Food and Drink

All of the Other Herbs You Can Smoke

Cannabis isn't the only plant that humans have been smoking for centuries.

Bear Blend
Bear Blend
Bear Blend

It seems second nature for humans to try smoking the plants around them. For centuries, we’ve sparked up hundreds of botanicals-discovering medicinal benefits, bad trips, and pleasant buzzes as we explored the expanses of the plant world.

Cannabis may be the herb of the moment, but the normalization of weed and alternative wellness journeys in general has ushered in a broader herbal renaissance that’s bringing a variety of plants into pipes and papers everywhere. Herbal smoking blends peppered with rose petals and lavender buds are in style right now.

Looking at the content of today’s wellness trends, it makes sense: Aesthetically, herbal remedies are prime for social media content-not to mention more welcome on social media than cannabis-and smoking them is less intoxicating, allowing for those with lower tolerances the ability to enjoy a proper, botanically rich smoke sesh without losing the rest of their day to a streaming platform.

None of the following herbs are going to feel as strong as cannabis. When we say intoxicating, it’s very slight. But when combined together by knowledgeable herbalists, these herbs can have a harmonious effect that creates a more potent impact.

There is much research to be done in this space-and even more herbs being smoked than the 37 listed here-and although the anecdotal data for many of these ancient herbs has been amassed over multiple decades and continents, most herbs have not had studies conducted in regards to smoking them. While this list sheds some light on how these herbs can affect our bodies and our smoke seshes, it’s best to do your own research before embarking on new herbal adventures.

It’s a powerful thing to seek out alternative wellness and recreation ingredients that work with one’s unique body, and with great power comes great responsibility. Smoke safely.

Blue Cornflower

The vibrant petals of this flower are called upon often as a natural food colouring, a multipurpose medicinal tea, and for a smooth herbal smoke. This one’s a favourite among herbalists-harder to source but a delicious, soothing addition to any DIY blend.
Find it in: Meo Marley’s Exhale Herbal Rolling Filler

Barbari
Barbari
Barbari

Blue Lotus

This blue water lily, also known as Egyptian Lotus, has a mildly sedating effect that ancient civilizations discovered long ago, featuring it in rituals and as well as using it as a tool to lucid dream. You’d have to smoke much more of this plant than is typically sprinkled in smoking blends to experience significant psychoactive effects, but it’s a great addition for sleepier or more spiritual smoke seshes.
Find it in: Barbari Airplane Mode Herbal Blend & More Fya Sacred Ceremony Herbal Smoke Blend

Blue Vervain

An herb in traditional Chinese medicine, this spearheaded wildflower can quiet the mind, reduce stress and boost mood when smoked. It’s shown to have a positive impact on those dealing with depression.
Find it in: Miss Grass Hemp + Herb Minis For Sleep

Calamus

Calamus is a swampy plant with an intoxicating, spicy fragrance, which can have a clarifying effect on the body and mind. It’s often recommended for helping the body detoxify when quitting tobacco or taking a THC break.
Find it in: Grandfather’s Spirit Medicine Moon Smoking Blend

Bear Blend
Bear Blend
Bear Blend

Calendula

Also known as marigold flowers, calendula has been consumed recreationally as far back as the ancient Mayans. It has a smooth floral and citrus taste when smoked, and those citrusy terpenes can result in an uplifting mood boost.
Find it in: Bear Blend Original Ceremonial Blend

Catnip

While this herb won’t have the same effect on you that it does on your cat, smoking small amounts can have a pleasantly sedating effect.
Find it in: Puff Herbals Sleepy Spliffs

Terra Luna Herbals
Terra Luna Herbals
Terra Luna Herbals

Chamomile

That gently sweet flavour of chamomile is easy to get lost in a stronger-flavoured smoke blend, but the relieving effects should shine through every sesh.
Find it in: Terra Luna Exhale Herbal Smoke Blend

Chrysanthemum

This traditional Chinese medicine has been considered a healthier tobacco alternative for decades, with many cigarette-styled packs of chrysanthemum joints-which have a chamomile-like flavour-available in Asian markets.
Find it in: Lit Rituals Solar Tea Tokes

Damiana

Considered an aphrodisiac by some ancient civilizations, this tropical yellow flower lends a smooth, slight hickory-flavoured hint to any smoke blend. It may help get one’s mojo back, or it may just provide a gentle mood lift.
Find it in: Ouid Arouse Herbal Blend

