Smoking: Fun With Nervines

1887 illustration of Lobelia inflata

I am typing this post while feeling totally relaxed, in a great mood, and quite a bit altered, because I just smoked Indian tobacco, Lobelia inflata, and passionflower. I’m the only person I’ve ever heard of who smoked passionflower, let alone those two blended together. And you know what? I highly recommend it. Passionflower is a pleasant-tasting hypnotic (sedative) and a relaxing nervine, and lobelia is relaxing and uplifting, and the two together are pretty fantastic. It’s the best combination I’ve tried thus far.

A “nervine,” by the way, is herbal jargon for a plant that has a beneficial effect on the nervous system. I’ve been reading about them in the textbook Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman, a great read for anyone curious about the scientific end of how herbs work.

I got the idea to smoke lobelia and passionflower together as research for experimenting with nervines and hypnotics. Smoking herbs can be especially beneficial under some circumstances. Lobelia, for example, is an anti-spasmodic that’s helpful for treating asthma, and what better way to get it to the lungs directly? Mullein, verbascum thapsus, is a wonderful, soft base layer for smoke blends. It’s also an expectorant. Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, has antimicrobial properties. That combination can be useful when fighting off a lung infection.

Pedicularis groenlandica

I recommend checking out this informative web page on herbal smoking blends by the Eugene-based herbalist Howie Brounstein of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. Howie suggests smoking medicinal herbs as alternatives to marijuana and tobacco. In particular, he recommends pedicularis, a muscle relaxer. I like pedicularis very much and I’ve been fortunate to be able to wildcraft it, but it’s fairly scarce and difficult to get, making it expensive to buy, and there are many more affordable and more available alternatives you can find at your local herb shop or in the wild. If you’ve come to my Urban Foraging 101 class, then you know that one very common and abundant wild nervine herb is none other than the mint plant, lemon balm, Melissa officinalis.

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2 thoughts on “Smoking: Fun With Nervines

  1. Ahh.. kinnikinnick class. I wish I didn’t live 2 days drive away. Be sure to mention some native American blends of kinnikinnick. Bring a piece pipe.

    I tried to grow inflata last year. It didn’t like Kentucky tobacco soil as well as I thought it would. Don’t smoke to much, it’s called puke weed for a reason.

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