The reasons for using blends are almost as varied as the number of plants that you can roll into your joint.
As spring takes over, our blessed green spaces become inundated with flowers and herbs sprouting up everywhere. Happily, many of these are entirely safe to smoke. There are numerous benefits to incorporating spices, flowers, and herbs into your weed. It smells good, looks good, and tastes good. Medicinal properties such as relieving insomnia, pain, or stress, can be supported and even heightened. Smoking blends can also stretch your stash a bit, essentially watering down your weed and bringing your tolerance levels down while still satisfying your urge to smoke. Smoking blends are a time-honored tradition that religious folk around the world have utilized for millennia to commune with the energies of the natural and spirit worlds. Whether you vape or smoke, if you’ve ever been curious about mixing your cannabis consumption with other plants, this season is a great time to experiment.
As an aside, make sure you do your research or talk to an herbalist or naturopath to make sure a plant is safe for you. If you are pregnant, some herbs are off-limits. If you are taking pharmaceuticals, some plants are off limits. And if you don’t buy your supplies, be wise about where you collect your harvest. Use only organic sources. Flowers grown next to a busy street, for example, may have been exposed to all sorts of toxins, and harvesting flowers from private property could be a real buzz-kill for the gardener who planted them.
To make your own blends, start with a simple recipe, quality ingredients, and a spirit for adventure. If the idea of mixing your cannabis with other herbs seems odd, remember one of the most popular ways to smoke weed—blunts—is a blend. It’s just cannabis mixed with tobacco, usually rolled in tobacco leaf papers. Many lovely premade smoking blends are available, and it can be helpful to start off with premade blends to get a feel for how you work with them. However, I also highly recommend making your own, and dial in the exact effect you would like to invoke. An ideal smoking or vaping mixture should include a few different herbs or flowers for a well-rounded flavor and experience. I recommend a combination of two parts binding herbs, one part effects enhancer, and one part flavor, but feel free to play with these portions.
Binding herbs: These will “bind” the other ingredients into a cohesive blend. Raspberry leaf, damiana, hops, coltsfoot, and mullein all make terrific base plants, relatively cheap and smooth to smoke. Each has favorable properties: Mullein and coltsfoot are suitable for respiratory ailments, raspberry leaf is great for cramps, and damiana has aphrodisiacal qualities. Hops are calming. All five are especially tasty when mixed with marigolds, uva ursi, or sage. But be warned that these flowers and herbs can dry out, producing a harsher smoke. If you find that’s the case, gently mist your plant material before smoking or vaping. It should smooth out.
Effects herbs: These are the ingredients in the blend that have an “effect.” Great effects flowers and herbs include chamomile, basil, rosemary, lavender, thyme, lobelia, blue lotus, and eucalyptus, just to name a few. Each has intense flavors and medicinal qualities of its own, making it a perfect way to bring out the nuances in your weed. For instance, people experiencing anxiety often use the strain Headband for its calming “heady” sensation; chamomile is going to support that calming effect and add a lovely, sweet honey flavor. If you want a puff or two before bed but all you have is a super-motivating sativa like Pineapple Express, creating a 50/50 mix with lavender flowers is definitely going to help mellow you out. Basil is excellent for nausea and will help you focus. Lobelia, also known as Indian tobacco, has an alkaloid called lobeline that the body treats like nicotine, so people use it in blends to help them stop smoking cigarettes.
Flavor herbs: Self-explanatory. Some great ones to start with are lavender, anise, and peppermint. Get creative here (safely, of course). Spearmint, lemon or lemongrass, clove, cinnamon, rose, stevia, licorice root, vanilla bean, orange peels—all will provide a delicious layer of flavor, and can help coax out some of the hidden characters in cannabis.
But those are just the basics. Other types of herbs can vary the smoking properties. For example, if you like your blend to have a more luxurious, thicker smoke, like tobacco, you can add blackberry leaf or willow bark for that extra oomph.
Do some research on sites like Smokable Herbs or The Herbal Academy, and compile a list of flowers, herbs, and spices that are safe to smoke and will result in the medical effects you desire. Then head to a local apothecary. If you’re in Seattle, I recommend Cunning Crow, Rainbow Remedies, or Sugar Pill for your herbs. Ask lots of questions and take some notes, and say thank you for their time and wisdom.
Use a mortar and pestle or your grinder to get your herbs uniform. Grab a big bowl and add a 1/4 teaspoon per part of each herb to start, adjusting for flavor and strength as you go. If your herbs are unusually dry, add a couple of drops of water or honey to bring up the moisture. Go for a consistency similar to the stickiness of nugs.
To get you started, I have some recommendations:
Get Up Stand Up Blend is excellent for going out and partying. Mix one part mullein, one part damiana, one part rosemary flowers and leaves, and one part ginseng/lemon/orange peels with an exhilarating sativa like Grapefruit.
The Calm Down Blend is ideal for the end of the night, or if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. Just mix one part hops, one part marshmallow flowers, one part chamomile flowers, and one part stevia with something seriously mellow like Granddaddy Purple or White Rhino.
The Breathe Blend: To help a cough, blend one part mullein, one part coltsfoot, one-half part eucalyptus, one-half part sage, and one part peppermint with a smooth indica like Afghan Kush. It might seem counterintuitive to smoke something to help a cough, but it’s an alternative treatment used around the world. But if smoking alone just feels wrong, you can pair this blend with some edibles.
The Liquid Lounge Blend: To help with cramps or other sore muscles, mix one part raspberry leaf, one part willow bark, one part sassafras, one part wormwood and a tiny pinch of clove with sweet and spicy indicas high in CBD, like Milky Way, Sweet & Sour Widow, or Shiatsu Kush.
The Serpent’s Kiss: A sexy blend to share with a lover or lovers, two parts damiana, one part blue lotus, one part rose, one part stevia, with dried apple peels, and vanilla bean, Moisten the blend with a few drops of pomegranate juice. Pair it with super sexy strains like Sour Dream, Green Crack, or Hindu Skunk.
Another way to bring the garden into your canna-routine is to create flower wraps. Twitter user @simple_sasha broke the Internet when she posted a video demonstrating how to create a blunt-like wrap with fresh rose petals. It smokes smoothly and looks sexy as hell. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since roses have added flavor to sweets, teas, and smoking blends like shisha all over Europe and India for centuries.
HOW TO ROLL A ROSE BLUNT pic.twitter.com/2Cr26rzllF
— Sasha💋 (@simple_sasha) September 14, 2017
If all that sounds like too much work, never fear. Many vape-cartridge makers now offer options with essential oil blends, opening up your possibilities past what might be growing on your front stoop. Some folks are recommending adding essential oils to your cartridges, but I would encourage talking with an aromatherapist or naturopath first to get advice on the proper dilution rates. If you are vaping, remember to keep your temperatures low by taking small, short pulls. And don’t forget to savor the flavor!
Portions of this were originally published in Seattle Weekly.