Saging or Smudging: Definition, Benefits & How To
What Is Saging or Smudging?
Saging or smudging is the practice of burning a tied up bunch of dried sage leaves to cleanse the air of negative energy, spirits and even bacteria. Recent research shows that saging was an ancient practice of Native Americans originally used in both a spiritual manner during particular rituals and medicinal ways to cure sore throats, coughs, chest colds, upper respiratory infections, and poison oak rashes. Some research suggests that saging was used as far back as the time of ancient Egyptians and Romans.
To clear up any confusion, saging and smudging are both terms for the same practice. If you want to get really specific, smudging is the term used by Shamans when they burn sage in their spiritual practices. Saging is the more common term referring to casual or at-home use.
Benefits of Saging
Purify the Air
White sage and prairie sage have both been found to be antibacterial and antimicrobial. Both are also great for repelling insects! In 2007, a study found that burning sage for an hour decreased the level of aerial bacteria by 94%…whoa. And the purifying effects lasted up to 24 hours. Furthermore, the following pathogenic bacteria were absent from the room for an entire month:
- Corynebacterium urealyticum
- Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens
- Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis)
- Kocuria rosea
- Pseudomonas syringae pv. Persicae
- Staphylococcus lentus
- Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens
Relieve/Reduce Stress & Improve Mood
One study in 2016 discovered that specifically in White Sage, there are compounds present that activate the receptors in the brain responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress and reducing pain.
Although more studies are needed, one research study found that saging can enhance cognition, alertness/focus and even improve memory. A 2005 study showed that common sage improved memory and cognition. They also looked at the effects of long term dosage and results showed improved mood, alertness, and feelings of calmness and content.
More long term studies are needed, but some researchers are hopeful about the possibility of using sage as a possible protective measure against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, because of the active compounds it contains.
Other potential Benefits of Saging
- Improve Sleep
- Boost Energy
- Spiritual Cleansing
- Release of Negative Ions
These are reported benefits of saging, but I was not able to find any concrete evidence to back them up. From my own personal use I can say that saging in my own home did have a very calming and grounding effect, but I don’t know if it is because of the chemicals in the sage itself or just the fact that it was so nostalgic for me. It smelled just like a sweet natural campfire from my childhood camping days and I was instantly filled with joy.
Saging At Home
Type of Sage
- White Sage
- Common sage
- Lavender sage
- Blue sage
- Black sage
How to Burn
- Using caution, light the end of a tightly bound bunch of dried sage.
- Quickly blow out the fire so that the leaves begin to smoke and smolder.
- For room cleansing, walk around the room in either a clockwise or counterclockwise rhythm 1-2 times then place the remaining leaves in a fireproof bowl like a ceramic bowl or shell.
- For object cleansing move the smoldering sage in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion around the specific object you are trying to cleanse.
- For aromatherapy, place the smoldering sage in a fireproof bowl and allow to smoke for as long as you like.
NOTE* Try to have a door or window open when saging to prevent the build up of smoke and/or the trigger of smoke detectors. Have water nearby just in case and never leave a burning or smoking sage stick unattended.
For those with asthma or allergies you especially want to be sure there is good ventilation and do not stand too close to the smoke or inhale directly.
Where to Buy Sage
Saging sticks are usually sold at new age or health food stores and can be found online. I bought mine from Whole Foods. Just be sure it is organic sage to avoid spreading harmful toxins throughout your space. Below are a few options I was able to find online.