Echinacea

Along with fortifying immune systems, echinacea can support respiratory systems and aid recovery of lungs when quitting smoking.
Find it in: Soje Floral Pack

Gotu Kola

This leafy plant has long been used as a medicinal herb for its stimulating mental effects when steeped or smoked. A useful addition for any mood-boosting, anti-depressive blends.
Find it in: Enlite Social Smoking Blend

Hawthorn

A flowering tree that almost looks like cherry blossoms, hawthorne has been consumed to support heart health for hundreds of years. It’s unclear if those properties are transferred when smoked, but eating the plant’s berries can provide a sense of balance and counteract insomnia.
Find it in: The Herb Shoppe Sacred Smoke Blend

Elle's Elixirs
Elle’s Elixirs
Elle’s Elixirs

Hibiscus

When consumed in moderation, hibiscus can be a soothing, flavorful smoke that promotes both healthy digestion and libido. The tropical blooms are packed with antioxidants and tied to a wealth of other positive impacts on our health.
Find it in: Elle’s Elixir No. 2

Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, this ayurvedic herb is packed with adaptogens and considered a true super plant of nature. When smoked, the full-bodied flavour almost has a menthol effect and can provide a calming sensation afterwards.
Find it in: Miss Grass Hemp + Herb Minis For Pleasure

Jasmine

With a subtle sweet, floral note and a boat load of antioxidants, the more laborious nature of sourcing these delicate blossoms must be the only reason it isn’t found in more blends. It’s associated with stress-relieving and sensually-stimulating effects when smoked.
Find it in: Sunday’s Company Lover’s Sip & Smoke Herbal Blend

Drew Martin
Drew Martin
Drew Martin

Lavender

Yes, you can smoke lavender! That signature lavender fragrance doesn’t dominate flavour in a smoke blend like you might expect, instead adding a lightly sweet, floral flavour to each relaxing toke.
Find it in: Drew Martin Lavender and Passionflower Pre-Rolls

Rebis Blends
Rebis Blends
Rebis Blends

Lemongrass

Here is where the subtle citrus taste can be accompanied by bright, uplifting effects. Yep-it’s not super common, but this popular culinary ingredient can be added to an herbal smoke blend to balance flavour and effect.
Find it in: The Herb Shoppe Aphrodite Smoke Blend

Licorice Root

A part of traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda, the naturally-sweet flavour and throat-soothing properties of licorice-among its other healing benefits-make it a smooth, tasty addition to herbal smokes.
Find it in: Grandfather’s Spirit, Grandmother’s Blessing Blend

Linden

With an herbal, slightly floral flavour and a smooth pull, linden is a frequently called upon ingredient for conventional herbal cigarettes. Linden teas are a popular option for a relaxing, end-of-the-day readjustment, so smoking it could have similar effects.
Find it in: Rituals + Ceremony Heart Blend

Marshmallow Leaf

A common ingredient in throat-soothing herbal teas of today, this ancient herb is revered for a variety of medicinal purposes. The sweet flavour and smoother smoke are ideal for those seeking herbs to help them wean off cigarettes.
Find it in: Good Grief Harvest Moon Blend

Mugwort

Also known as “the dream herb,” mugwort has had a multifaceted relationship with humans for many generations. From supporting lucid dreams to key applications in traditional Chinese medicine and relaxing the mind and body when smoked, you’ll find the wonder herb across the alternative wellness spectrum.
Find it in: Ouid’s Relax Herbal Blend

Mullein

Practitioners of traditional medicine have long smoked the leaves of this plant for positive effects on the pulmonary system. The neutral flavour and feel as it’s smoked has made mullein a common base component in a lot of smoking blends.
Find it in: 69 Herbs Spliff Blend & Puff Herbals Signature Spliffs

The Herb Shoppe
The Herb Shoppe
The Herb Shoppe

Nettle

This pokey, stinging plant has a long history of medical use. When sprinkled in with other base herbs, nettle can support a smoother smoke that’s less damaging to the pulmonary system.
Find it in: The Herb Shoppe Lung Liberator Smoke Blend

Passionflower

One of the prettiest plants in traditional medicine, the purple blossoms of the passionflower can be as intoxicating as they look. Sometimes associated with aphrodisiac effects, it’s most likely you’ll just feel a mellow, pleasant buzz.
Find it in: High Sun Low Moon Passionflower Blend

