Burning sage is by no means a new health trend. Commonly referred to as smudging, the act of burning sage was well established by certain indigenous Native American tribes, including the Lakota, Cahuilla, Chumash, and several others. The Native Americans burned sage to help clear negative energy, which is what it is still used for to this day, but present day practitioners continue to seek new ways to benefit from smudging.
What Is Sage?
This aromatic plant can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Belonging to the mint family, sage has a powerful aroma and earthy flavor, lending itself to stocks and soups, even though it is commonly used in Thanksgiving dishes. Sage is rich in several nutrients, including vitamin K, iron, manganese, calcium, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and magnesium. It is also loaded with antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals in the body. The chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and rosmarinic acid in sage have been linked to improved brain function and reduced cancer risk.
Burning Sage Vs. Palo Santo
Dried white sage is the most common variety to burn, and the act of smudging has been a popular method of purification. Smudging uses smoke to cleanse the space, object, or self, according to Rosalyn Lapier, Ph.D., an award-winning indigenous writer and ethnobotanist. Another common purification tool is Palo Santo, meaning holy stick in Spanish, which has erupted onto the self-care and spiritual healing scene. Traditionally, shamans burned Palo Santo to ward off bad spirits, and while it has health benefits, we encourage you to avoid purchasing it. The Palo Santo tree is currently on the endangered watch list, whereas sage is very abundant. There are only 250 mature Palo Santo trees in the wild, and it has become illegal in Peru and Ecuador to cut down these trees. While certain brands source Palo Santo responsibly, many businesses that jumped on the Palo Santo trend upset indigenous communities by sourcing it irresponsibly.
What Are The Benefits Of Burning Sage?
To this day, there isn’t a lot of scientific research on the benefits of burning sage. One study, however, found that medicinal smokes like sage helped to reduce airborne bacteria by 94 percent. Preliminary research also points to the fact that smoke-based remedies are easily, perhaps more efficiently, absorbed by the body. For more anecdotal and reported benefits, continue reading.
Getting Rid Of Negative Energy
This was one of the primary reasons that Native Americans burned sage. Smudging works to clear negative energy from your space, and this includes bad experiences or traumas that happened to you or where you live. Many people prefer to “sage the place” before moving into a new house, inviting positive energy and intention for self-improvement.
According to Christopher Willard, Psy.D., bringing more awareness to what you are doing in life helps you become more in touch with your senses. One of the benefits of entering the present and becoming more mindful is stress reduction. Burning sage, combined with mindful meditation, has helped many people relax and enter a focused brain space.
As we all know, poor air quality has been linked to a variety of health conditions, especially respiratory illnesses. Burning sage may be a cost-effective way to improve the air quality in your home. Sage contains antimicrobial properties that work to kill viruses, fungi, and bacteria in the air. That being said, burning sage will create smoke, which may cause problems for individuals with severe asthma or other respiratory problems.
Whether or not you believe in the metaphysical benefits of clearing energy or purifying the air, the inhalation of burning smoke can have a grounding effect on the body. Gina Smith Pasqualini, a certified aromatherapist, has found that the scent of burning sage helps reduce anxiety symptoms and establish a sense of calm. If you think the smell is off-putting, you can add dried lavender, rosemary, or thyme to the dried sage bundle for a better smelling aroma.