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Go Smudge Yourself?

Hand holding sage for herbal cleansing

The word “smudge” is technically a colonial word. It is more accurate to call it Cleansing or Purifying.

The act of “smudging” was first documented by colonizers. This caused many to view it as a “woo woo witch doctor sham“. Nevertheless, many different indigenous groups around the world still use bundles of herbs to clean a room or person. For example, they each have their own name for the cleansing herb ritual. As well as their own geographically selected plants. Along with their own reasons for using each selected herb.

Herbs to Smudge Yourself

Saging medicinal smokes to cleanse airborne diseasex
Saging with medicinal smokes to cleanse airborne diseases.

The most used cleansing herb is White Sage, Salvia apiana. According to the United Plant Savers is on the watch list for going extinct. As well as Palo Santo from South American also started to get popular and also said to be over harvested. Therefore, there are alternatives we can all use like Mugwort, Cedar, Rosemary and Pine. So the truth is cleansing herbs are based on the plants that grow around you, not what you can get online. Always remember, it is best to use the herbs native to where you live. And EVEN better, grow them!

Politically speaking, Canada, in an attempt to redress historical practices of assimilation, have established policies that support Indigenous traditions. Specifically letting public schools to offer cleansing herb practices to their majority indigenous student body. As well as letting the use of cleansing herbs in public spaces or even your own rented apartment. Do not forget that it wasn’t till the 1970’s that Indigenous groups were allowed to use their own practices.

Clinical studies have already proven plants like:

  • ?Sage
  • ? Palo Santo
  • ? Cedar
  • ? Pine

Disinfect 94% of airborne bacteria. And in a time that we are all home due to the weather, its good to refresh the air. In this video, I share my home herbal cleansing techniques, taught to me by elders, abuellas and many moon sisters. It’s a great time to align cleansing your home with the new moon in Aquarius since it is also the New Chinese Lunar Year of the Ox.

Does Smudging Yourself Work?

Positive results from a clinical study on “mixtures of odoriferous and medicinal herbs” show the benefits medicinal smoke. The published study in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health concluded that:

“using medicinal smoke, it IS possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”

What they saw was the cleansing herbs purified and disinfected the air by a 94% reduction of the airborn bacteria. Therefore, medicinal smoke has the ability make the environment cleaner for up to 24 hours in a closed room. Another report stated, the most frequent medical indications for medicinal smoke are pulmonary (23.5%), neurological (21.8%) and dermatological (8.1%). Additionally, they reported medicinal smoke is a usual method in more than 50 countries.

This is a great example of “modern western science” catching up with indigenous wisdom. That is why our blends are formulate to evoke specific energies. All our herbal blends have the same result if you use as a smoke, tea or as a cleansing herb.

Hand holding herbal burner with medicinal smoke cleanse.

How to Use Smoke to Cleanse the Air

Materials You Will Need

  • Herbal blend known for its antibacterial property (CENTER, CALM, MOON, SYNC, REVIVE)
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Herbal burner or fire proof box (a smudge bowl or an abalone shell)
  • Black sand
  • Charcoal
  • A feather, a fan, or your hand for pushing the smoke

Best Herbal Blends to Use

In choosing an herbal blend, first select the type of energy you want to cultivate: relaxing, energetic or meditative . Next, the ones I highly suggest contain antibacterial plants like Mugwort, Sage and Eucalyptus. For example in our , CENTER, which has Sage, is for balancing the energy of a room or person. Or use CALM to de-escalating stress in a room.As well as REVIVE, with Eucalyptus, to eliminate “cabin fever” in the winter. And finally, SYNC, with Mugwort, for inspiring creativity. Or even MOON, also with Mugwort, for deepening meditations.

9 Steps to Use Medicinal Smoke

Time needed: 15 minutes

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to use smoke to cleanse the air from bacteria.

  1. Choose the Right Blends

    Select an herbal blend. Sage, found in our CENTER blend, is a popular choice for its purifying properties. Other options include Mugwort (MOON, SYNC) or Eucalyptus (REVIVE). These plants contain natural compounds with antibacterial properties to cleanse the air.

  2. Prepare the Herbs & Rooms

    Crush your herbal blends to slightly to release their aroma. This can be done by gently rubbing them between your fingers or using a grinder. Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate and help dissipate any smoke.

  3. Light your Charcoal

    Place a small amount of black sand on your herbal burner or fireproof container. This will keep the container from getting too hot. Light a charcoal and place on top of the black sand in the container.

  4. Light your Herbs

    Place a pinch of your herbal blend on top of the charcoal. The heat from the charcoal will ignite the dried herbs. They will start to smolder and produce smoke. Blow out any flame, leaving the herbs to smolder and release smoke.

  5. Direct the Smoke

    Use a feather or fan to direct the smoke around the space you want to cleanse. Next, move the herbal burner in a clockwise direction. Start at the entrances of the rooms and move towards the center.

  6. Focus on Problem Areas

    Pay special attention to areas where bacteria may be present. Areas around door handles, windows, or other high-touch surfaces. Cleanse the air around furniture, electronics, or other objects that may trap bacteria.

  7. Allow the Smoke to Settle

    After you have covered the entire space with the smoke, allow it to settle for a few minutes. The antibacterial properties of the smoke will work to cleanse the air and neutralize bacteria.

  8. Extinguish the Herbs

    Let the herbs and charcoal extinguish itself completely out. Discard the charcoal and herbs into a backyard or stream.


Using smoke from antibacterial plants can be an effective way to cleanse the air from bacteria and other impurities. Even though it has been looked as fake, many different indigenous groups around the world still use bundles of herbs to clean a room or person. Additionally, “modern western science” has finally catch up with indigenous wisdom to show in clinical studies the positive effects of medicinal smoke.

Ready to use herbs in other ways? Check out our How to Use Herbs: Top 5 Ways to Enhance Your Daily Life that covers botanical baths, herbal vaporizing, herbal smoking, medicinal smoke, and herbal teas.


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