenic effect and doesn't concern us in this book.
posted by Admin @ 7:23 PM, ,
People often ask me how smoking herbs can possibly be good for your lungs. I tell them the peanut butter story. Is peanut butter good for you? If you wake up to coffee and a maple bar (it has the sugar I need to get up and go in the morning), a quick coffee and some sugary lunch snack bar, followed by a processed dinner with an extra serving of tensions, then replacing the lunch with a peanut butter sandwich will be healthy. If you're on a strict vegan diet of raw fruit only, a peanut butter sandwich will clog your digestive tract like super- glue. Peanut butter is bad. It all depends where your body is.
It is the same with smoking herbs. If you have never smoked and your lungs are healthy and clean, then smoking anything will not be healthy. On the other hand, if your lungs are filled with crud that won't come out from cigarettes and a mild respiratory cold, smoking some lung herbs will help your body's natural expectoration. Smoking will be good for your lungs. It all depends on where your body is.
posted by Admin @ 6:57 PM, ,