Smudging, or the ceremonial burning of herbs and resins, is an ancient indigenous tradition for cleansing a person or environment of negative and unclean energy.

Photograph courtesy of Goddess Life


Research studies have proven that the smoke emitted from herbs is a powerful antiseptic that purifies the air of 94% of harmful bacteria for up to 24 hours. The results of a study that set out to examine the uses of smudging in Western medicine were published in a 2006 scientific paper titled “Medicinal Smokes,” in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.  According to the abstract, “All through time, humans have used smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness.  The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body, and lower costs of production.” 

In the same research periodical, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology stated that the absence of pathogenic bacteria in the open room, even after 30 days, is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the use of medicinal smoke treatment. “We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke, it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”


Shifting Energy

Our bodies have a dense electromagnetic field, or aura,  that can become blocked with detrimental positive ions that cause us to feel lethargic and depleted of energy. By burning sage,  the air is neutralized of positive charge, and the smoke releases a surplus of negative ions into the atmosphere. As a result, our energy and the energy in our environment will feel noticeably lighter. Burning sage is also utilized to heal the mind of psychic and emotional trauma. The smoke can be fanned around the body to remove emotional blocks in the energy field.



Sage has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is an expectorant, diuretic and stimulant.  Sage also has a profound “estrogenic effect” on the body, so for women experiencing hormonal shifts such as menopause, symptoms of estrogen deficiency, or women who have had a hysterectomy, drinking sage tea can greatly benefit their system’s readjustment. A cup of good infusion can also aid a number of health problems such as joint pain, sprains, sore throat, colds, cough, kidney troubles, liver complaints, and digestive problems.

(Disclosure: Sage should not be ingested by pregnant women or those with epilepsy. Women who are nursing should only drink sage tea if their intention is to decrease their milk supply.)


 Sage has a calming effect on the senses, and has a powerful aroma that eliminates all other odors from an environment. Any area of your home that is susceptible to undesirable scents is a great location to burn sage.The aroma from sage smoke increases relaxation,  and can induce an energetic state that enables deeper meditation.

For Hair

If brewed as a tea and cooled, sage can be used as a cleansing tonic for your hair. Especially for those with darker hair colors, rinsing your hair with a sage tea tonic will add a lustrous glaze to your locks. (Those with lighter hair should use this treatment with caution if they do not wish to tint their hair color.)


Photograph courtesy of Moving Towards Peace

A Native American Sage Ritual Utilizing the Four Cardinal Points to Dispel Negative Energy

  • Facing North – I welcome the energy of wisdom and blessing and the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who teach me. Welcome Buffalo, and the spirit of giving away, teach me to be generous and honor all that I receive. I welcome the energies and spirits of the North
  • Facing South – I welcome the energy of service to all my relatives, the heat of the noonday sun and the spirit of action in the world. Welcome Coyote spirit. I welcome the energies and spirits of the South.
  • Facing East – I welcome the energy of the beginning way, the rising sun at the beginning of the day and the light of illumination. Welcome Eagle, flying nearest the heavens, with the clearest of vision. I welcome the energies and spirits of the East.
  • Facing West – I welcome the energy of looking within to find the gifts of healing. Welcome Bear spirit going deep within to seek the gift of renewal. I welcome the energies and spirits of the West.
  • Looking Up – I welcome the energy and spirit of Above. Father Sky, Star people, and Cloud people. Welcome all that is masculine, grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles and sons. And that masculine energy that also exists within the feminine. I welcome the energies and spirits of Father Sky.
  • Looking Down (touching the ground) – I welcome the energy of Mother Earth, the feminine principle, the energy and spirit of Below. I welcome the energy and the spirit of our grandmothers, our mothers, sisters, aunties and daughters. And that feminine energy that exists within the Masculine. I welcome the energies and spirits of Mother Earth.
  • Looking within (holding your hands over your heart) – I welcome the energy of Within, the principle of being connected, the energy and spirit of Within. I welcome the gifts of balance, oneness, and the connection with all things, for all things are one and all things are related.


Photograph courtesy of Core Spirit



How do you use herbs and resins in your modern lifestyle? What other herbs do you enjoy burning in your home? Submit comments and questions below!

One response to “Spiritual and Scientific Reasons to Burn Sage”

  1. Make Your Modern Home More Magical in Five Simple Steps – bunglo Avatar

    […] home, is keeping the air clear of organic and energetic impurities. Check out our articles on Smudging your home using Sage or Palo Santo, and utilizing Himalayan Salt […]


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