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What (legal) herbs can I smoke to help me relax?
June 14, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

What legal herbs, when smoked/vaporized, help combat stress and promote relaxation?

Over the last year or so, I have started regularly using marijuana to help combat my anxiety. Recently, however, I have become a bit "burned out" on weed; I enjoy the relaxation that it brings, but I don't like how the high (at least for me) can warp my state of mind so much that I can't fully function, or concentrate on one particular thing.

I am looking for suggestions for legal herbs that will help me relax, but will not necessarily get me high. I have read about people smoking lavender/peppermint/passion flower--any advice along these lines would be greatly appreciated.
posted by lobbyist to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
A lot of people smoke tobacco for precisely this reason.
posted by valkyryn at 11:52 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although the "relaxing" effect of tobacco comes from satisfying the nicotine addiction; nicotine itself is a stimulant. I wouldn't recommend picking up smoking tobacco to relax.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:58 AM on June 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Legal where?
posted by swift at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


skullcap, also valerian root. they are more commonly used to make tea, but you can smoke them. also kava root (i'm not sure if this can be smoked, but it makes a good relaxing tea, or you can buy it in drops.)
posted by sally onion at 12:01 PM on June 14, 2011


Not exactly what you asked, but maybe try a less potent strain of marijuana or smoke less. Also try using a vaporizing which I hear can give you a somewhat different high.
posted by meta87 at 12:01 PM on June 14, 2011


*vaporizer. dammit
posted by meta87 at 12:02 PM on June 14, 2011


I've smoked chamomile before, and it's not unpleasant. I don't know if the effect is chemical or psychological, but I found it relaxing.
posted by lekvar at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2011


Admiral Haddock: Actually, nicotine boosts both epinephrine and beta-endorphin, so it's both stimulating and calming, a rare combination. Doesn't mean it's worth dying over, though.
posted by abcde at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2011


Smoking catnip as you would marijuana is supposed to produce similar, though less pronounced, euphoric and relaxing effects, but I haven't tried it myself.

There are usually a few herbal smoking blends for sale on Etsy. Here are the "herb smoke" search results to get you started.
posted by milk white peacock at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2011


I have used the 84% Kavalactone capsules available on this page to some effect. I find the effects as experienced are a bit less intense than promised...but it certainly does get you more relaxed than placebo. Kind of feels like you just got done meditating...
posted by jnnla at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2011


Smoking shisha is very relaxing for me, and afaik it usually isn't smoked in amounts that people find addictive. ymmv.
posted by sea change at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2011


I am all for smoking weed, but in this case why not take a bath, or go for a walk, or get a massage, or drink a beer, or meditate instead of trying to smoke something to relax.

Honestly, if you need some mind-altering substance to relax, you should really look into why this might be.

Not trying to be preachy, but getting a hold on why you are stressed will help to reduce the stress in and of itself.
posted by TheBones at 12:42 PM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


A friend tells me that smoking catnip does not work.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:06 PM on June 14, 2011


Previously. (Not much there though.)
posted by pupstocks at 1:10 PM on June 14, 2011


This page is a great resource (see the links at the bottom of the page). I've smoked one of his herbal blends before, it contained Elephant's Head and Skullcap and was really nice.
posted by janerica at 1:27 PM on June 14, 2011


I suggest tobacco. It is legal and known to relax people. I just read "The Cigarette Century." One of the biggest reasons soldiers enjoyed smoking was the calming effect. It is also a ritualistic process. I do not smoke and never have, but I understand why people would enjoy it.

As for the killing you part. Any smoke inhaled into the lungs or mouth, done habitually for years, will have negative health consequences. That includes catnip, banana peels, pot....
posted by fifilaru at 2:04 PM on June 14, 2011


I've smoked Damiana in the past. The experience was not unpleasant.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:51 PM on June 14, 2011


I am looking for suggestions for legal herbs that will help me relax

I know you mentioned smoking, but there a number of herbs with anxiolytic effects that are typically taken orally. This article discusses several of them: Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stop by your local drugstore and get a corncob pipe and a packet of Captain Black tobacco. Pipes are ritualistic, a bit fanciful, perfectly legal and, unlike cigarettes or cigars, actually smell pleasant.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:44 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been taking valerian and kava pills to help me with my anxiety problems, when I can manage without the Ativan. I don't know about smoking them, but the pills work pretty well.

As a smoker, I wouldn't say tobacco is your answer. The nicotine high one gets initially, while interesting, is not especially relaxing, as far as I recall. And it's not worth the addiction if you don't already smoke. I say this, mind, as a dedicated smoker. But yeah, not an answer here.
posted by Because at 4:46 PM on June 14, 2011


As for the killing you part. Any smoke inhaled into the lungs or mouth, done habitually for years, will have negative health consequences. That includes catnip, banana peels, pot....

Actually, what evidence there is suggests definite differences related both to chemical composition and sheer volume of smoke inhaled over time between tobacco and marijuana at least. There is very little evidence of chronic lung disease pursuant even to heavy marijuana usage. Tobacco smoke is generally much richer in toxins and carcinogens, and if you're smoking 10-20 joints a day, you have other issues to consider.

As for the question, I too have, um, heard that a vaporizer delivers a different (and less euphoric and intense) high than burning weed, adjusting for type and quantity of course.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:30 PM on June 14, 2011


You don't say where you are. Synthetic cannabis is legal in most of Australia and New Zealand.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:08 PM on June 14, 2011


I wouldn't advise starting smoking tobacco. It's so easy to get addicted, and your cravings will just compound your anxiety.

Seconding the above advice that if you're having to do this frequently, maybe the self-medicating isn't working very well and some professional advice might do you some good.

I have found valerian tea to be relaxing. Not sure if there's a vaporizer-friendly preparation out there or not. As long as I'm completely not answering your question and recommending drinking things, there's always booze.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:26 PM on June 14, 2011


I too have, um, heard that a vaporizer delivers a different (and less euphoric and intense) high than burning weed, adjusting for type and quantity of course.

I wouldn't say (based on my experience) that a vaporizer delivers a "less euphoric/intense experience" -- it's just different. It feels cleaner and bypasses all the physiological smoke-induced side effects. No coughing, etc. This ease of use is a big bonus when using MJ to help treat certain issues like migraine, chronic pain, etc.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:40 PM on June 14, 2011


My mom, a great big hippy, used to smoke herbal cigarettes made of coldsfoot and sage.
posted by klangklangston at 11:33 PM on June 14, 2011


DO NOT start smoking cigarettes. It won't relax you: it'll do the opposite. You'll spend most of your time anticipating the next one. It's an addiction.

Look up Salvia Divinorum. It's legal where I am, maybe not where you are. It's a powerful psychedelic sage extract, and it relaxes you in ways that make Cannabis look like a stimulant. The best analogy I can come up with is that it's like a reboot switch for your brain. It flushes out all those temp files and other junk.

Salvia is powerful, but you can begin by smoking small, imperceptible doses at first. It does wonders.
posted by Acey at 12:17 AM on June 15, 2011


I would personally advise against smoking salvia to relax, unless by relax you mean "have time and space turned inside out, resulting in profound existential panic".
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:07 PM on June 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


The dried flowers of Canary Island Broom are supposedly calming but that's just something I read somewhere, no personal experience.
posted by nanojath at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2011


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