Dutch Spirit and the Art of Vaporization
There are many ways to enjoy a sunny Amsterdam Sunday morning, but walking around the city’s largest woodland, flower hunting with a couple of charming hippies is among the nicest.
More specifically, we’re with Manoj Hermans and Gert Jan Evelo, makers of the Dutch Spirit herbal mixes, blended pouches of non-tobacco for smoking, vaping and tea making. Though a little late in the season, we’re identifying the common ingredients of their Lung Mix, three of which we find.
On our frequent breaks, Manoj whips out his Indian flute and plays a tune; tobacco-free joints are rolled in the sunshine. It’s times like this we remember why we live in this city.
Talking About Herbs
Thanks to drug company pressure, there are increasing restrictions on talking about the possible health benefits of herbs. Add a widespread taboo against accepting that any good can come of drug delivery via the lungs, thanks to the negative consequences of tobacco smoking, and it can be hard to get any real facts.
The Hunt for Alternatives
The search for the perfect blend of herbs for Dutch Spirit began in 1993 when the health-conscious plant-lovers were looking for an alternative to tobacco.
It took a lot of research followed by trial and error before they felt they had hit the right combination of non-addictive, beneficial herbs. In fact, they developed a number of herb mixes designed to strengthen various systems in the body: the lungs, the stomach and intestines, the eyes, and the heart.
Being Kind to Your Lungs
Their mix of six herbs that strengthen and heal the lungs, its use and effects, is one of their more popular blends. These are the ingredients, with their descriptions of their actions based on The New Herbal, by Richard Mabey:
Sage (Salvia officinalis): This herb has strong anti-bacterial and antiseptic effects in rooms and other spaces as well as in the body. Salvia is very good against infections of the throat, mouth and lungs. It strengthens the nervous system and stimulates the digestion.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis): The name of the herb says it all! Contains a lot of silica, which renovates the elasticity of the lungs. This plant has a calming and cleaning effect, especially around the chest area. Very sensitive to car pollution, the lungwort for Dutch Spirit has to be sourced in northern Albania.
Plantain (Plantago major): Herb is especially good in case of bronchitis catarralis. It relaxes the breathing rhythm immediately and opens up the lungs, so it is very good against asthma. It also repairs lung damage.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): This lightens up the lungs and creates strong power of concentration. The azuline in this plant reduces infection in the lungs and creates an overall healing effect.
Red clover (Trifoliun pratense): This is a relaxant and expectorant. It relaxes the body and heartbeat rhythm. It works well in cases of chronic coughing, illness of the bronchi and feverishness.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) has been smoked in Europe since before tobacco came to the continent. It contains musilaginosa, which stimulates the dissolving of mucus, and has strong calming and healing effects.
Gert Jan comments, “It’s the right mixture; it smokes perfectly and is made of the best and healthiest herbs for the lungs that there are.”
Smoke Good, Vape Better
The mix can be smoked, or burnt as incense or drunk as tea; each will promote the health of the lungs.
Gert Jan and Manoj recommend vaporization as the purest and most effective way of getting the benefits inside you. “Since anything that burns produces tar, we recommend that a vaporizer is used,” says Gert Jan.
The Lung Herb Mix loosens and helps cough up any existing tar in your lungs from smoking tobacco and joints, so it really is a restorative as well as a preventative part of taking control of one’s wellbeing.
Respecting the Holy Herbs
All Dutch Spirit blends are hand-mixed and hand-packed with ritual and ceremony, in the presence of crystals and following meditation, in limited editions.
“We made it for ourselves, now we produce a maximum of 500 packs a month,” says Gert Jan. “It’s all about good health, which is why we also chose to make it available for anyone who wants to smoke healthily.”
A City Built on Herbs
The pair sees themselves as the heirs to Amsterdam’s herb trading past, says Manoj. “The city of Amsterdam was built on herbs and the trading of them; it was the source of wealth of the city’s 17th century Golden Age. We are just the newest incarnation of that spirit.”
“The name Dutch Spirit also refers to the philosophy of tolerance and open-mindedness,” he adds, “since the ‘7th herb’ – cannabis – makes an ideal addition to perfect the herb mix.”
Serving Herbs for 260 Years
Later in the week, we take a trip to Amsterdam’s Nieuwmarkt, an attractive square on the edge of the city’s red light district. We’re here to visit another reminder of the city’s Golden Age, the Jacob Hooy shop.
This Herbs and Spice Seller has been on the square since 1743, and entering today is like slipping back in time to the age when its shelves bulged with the exotic goods shipped from around the world by the East India Company.
It’s no surprise that Jacob Hooy has been the official herb supplier to the Dutch Royal Family since 1815. The family-run business still harbors an encyclopedic knowledge of flowers, plants, roots and seeds.
Hunt your own wild herbs, find a quality herbalist or just get hold of a pack of Dutch Spirit non-tobacco herb mix if you want to try the health benefits of ‘phyto-remediation’ with your vaporizer.