For cigarette smokers and those who use cannabis, it can be challenging to beat the habit.

In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that tobacco kills more than half a million adults yearly in the United States.

Many smokers want to stop, and over 400,000 of them call state-funded quitlines for assistance each year.

Marijuana use among tobacco users is common and may impede quitting, but co-use rates among quitline callers are unknown.

In an effort to stop, some people are taking natural routes such as smoking lavender and other herbs to beat the habit while “simulating” the act of smoking.

But despite lavender being unapproved, with unknown side-effects, some people believe that it can be helpful.

At Indy100, we spoke with health professionals, herbal experts, and those who’ve experienced smoking the lavender to better understand the phenomena.

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What are the benefits of lavender?

For one, its soothing properties have been found to reduce stress.

Dr Jenelle Kim, founder of JBK Wellness Labs, said: “Lavender has a wide range of benefits. When inhaled as an essential oil, it has been found to reduce stress and anxiety in clinical studies. Further research shows lavender’s ability to lower anxiety in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery and in people visiting the dentist. It’s also known to improve sleep, reduce pain, lessen tension, and induce a general sense of relaxation. When applied topically, lavender is known to reduce inflammation and scarring and improve acne due to its antibacterial qualities.”

Dr Kim also noted that most lavender is available as” loose leaves,” which is customary for use as a tea, “so there could be additional ingredients added that are not safe to smoke and inhale.”

Why is lavender so calming?

The calming sensation of lavender due to linalool, an aromatic terpene also found in cannabis.

“Linalool is a terpene also found in cannabis that has anti-anxiety, stress relief, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant affect. Terpenes are the fragrant part of various herbs, spices and plants,” said Ashley Wynn-Grimes MS, RN-BC, CEO of Cannabis Nursing Solutions, author of Asa’s Medicine and executive director of Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association.

She also noted that lemon is another example of something that contains a terpene called limonene.

Wynn-Grimes also noted that applying heat to anything alters the chemical composition , so she wouldn’t recommend smoking lavender. However, topicals such as oils she suggests will help “reap the benefits.”

“Oils applied topically could be a great option for skin inflammation or aromatherapy via a diffuser has been very helpful as long as it is used intentionally like as an anchor in meditation practices. Topical application does not penetrate to the bloodstream. This is true for cannabis topicals as well,” she said.

Heather Hanks, a nutritionist with USA RX., also noted that smoking anything is not the best because of the damage it can do to your lungs, but recommends “inhaling” the herb instead.

“I would recommend using inhaling lavender instead. Aromatherapy is safer than smoking cigarettes and can still provide relief from anxiety, depression, etc.,” she said.

Lavender oilLavender oilShutterstock / Halil ibrahim mescioglu

What are the reasons why people opt to smoke lavender?

Wynn Grimes said that people will try lavender due to “fear” around “cannabis medicine.”

“They’d rather shy away from cannabinoids like THC because of the psychoactive aspect of it. Our general population is miseducated on cannabis as a medicine and feel lavender is a harmless option.”

However, for Leo Ramirez, the co-founder of GrubbyCat, who has been a tobacco user for nearly a decade, lavender helped him beat his “nasty nicotine habit.”

“I have been a tobacco smoker for nearly 10 years now, and lavender was a godsend for me and the only thing that was able to get me off that nasty nicotine habit. I also smoke marijuana from time to time, but it was not something that has been able to stop me from smoking cigarettes,” he said.

But lavender was a major help for him to “kick that habit for good.”

“Whenever I would try to quit smoking with other methods...the mental and psychological withdrawal symptoms were the worst. When I would feel a craving for a cigarette after quitting though (for the first few days) I smoked lavender instead,” Ramirez said.

The lavender gave him the same “calm that cigarettes normally would,” and his urge to smoke cigarettes was quelled, which is what nicotine gums and other methods couldn’t do for him.

He continued: “I owe my life to this little herb, and still occasionally smoke it in the evenings after some busy days, but I am not addicted to it, and am no longer addicted to nicotine (9 months now without a cigarette!!).”

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