Healthy alternatives to tobacco that are the perfect mix with cannabis
Cannabis and tobacco go hand-in-hand. In addition, there are many alternatives which not only open up new dimensions of taste, but that are also healthier than tobacco. Some of them are also psychoactive and enhance or complement the smoker’s experience.
Are you one of the many people who mix cannabis with tobacco? Why is this?
Tobacco contains nicotine and at least 250 toxic substances that will damage your health. For decades, the cigarette industry kept telling us that tobacco was the one and only plant for smokers.
It is true that it has been used for centuries in many cultures. But plenty of other plants were used too. They were not only smoked for pleasure, but were also used in traditional healing ceremonies. Damiana, for example, was one of the Maya peoples’ most important medicinal plants.
Over the last few years, more and more natural tobacco blends have come onto the market that do not contain any chemical additives. Blends that do not contain any tobacco at all are becoming increasingly popular.
It’s a bit like cow’s milk. In the past, nobody asked for anything else, but now more and more people are opting for alternatives. There is plenty of truth in the old saying: “Variety is the spice of life.”
So, what are good tobacco substitutes?
Many dried herbs and leaves can be used as tobacco alternatives, but some are better suited than others. That said, some are better suited to it than others. As well as offering a pleasant aroma and taste, a herb or leaf should also burn smoothly. Here, we introduce you to ten alternatives to tobacco that not only taste and smell wonderful, but are also 100% natural and nicotine-free. Let’s get started!
1. Damiana – the aphrodisiac from the Americas
Even its name sounds sweetly seductive. Damiana is regarded as an aphrodisiac in its native Mexico. In addition to its aphrodisiac qualities, consumers report mood-enhancing, anxiety-reducing and relaxing effects.
Damiana leaves contain terpenes, caffeine, tannin and resins. Its taste and odour range from sweet to bitter. Some smokers find that Damiana is too rough on their throats. It is very affordable.
2. Chamomile – the old magic ingredient that grows by the roadside
Good old chamomile tea is one of the best-known remedies for a common cold. Chamomile is also supposed to be good for relieving stress, anxiety, inflammation or to settle the stomach. Along with several essential oils, the yellow flowers contain flavonoids, which are rumoured to have positive effects on health.
Chamomile grows throughout Europe, and so is a good choice for those who are looking for an ecological and healthy alternative to tobacco. However, you do need to buy dried buds and not just cut open a tea bag.
3. Sage – the Cabernet Sauvignon of herbs
Just like the Cabernet grape, sage is very uncomplicated and resistant. Unlike other herbs, sage leaves grow more aromatic as the plant ages. Their flavour continues even after it has flowered. It is best described as pleasantly spicy and bitter. Sage is full of essential oils such as thujone, camphor, cineole and borneol. It has an antibacterial and partly antiviral effect, which is why sage has been used as a medicinal plant throughout the ages.
4. Mate – the trendy pick-me-up from the jungle
The Spanish name “yerba” just means “herb”, but mate is in fact a tree, given its size alone. It is native to South America, and has been drunk as a tea there for centuries. Its complex aroma is not to everyone’s taste – mate tastes earthy, smoky, sweet and sour, all at the same time.
Thanks to its high caffeine content, it is regarded as a stimulant and a slimming aid. This makes mate highly popular in the big cities, and it has been reinvented as a soft drink.
5. Kratom – the power plant from South-East Asia
The leaves of the kratom tree are traditionally used as a medicine, intoxicant and opiate substitute in South-East Asia. In small doses, kratom induces euphoria and acts as a stimulant, whereas in high doses, it acts as a sedative and painkiller. Some Consumers report intense highs from mixing cannabis and kratom. Little is known about how they interact, so be very careful with this combination!
6. Lavender – the blue flower that is a real allrounder
Whether as a herb, or to combat greenfly, tension or treat burns – lavender is a real all-rounder. Just like many varieties of cannabis, it contains the terpene linalool, which is known for its effects on reducing anxiety and inducing calm. Its bitter-sweet taste is a little reminiscent of rosemary.
