Herbal Treats

Herbal Smoking Mixtures Workshop

We present an Herbal Smoking Mixtures Workshop about twice a year. You can purchase a downloadable recording of the last workshop here.

Herbal Smoking Mixtures Part 6

Medicinal Smoking Herbs for Calming

by Howie Brounstein


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.

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