Peppermint

There is a reason menthols have been a popular cigarette varietal for over a century. Mint tastes delicious, freshening up your breath and your mind when smoked, lending an invigorating addition to any blend. It can be a dominating flavour, so if you’re rolling your own blends and don’t want to overpower the other herbals, sprinkle lightly.
Find it in: Good Smoke Peppermint Blend

Barbari
Barbari
Barbari

Raspberry Leaf

Used as a medicinal tea for womb health for hundreds of years, raspberry leaf is a popular base herb in many smoking blends. Longtime smokers enjoy the texture that raspberry leaf adds to each pull, finding it a satisfying substitute for tobacco.
Find it in: Ouid’s Uplift Herbal Blend & Barbari Herbal Blends

Rose

Rose is one of those magical plants-not unlike cannabis-with an endless list of applications in our lives. Concentrated rose oil has analgesic and moisturizing effects on our skin; rosewater is a nutritious and delicious ingredient in food and drinks; and smoking dried rose petals can imbue a calming, slightly euphoric sensation alongside its subtly sweet flavour.
Find it in: High Sun Low Moon God Leaf Blend

Sage

This essential cooking herb also happens to make a great, mildly flavoured smoking herb, often called upon in blends and for those seeking tobacco alternatives. Just be careful about the varieties-salvia officinalis or “common sage” has no significant psychological effects, but salvia divinorum is what they used to make salvia, that intense, short-lived psychedelic substance formerly sold at head shops.
Find it in: Barbari Herbal Blends & The Herb Shoppe Smoking Blends

Skullcap

Another ancient herb long used in medicinal teas and tinctures, skullcap has a pleasant, cinnamon-like scent and flavour that can be accompanied by feelings of mellow relaxation.
Find it in: Puff Herbals Stimulating Smoke Blend

Bear Blend
Bear Blend
Bear Blend

Saint John’s Wort

The bright yellow flowers of St. John’s Wort have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, but there’s modern studies that have demonstrated its antidepressant properties as well. Note that this herb can counteract certain forms of contraceptives.
Find it in: Bear Blend Moon Ceremonial Blend

Uva Ursi

Also known as Bearberry and Kinnikinnick in First Nations communities, which translates to “smoking mixture,” this berry shrub beloved by bears has been smoked for centuries. Some hold that it can soothe headaches when smoked, as well as create slightly intoxicating effects.
Find it in: Good Grief Time Warp Blend

Barbari
Barbari
Barbari

Wild Dagga

Also known as lion’s tail, the bright orange petals of wild dagga have had spiritual and medicinal applications for centuries. Smoking it can result in a pleasant buzz-slightly giddy and calming-and it’s also been associated with relieving headaches.
Find it in: Barbari Car Sex Herbal Blend

Wormwood

Despite being a fundamental ingredient in absinthe, smoking wormwood won’t bring about significant psychedelic effects. It may do something to calm the nerves and offer pain relief, though, and it’s a smooth, pleasant smoke when combusted.
Find it in: Puff Herbals Signature Smoke Blend

Commend
Commend
Commend

Violet

Like the dainty sweet, floral flavour it lends to desserts, violet makes for a subtle yet visually splashy ingredient in a smoking blend. Based on the effects of violet tea, it’s possible smoking violet can relieve menstrual and digestive discomfort.
Find it in: What Was Smoking Blend

Yarrow

An herb found throughout traditional medicinal practices, yarrow leaves can be smoked to¬†reduce inflammation and anxiety, and in some can cases have an analgesic effect on oral pain. It’s a good herb for daytime seshes, with more stimulating effects.
Find it in: The Spiceworks Twilight Herbal Blend

Yerba Santa

Native Americans used this coastal plant for a variety of medicinal applications, both a poultice and to support respiratory health. It’s purported to have calming and clarifying effects with a pretty unnoticeable flavour when smoked.
Find it in: Drew Martin Calendula and Yerba Santa Pre-Rolls

Editor’s Note: Any cannabis products referenced above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The writer is not a medical doctor, and their experience is based on personal use, the results of which may not be typical or intended. The legality of cannabis products varies by state, and readers are encouraged to check their local laws before purchasing and using cannabis products. Possessing, using, distributing, and/or selling marijuana or marijuana-based products is illegal under federal law as of the writing of this article, regardless of any conflicting state laws. Compliance with the laws of a particular state in no way ensures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal and/or other state laws may be enforced in the future. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice regarding the legal status of cannabis products.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. She writes The Broccoli Report, a bi-weekly newsletter for creative cannabis entrepreneurs.