There are indications that THC, CBD and terpenes reinforce each other’s therapeutic effects. Another benefit: Lavender appears to reduce the itchy feeling in your throat when smoking or vaporizing cannabis.
7. Mint – the ultimate fresh kick
Teas, cocktails, sauces, desserts – mint is the universally adaptable herb that brings a special freshness to food and drink. The cosmetics industry also discovered mint a long time ago. But not all mint is equal.
There are 600 different varieties, the most popular being peppermint and spearmint. They are full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Mint and cannabis are the perfect pair; whether you grow them together or combine them in a joint or vaporizer.
8. Rosemary – the Mediterranean classic
Rosemary lends its unmistakeable aroma to many dishes. You should not overdo it with fresh twigs, as the bitter taste will take over. This herb is full of anti-oxidants and beta-caryophyllene, which are also found in black pepper and cannabis.
Why not enhance the healing effects and combine all three of them in a blended smoke? Helps with depression and inflammation, and strengthens the immune system.
9. Echinacea – the queen of flowers
With its attractive colours and star-shaped flowers, echinacea is everyone’s idea of a beautiful flower. Echinacea supplements fend off colds and strengthen the immune system. As a tea, echinacea really only tastes good when blended with other herbs; in its pure form, the aroma is too flowery (which is no surprise when you look at the flowers).
Echinacea tends to make your mouth and lips tingle, but this only happens with extracts and teas, not when smoking or vaping.
10. Ashwagandha – the Ayurvedic classic
Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, has a prominent place in the Ayurvedic healing system. The plant is known for its soporific qualities, but also helps with anxiety, tension, impotence and inflammation. Traditionally, the leaves and the root are ground into a powder and served as a tea.
Just like tobacco, ashwagandha belongs to the nightshade family. Aside from damiana, it is the only substance on our list that contains traces of nicotine. Like CBD, ashwagandha is said to reduce the anxiety that can be caused by consuming (too much) THC.
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Finding the right blend
Everyone is different and has their own taste. While some will consume only pure cannabis, others swear by tobacco or create their own smoking blend. You need to experiment to find the right blend for you and the perfect balance.
At the end of the day, it just needs to taste good. We would love to hear from you in the comments column about which tobacco alternatives you enjoy most in a joint or vaporizer.
Are you one of the many people who mix cannabis with tobacco? Why? There are better alternatives. We introduce you to ten alternatives to tobacco.
Ask Miss Grass: What Herbs Can You Smoke With Weed?
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Mixing herbs into your joint can perk up the flavor of your bud—or even enhance its magical effects. And you probably already have some of the best ones on hand.
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Dear Miss Grass,
Now that I’m home all day (because, you know, quarantine life), I’ve found that I’m smoking a little more than I used to. I don’t feel bad about it, but I also don’t want to get crazy high every time. I’ve thought about adding some tobacco to my weed, but as a former cigarette smoker I’m kinda nervous about getting back on the nicotine train. Should I just add some CBD to my weed, or, are there other smokable herbs that might be better instead? If so, can you tell me how to mix herbs with cannabis?
x Herb Explorer
Feel you. With everyone staying home these days, it’s definitely easy to smoke more weed. Which obviously we support! The stress-relieving benefits of a good ol’ fashioned J are amazing, especially during these strange times. But it also totally makes sense that there are moments when you’d want to keep things a little lighter. And, anyway, it’s always fun to shake things up.
You’re on the right track with your idea of adding something else to your J. Tobacco and weed is, of course, a classic combination, but—fun fact—tobacco can actually make the effects of weed stronger. A 2009 study found that tobacco increases the vaporization efficiency of cannabis which, in turn, increases the amount of THC inhaled by as much as 45%. Which basically means that a spliff can get you super high, super quick! Sneaky! That’s the opposite of what you want. (And although nicotine itself can be a pretty neat brain-boosting nootropic, it totally makes sense that as an ex-ciggy smoker you’d want to avoid it. And smoking unfiltered tobacco produces a lot of yucky tar.)
So that brings us to the alternatives. One super easy way to not get super high on your usual supply is to simply add some straight-up CBD flower to your joint (or bong or pipe for that matter). CBD can be a calm-enhancing wonder that can also make your high less intense; there are several studies that show that CBD can even help mitigate the effects of THC—which, incidentally, is a smart thing to keep in mind the next time you accidentally get over-baked on an edible.
