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Sacred Smokes and Intention Setting

I wanted to address the political climate & white supremacy that we are witnessing and share how I use smoking herbs along with my ritual work. A few of our blends would work nicely for this purpose: Guerrilla Puffs, Gentle and Protective, Clear Mind and...Astral in Body (available in store only!). 

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Smoking Herbs vs Tobacco

Smoking Herbs vs Tobacco


I have been getting a lot of questions lately about the safety of smoking herbs (vs tobacco) because it is still smoking, and smoking is bad for your lungs. Unfortunately there is not a lot of scientific research on this topic. I am looking into starting to collect information on lung volume in people who use my smokes (stay tuned for that!). For now I will share my thoughts, personal experiences, and customer reports on the matter. I am going to limit this to a physical body discussion and a discussion of the relationship with the smoking process. There are so many aspects to the problem that Big Tobacco started that if I don't limit myself I could write a book about it!

My original intent when I created my herbal smoking blends was to address the reasons why people engage with tobacco and provide them herbal support for those needs and thereby a way to break the addiction to tobacco. I found three primary reasons why people are smoking: psychic protection/spirit support: Gentle & Protective blend; physical body dependency/withdrawal symptoms: Take it Easy blend, and social smokers: True to You blend.

To elaborate/for example, some people use tobacco when they are already drinking or doing other drugs and really don't smoke otherwise. These are our social smokers/people with addictive tendencies and the herbs in True to You are all partners in supporting people in social situations and/or in situations where drugs or alcohol are often present or desired.  My smoking blends are also (hopefully!) used by people who have never had tobacco but, choose them instead of habit-forming tobacco or if they can't or prefer not to smoke marijuana.

In this light, you can see the idea is to help decrease overall smoking. People who have quit tobacco using my smokes report that they smoke my herbs a few a day for a while, occasionally, or only when they would otherwise break down and start smoking tobacco again. Though smoking a few a day is a lot, it is far better than a pack plus a day that they were previously smoking. In each instance the person in question is smoking far less than tobacco and feel they are able to separate the addiction from the ritual of smoking. They also report feeling a greater sense of wellbeing. Ultimately because the addiction is broken I find people are not in control of their decision to smoke. As a former smoker of tobacco I experienced "needing" to smoke even when my lungs were very sick. If you are smoking something non-addictive it is very unlikely that you would do so if it was making you feel uncomfortable and not making you high.

On a purely physical level habitual smoking is not good. Smoke produces tar (barbeques and camp fires included). In some cultures however, occasional smoking is seen as a beneficial option for delivering medicine and one that has some advantages. For example: mullein was smoked in some Native American cultures as a treatment for pneumonia and other lung ailments. In my personal practice I have tried this remedy as a tea and not had as much luck as with smoking it, particularly if there is a lot of dampness in the lungs. As a former asthmatic, I find that I am so sensitive that I cannot smoke anything if it does not have mullein in it. I find it very helpful and it is in all of my blends for that reason. In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional medicine from India) for patients with digestive/absorption issues, breathing in smoke (sometimes they are just burning in the area, such as a large bonfire of herbs) is a way to bypass the gut and get the medicine in the body. 

I recommend trying the herbal cigarettes for yourself. See how they compare to other things that you smoke. If you are concerned about your lungs, I definitely recommend trying the filtered cigarettes. Pipe smoking is even easier on your lungs because the paper is not smoked. Tune into your body and see what it's comfortable with. If the process feels okay, then find the blend(s) that support you the most. I find that during certain periods a particular blend will really help me out and then it changes.  However if you are a smoker and have trouble quitting cold turkey then they might help you to have a healthier option, ie a nonaddictive one. I made these into cigarettes because for most people I talk with they say that having an option that is just as easy as grabbing a tobacco stick is very helpful to making a better decision. 

Good luck and keep the questions coming. 


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Big Tobacco and Targeted Advertising

Big Tobacco and Targeted Advertising

Big tobacco has been targeting the LGBTQ community as well as African Americans. These populations also show an greater tobacco addiction rates. Here's some info to get you motivated to quit smoking tobacco. 


LGBT (from UCSF)

Smoking Prevalence: In 2013, the smoking rate was 51% higher among LGBT adults (26.6%) than straight adults (17.6%).

