The latest trend being promoted by some wellness influencers on social media is… smoking??
Yes, if you aren’t familiar with them, herbal cigarettes have actually been around for decades. In the US they’ve mostly been used as the cigarettes used by actors who need to smoke in movies — so they don’t get addicted to a deadly habit just because they’re playing a super cool action hero in a ’90s movie.
But in China, South Korea, and Thailand, where smoking had become more of a health crisis than in the States, they actually became popular as an alternative to tobacco. And now some influencers on TikTok and Instagram are promoting them as well, not just as a different take on cigarettes, but as another option in place of weed as well.
These “herbal” cigarettes contain harmless-sounding plants like chamomile, lavender, peppermint, and rose petals. But are they harmless? More on that later…
Recently they’ve gotten a boost from the New Age, witch-lite community, aka “Witchtok,” where some folks claim smoking the various ingredients in place of marijuana or tobacco can actually be beneficial in various ways.
For instance, TikTok user @MelonatedMomma, a self-described spiritual advisor and astrologer, explained in a recent video the various plants she smokes
“Lavender to fall asleep, rose petals if you’re sad, blue lotus for dreams and calming yourself down, damiana for psychic ability, also great for anxiety… chamomile for sleep.”
She also showed a jar of kava, which she said is “close to a psychedelic.” That video got over 6.4 million views. You can see it HERE.
More and more folks are experimenting with smoking these various substances. And as they do, companies are stepping up to meet the demand. In their investigation of the trend, VICE spoke with Romaine Deo, founder of a handmade herbal cigarette company in Australia, who explained:
“In modern day, a lot of traditional practices like smoking organic herbs for specific reasons are left untapped, unresearched, and lost in tradition. [This leaves] us with only knowledge on what’s normalized, which is usually plain toxic tobacco cigarettes.”
Well, that “unresearched” part is mostly true — in that the positive side effects of smoking these various plants has not been documented basically ever. And while those plants may indeed have certain benefits — they better, they’re certainly selling them to us enough for baths and tea — smoking them likely does more harm than good.
Smoke researcher Matt Springer from UC San Francisco explained to the outlet years ago:
“I think it is reasonable to expect that smoke from any burned dried plant material will impair vascular function, regardless of what other physiological effects might result from the specific plant.”
But what about as a way to quit smoking? Deo called herbal cigarettes “tools to help get through addictive relationships with weed [or] tobacco.”
Well, smoking proprietary blends of eleven herbs and spices from well-meaning internet witches is likely not as bad for you as the crap Big Tobacco sells… but we still can NOT recommend you inhale any smoke. It’s just going to be bad for your lungs.
Stay safe out there, y’all!