And then there are also other herbs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of good research that explore whether adding other herbs to your weed can make you *less* high; they may really just help your joint burn slower, like tobacco does in a classic spliff. But the really awesome thing about herbs is that many of the ones that are nice to smoke may also offer their own therapeutic or psychoactive effects—and many even share some of the same terpenes as cannabis.
So, mixing them together can not only enhance the flavor of your bud, it can also complement its other effects—or even bring new ones to the party. You know how lavender in the bath can help you relax and chamomile in a tea can help you feel sleepy? Same deal here. Plants are magical! As Dejanae Evins—one of Miss Grass’ favorite weed experts and host of our Instagram Live series High Q’s—puts it: “Mixing smokable herb blends into your cannabis ritual really emphasizes how expansive and creative we can be in the way we approach self-care.”
But before we talk about exactly how to mix herbs with cannabis—and which ones are most awesome—it’s important to point out that smoking anything could potentially harm your bod, so please be smart about whatever you light up. Definitely choose organically-grown, food-grade herbs; and, if possible, go a step further and buy ones that are also ethically-raised. That way you’re not tainting your beautiful bud with any gross, unwanted chemicals and toxins. (There are some very respectable companies, like Barbari, that offer organic herbal blends made specifically for smoking.)
Okay, back to the fun stuff. A good rule of thumb when mixing herbs with weed is to “start low and go slow”—decent advice for anytime you’re consuming anything new, by the way—with a just a sprinkle of one or two dried herbs. (Remember, some herbs, like mint, sage, and eucalyptus can impart a very strong flavor.) When using a pre-mixed herb blend, a ratio of 25% herb blend to 75% cannabis is a reasonable place to start, but if you’re feeling all what-the-hell, you can also do a 1:1 ratio, which is what Evins does. She recommends playing around with the placement of the herbs within the joint, too: “Sometimes I like to switch it up, adding a little bit of the herb blend at the base of a cone, saving the herbal tokes for last.” Like a dessert.
Check out the MG mini cheat sheet below featuring some favorite herbs to smoke along with the effects they may have when mixed with cannabis (or just on their own). Happy toking, Herb Explorer! Report back on how it goes.
Best Buds: How to Mix Herbs With Cannabis and Hemp
Ashwaganda – may alleviate stress and promote good vibes
Blue Lotus Flower – may enhance the relaxing, mind-opening effects of cannabis
Blue Vervain – quiets mind and boosts mood
Chamomile – may aid digestion and enhance relaxation
Damiana – may promote relaxation and euphoria; often used as an aphrodisiac
Echinacea – may help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and support the endocannabinoid system
Eucalyptus – provides a spicy, menthol-like flavor and may open the lungs
Hibiscus – said to purify the blood; often used as an aphrodisiac
Holy Basil – may alleviate stress and reduce cortisol levels
Hops – a relative of cannabis that shares the terpene myrcene; can enhance relaxation
Jasmine – calms and balances emotions; boosts libido
Lavender – adds a beautiful flavor, contains the terpene Linalool which may promotes relaxation
Lemon Balm – mild sedative and sleep aid; evokes feelings of bliss
Mint – adds a fresh taste and might help clear respiratory passages
Mugwort – has a sage-like flavor and may promote restfulness, creativity, and lucid dreams
Mullein – cleans and soothes the lungs
Passionflower – has a sweet flavor and may also amplify or prolong a high
Rose – a few petals add a delicate floral scent and flavor
Rosemary – contains the terpene beta-caryophyllene which may help inflammation and soothe stress
Sage – can induce relaxation, help digestion, and stimulate appetite; a little goes a long way
Saint John’s Wort – brightens mood and may soothe muscle aches
Skullcap – calms nerves; gentle sedative
Yerba Mate – doesn’t affect flavor or add an extra high but makes a pleasant alternative to tobacco
Mixing herbs into your joint can perk up the flavor—or even enhance weed's magical effects. Here's how to mix herbs with cannabis. And which herbs are best.