Smudging: How Burning Sage Actually Kills Bacteria In The Air & So Much More

Sometimes we wonder how to best reset our homes – but have you ever considered smudging? Smudging – the ancient practice of burning sage and other herbs – has antiseptic, bacteria-killing properties. A 2006 study titled “Medicinal Smokes,” published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found solid evidence for the benefits of smudging.Notes the abstract, “All through time, humans have used smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness. To the best of our knowledge, the ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products’ smoke for therapy and health care have not been studied. … The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production.”

Using research from fifty different countries, the research team found “inhalation of smoke is typically used in the treatment of pulmonary and neurological disorders and directed smoke in localized situations, such as dermatological and genito-urinary disorders.” However, the key finding was that in those traditions, “ambient smoke is not directed at the body at all but used as an air purifier.”
A follow-up paper was published in the same journal less than a year later, and found that“medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria.”
By observing the effects of “burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs”on the “aerial bacterial population” in a closed room for 60 minutes, researchers found 94 percent of the aerial bacteria were eliminated. As they noted in their findings, “The ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24h in the closed room.”
Ultimately, the research concluded that in addition to potential health benefits, smudging is a viable, and strong, antiseptic. The final sentence in the study’s abstract states, “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.”

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