Food and Drink

Why Makrut Lime Makes a Star Ingredient in Cocktails

The Southeast Asian citrus is intensely aromatic and pairs with rum, gin, tequila, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks

I grew up with a makrut lime tree in my backyard, admiring the double leaves and dimpled citrus fruit that frequently made their way into our family dinners. Makrut limes, which are sometimes referred to kaffir limes (although the term is controversial and has been widely retired), are native to Southeast Asia, but somehow my mom willed a tree to grow in our Southern California home with great success.

To me, makrut meant savoury Thai food: steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaves and sprinkled with chiffonade makrut, simmering tom kha gai with floating bits of the hand-torn citrus leaves, and glistening green curry accentuated by the plant’s aroma.

But to others, makrut is an ideal ingredient in cocktails and other drinks. Such is the case for Fish Cheeks, a Thai restaurant in Manhattan known for its seafood dishes and eclectic, complementary cocktail menu. Beverage director Beau Fontano knew he had to include makrut in his creations, especially because the ingredient is so prominent on the food menu. Makrut lime finds its way in several drinks, most notably as a garnish atop the Thank You Kha, a riff on the acidic coconut stew tom kha gai, and the Manao Mao, a rum-based drink that uses makrut lime bitters.

“I don’t love using the word tiki, but if you think of those tiki rum cocktails, makrut definitely works well in those,” Fontano says. “But I also love it in martinis-there’s something really clean about it. And with makrut lime, if you’re just using the leaves, you can do a lot of rapid infusions.”

Fontano only uses the leaves, because the rinds and juice of makrut limes are famously bitter. “Regular lime has a little bit more sugar content, so that’s why it’s much more approachable in cocktails. Makrut limes tend to be more dry,” he explains. “But when you use the leaves in cocktails, you just smack it to wake it up a little bit and it gets that nice citrusy, refreshing aroma which is really fun.”

The leaves are cut fresh, so each drink has the scent of makrut lime leaves wafting off of them. “I’m sure at one point I will get around to it and try to figure out how to use the juice,” he laughs.

Further north at Paper Tiger in Portland, Maine, makrut lime leaves are also prevalent in a cocktail called Something Scandalous, a tequila-based drink intended to be, in the words of bartender Nick Reevy, “crushed easily.”

Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger

“I went with tequila, specifically, because in Maine it’s 80 degrees and humid pretty much all summer,” Reevy explains. “So I made something you kick back easily. Agave has a really nice softness that elevates the makrut lime, and the main flavour in that drink is the Thai basil.”

The drink is an alluring shade of green and is rounded out by cinnamon syrup and falernum. “Makrut lime is really herbal and bright in a way no other citrus is,” Reevy adds. “It’s interchangeable with other limes, but it just adds this whole other depth of flavour.”Makrut lime has even made its way into hard seltzer, albeit a limited edition drop from Lunar. Founder Kevin Wong knew he wanted to add another citrus drink to his rotation as he witnessed the successes of hard lemonades, but already had a yuzu iteration. Makrut lime seemed like a natural follow-up.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

“It has a very intense citrus fragrance, almost perfumey or soapy,” Wong ponders. “Like I could see Le Labo putting out a makrut lime fragrance. It has such a commanding presence and body.”

To tamper down some of the boldness of the makrut lime, the hard seltzer uses makrut lime leaf extract, lime juice, and cane sugar. The aromatics of the lime are present without too much bitterness; instead, the seltzer is grassy, acidic, and dry. Wong recommends pairing the can with spicy foods, especially Szechuan dry pot.

The makrut lime seltzer is currently sold out, and Wong is unsure whether or not another batch is in the works. “I feel like makrut lime is the greatest secret unknown to the Western world,” he says. “It’s in medicine, candy, herbal drinks, cosmetics and aromatherapy. I think we did the seltzer too early, and I don’t know if the world is ready for us to bring it back yet. Maybe in a couple of years.”

But judging by the growing popularity of makrut lime in beverage menus, the comeback might be sooner than he expects.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.