Tracy Lee Stark
Photographer and Multimedia Producer
3 minute read
2 Jul 2020
8:33 am

Out of cigarettes? Here’s some backyard herbs you can smoke

Tracy Lee Stark

Rooibos tea, basil and lavender are some other alternatives.

Anti-smoking groups have called for swingeing increases in tobacco product taxes.

It’s nearly 100 days since the country shut its doors on the selling of cigarettes and tobacco, which appears to have led to other methods for smokers to get their fix.

While the illegal cigarette trade is booming, with prices skyrocketing to over R100 for a box of cigarettes, many are buckling under the highly-priced new order. Smokers are now expressing that they can no longer support the illegal trade.

Smokers Unite, one of the many smoker support groups on Facebook, with over 31 thousand members, has indicated that smokers are opting for alternatives.

Many desperate smokers have even started smoking rooibos tea and other herbs to help with cravings.

Dee Stephens, owner and founder of Herbology, says that “Smoking herbs is not a ‘new fad’, and it is quite ancient in its origins, from the native American Indians to our very own African cultures”.

“Inhaling the smoke of herbs, whether it was in a tent or a pipe, has always been used for health and spiritual purposes.”  She adds that smoking herbs have the same benefits for your health as when you eat them, although some, directly heal the lungs when inhaled.

Herbology offers a range of blends using only organic chemical-free herbs, sticks, roots, flowers, barks, leaves and stems in their blends.

They only use “whole herbs” which means that they are not crushed, and not radiated. There is no tobacco or cannabis in any of the blends.   Stephens says that most of her herb blends remove the nicotine tar from the lungs and start repairing small lesions on the lungs.

If you are attempting to quit the tobacco habit, Stephens has a blend of five different ancient tobacco-type herbs that act on the same receptors as the nicotine does, thereby tricking the brain into believing it has nicotine, while at the same time, the additional herbs she uses helps stop the cravings, the agitation and the anxiety.

Smoke blends can be consumed in several ways, although some people prefer the relaxing ritual of smoking a pipe, and others prefer more elaborate contraptions, like vape rigs, and the good old rolled cigarillo.

Until tobacconists open, rolling papers cannot be purchased.  Stephens advises on using a pipe to smoke the blends.  Although bible pages and newspapers seem to be the perfect rolling paper, the inks used can be highly toxic and these should be avoided.

Stephens says that while smoking rooibos tea won’t kill you, you’d be better off with lavender blossoms or chamomile tea. Both are non-toxic and will have a calming effect when smoked.

Avid smoker Hendri Van Niekerk has come up with his own recipe for a smoking blend, mostly from things found in his garden.  He mixes sage with edible flowers, dries them whole on a low heat in his oven.  Once the herbs are dried he adds a small amount of his homegrown cannabis.  This makes a relaxing but better-tasting smoke.  The amount of cannabis used is minimal so he does not get “stoned”, but says “it adequately takes the edge off”.

Another herbologist from KwaZulu-Natal offered her own recipe. Equal parts of basil, oats and lobelia. She says that the lobelia is known to aid with asthma and even depression, but cautions that while herbs may be natural, some taken in large dosages may have adverse side effects and you should always check with a certified health practitioner.

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