  • Overall, sexual minorities are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than their heterosexual counterparts. Bisexual women are up to three and a half times more likely to be smokers than heterosexual women.
  • Smoking rates among LGBT youth are estimated to be considerably higher (38%- 59%) than those among adolescents in general (28% -35%).

Race/Ethnicity (from the CDC)

Current cigarette smoking was highest among non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives and people of multiple races and lowest among Asians.

  • Nearly 22 of every 100 non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives (21.9%)
  • More than 20 of every 100 non-Hispanic multiple race individuals (20.2%)
  • Nearly 17 of every 100 non-Hispanic Blacks (16.7%)
  • More than 16 of every 100 non-Hispanic Whites (16.6%)
  • More than 10 of every 100 Hispanics (10.1%)
  • 7 of every 100 non-Hispanic Asians* (7.0%) 

Advertising strategies by Big Tobacco

In the more distant past, white elite men were generally more likely to smoke. In order to broaden their sales cigarette companies have strategically targeted various populations. 

Industry documents show that tobacco companies were aware of high smoking rates among sexual minorities, and marketing plans illustrate the companies’ efforts to exploit the LGBT market. (more here) There was a notable project by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched in 1995 and call Project SCUM. Their goal: 'to sell cigarettes to members of the "alternative lifestyle" areas of San Francisco...The acronym "SCUM" stood for "subculture urban marketing."' from the wikipedia page

Targeting the African American community:

"In fact, Big Tobacco has been targeting the African American community for decades. Back in the ‘80’s, a major tobacco company paid people to go into inner-city neighborhoods and hand out free samples of menthol (and some regular) cigarettes in an effort to acquire African Americans as customers.

Today, in cities like DC, there are still up to 10 times more tobacco ads in black neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods. Another study done in DC (just three years ago) even found that little cigars and cigarillos were cheaper in neighborhoods with a higher density of black residents." from Stop Profiling/

Brown Bear Alternatives:

I created my three original blends: Take it Easy, True to You and Gentle & Protective to help people quit tobacco. If you have any questions about which blend might be best for you check out the product descriptions, read our blog posts about people quitting and feel free to contact Brown Bear Herbs. These blends are intended to address the underlying reasons people smoke through non-addictive herbs. They are not intended to be used habitually.

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Guerrilla Puffs-our new seasonal smoke

 Here's a little info on the new blend of smokes.

Link to Guerrilla Puffs

Look at these beautiful flowers that you're smoking. This one is Calendula:Calendula flowers

Below are mullein flowers. Both are so golden and sunshiney! 

Mullein flowers

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Giving up Tobacco--Margaux Muller

Giving up Tobacco--Margaux Muller

"Brown Bear smokes were exactly what I needed at the time. These smokes not only allow you to help break a dirty habit, they allow you to go further into self and connect with who you truly are. My lungs, my mind, and my heart are much clearer and happier."  -Margaux Muller

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Different Ways to Use Brown Bear Smoking Blends--Jake Gottfredson

Different Ways to Use Brown Bear Smoking Blends--Jake Gottfredson

Jake Gottfredson smoked tobacco for seven years, about 15 cigarettes per day.  He primarily liked to smoke when out on a stroll or when taking a moment to himself for coffee and a smoke. Originally, he got started using tobacco because he was blending it with his marijuana. Like many solitary smokers, he enjoys using the Gentle & Protective blend. Lately he has also been grooving on the roughness of the Sexy Smokes as well. Since quitting a month ago he as been smoking three to five Brown Bear cigarettes a day. He writes, "I'm better able to recognize a nicotine craving. Sometimes it's nice to have a smoke with coffee, in a ritualistic way. Now, I can do that without addiction, without tobacco."
Jake particularly recommends the tins of Brown Bear Herbs smoking blends as a mixer with marijuana. He likes it to stretch his weed supply out and also to keep from getting too high.

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Quitting Smoking--Jimi Wester

Quitting Smoking--Jimi Wester

Jimi Wester smoked tobacco, a pack a day, for the last 22 years. This New Year's Eve, he decided to quit. It has been 36 days! Jimi has been rolling his own cigarettes from our bulk tins. He uses Take it Easy and Gentle & Protective, and now smokes a Brown Bear herbal cigarette 1-3x/day. He writes, "I had so much fear around quitting smoking tobacco. Being able to smoke something while I quit tobacco helped me to walk through the fear. I really enjoy smoking so being able to enjoy a cigarette without being tied to addiction is beautiful."

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