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Herbal Smoking Therapy

Smoking anything for therapeutic purposes seems like a contradiction, but history tells a different story. Since the dawn of history, humans have been using smoke produced from burning medicinal herbs for pleasure and curative purposes. The culture of smoking, specifically the smoking of herbs for medical purposes has evolved over time as part of different traditional healing methods.There is abundant evidence of various cultures in which smoking herbs was an integral part of the healing process. From Darius, King of Persia, in the 5th century BCE, via traditional healing practices in South America, to the great 10th century Muslim healer Avicenna who described the smoking of medicinal herbs in his book "The Canon of Medicine".


The smoking of herbs was developed into an organized method by Indian healers who developed the traditional India medicine ("Ayurveda"). This 4000-year old method describes various uses of herbs and emphasizes the special qualities in using them for smoking: "…smoking the herbs enhances and realizes their qualities…". Ayurveda literature describes the process of preparing a smoking blend of herbs for different purposes and the way in which smoking is used as a means of healing. The smoking of herbs is still implemented in Ayurveda clinics throughout India today and is studied in Indian universities as part of Ayurveda studies towards doctoral degrees, exactly as it was described in Ayurveda sources thousands of years ago.


Even in the US we have a history of smoking herbs for healing purposes, including Cannabis or Hemp. The picture to the right is of a 1907 advertisement for Grimault's Indian Cigarettes, emphasizing their alleged efficacy for the relief of asthma and other respiratory conditions. These were cannabis cigarettes that also contained leaves of Belladonna as a filler but had no tobacco in them.


Smoking CBD Hemp Flower

Smoking cannabidiol (CBD) might not be the only way to consume this increasingly popular cannabis compound, but believe it or not, there's reason to believe that it is one of the most effective ways to experience its benefits. The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. One study, Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics published in 2017, states that “smoking provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery”. 


When smoking, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs before being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. It reaches peak concentrations in plasma within 3 minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt almost directly after use. 


With ingestion of CBD by way of gel capsules, tinctures, or edibles, CBD is first sent through the digestive tract and metabolized in the liver, where it is broken down before finally being sent into the bloodstream. When medications are administered in ways other than intravenously, the bioavailability rate naturally drops. This is due to incomplete absorption and what's known as first-pass metabolism — when the concentration of a drug is reduced before it reaches the circulatory system.


CBD affects multiple sets of receptors throughout the body by exerting indirect influence on these receptors, thereby increasing the levels of endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body. While CBD doesn't get you high or intoxicated, it has been known to provide a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. CBD can make some people feel sleepy, relaxed, generally at easy, happy, or even energetic. In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been noted to provide quick relief of swelling and pain. 

Methods for Smoking

Raw Hemp Flowers containing CBD can be smoked in many modern ways, including pipes, hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or filled into pre-rolled tubes like cigarettes. Another method that might appeal to those that are not interested in smoking using these forms, is a traditional method used in Ayurvedic treatment called“Dhoomapana” or “dhoomapanam”(meaning smoking).


This method is used for both preventive and therapeutic purposes and includes smoking the leaves or other parts of medicinal plants. These plant materials are burned in an open vessel with a funnel type covering and a small opening at the top where the medicated fumes exit. Here, the individual is kept in a certain position, usually required to sit straight, attentive, with his/her mouth open. The fumes exiting are inhaled through one of the nostrils while the other nostril is closed and this is then exhaled from the mouth. The same process is followed alternatively using the other nostril. Inhalation should be done three times – inhaling the smoke and letting it out together form one bout; three such bouts should be done each time. 

In Ayurvedic practices this is a fine treatment for various sinus and respiratory diseases. Acute sinusitis, asthma, sneezing, infections of the lower respiratory tract, cough etc are treated using Dhoomapan. The removal of mucous toxins also rejuvenates the person’s mental status by giving him/her a total feeling of freshness. The smoke helps to dry the excess mucous, and also lowers the pain-causing inflammations of the sinus cavities and respiratory tract. The herbs and spices used in the procedure have special properties to act against the mucous wastes.

as a Tobacco replacement

Although cannabis has long been considered as a “drug of abuse”, in recent years an increasing number of studies published in the biomedical literature indicate that either the plant itself or some of its compounds may be of use in treating addictions. For example, a recent review sets out the current evidence on the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in modulating addictive behaviour, looking at the results of research with animals on the potential role of some cannabinoids in treating psychostimulant addiction.

Some evidence from clinical trials suggests that one among the numerous benefits of CBD is an aid to those who wish to quit smoking cigarettes. A 2013 study by researchers at the University College of London showed CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by study participants by roughly 40%. 


Also, a survey of more than 5,000 CBD users found that 24% have used it to quit smoking and replace cigarettes with smoking hemp or vaping, according to data from market research firm Brightfield Group. What’s more, 41% of quitters have replaced tobacco entirely with hemp CBD, according to the same report. Tobacco use costs nearly $300 billion a year in direct health care and lost productivity, according to former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb. And 480,000 Americans die every year from tobacco use, mainly from smoking cigarettes, according to the FDA.

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