White Sage was considered a Holy herb by the American Indians who used it for smudging ceremonies, for bathing, for deodorant, and for medicinal purposes. Natures Garden sells our white sage for external applications only, but in the following article, we will discuss how this wonderful herb has been used throughout history. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice; consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment purposes. We provide this data for educational purposes only.
White Sage (Salvia apiana) is an evergreen shrub that grows to 4-5 feet in height. White sage grows well in climates that provide lots of sunlight, well-drained soil, mild winters, and little water. Over-watering white sage can kill the plant. The leaves of white sage contain essential oils and resins that provide a wonderful aroma when rubbed together. White sage’s scientific name is salvia apiana (apiana refers to the fact that bees are attracted to this plant); salvia means salvation.
The American Indians referred to white sage as the king of all sages, and frequently used this herb for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. In fact, it is believed that the term “Holy Smoke” originated from the American Indians “smudging” white sage to rid people and places of unwanted evil spirits, and to protect themselves from those spirits. In addition, they believe that the smoke of sage attaches itself to negative energy found within a person, and removes it from their body.
White sage is still used today for smudging purposes. The smudging process involves lighting the tips of dried sage leaves, blowing them out, and allowing the smoke to escape into the air. Smudging is typically done using a sage wand (smudge stick), but loose white sage leaves can be used instead. Sage wands are sage leaves wrapped tightly together. To burn a smudge stick, light the tip of a few leaves and blow it out. You can either wave the stick in air or place stick in a fire-safe container that contains salt or sand. The salt or sand will allow the smudge stick to stand erect while burning. To extinguish the smudge stick, place smoking end of the stick into the salt or sand and smolder. The smoke created from burning sage produces a calming effect on those who inhale it. (Always use caution when burning sage, as anything that is on fire can potentially catch other things on fire. Also, keep anything that is burning away from children and pets).
In addition to smudging, white sage may be used for topical applications by preparing teas, poultices, and/or oil infusions. White sage is used in these applications because it has anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, calming, deodorizing, and healing properties. White sage contains diterpenoids, which are compounds which have been shown to fight bacterial infections, and reduce allergy symptoms. It also contains cineole, which acts as an anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterial agent. Tannic acid content provides anti-fungal properties. Sage is also used as an antipyretic; used as a sweat bath to reduce fever. White sage has a calming effect on the body and soul. This is likely due to its miltirone content (a compound which performs similar to valium to reduce anxiety). Finally, white sage contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds very similar to the female hormone estrogen. Herbalists have used white sage to help treat the hot flashes that accompany menopause.
White sage tea is prepared by steeping sage leaves in hot water. Care is taken not to add white sage leaves to boiling water, as boiling water will destroy some of its medicinal value. Once this tea is made, it can be used to make natural lotions and creams, soap, and hair care products. The American Indians used white sage tea as a “soapless” shampoo. Since white sage has deodorant qualities, sage tea can be used as a fabulous hair rinse that leaves your hair soft and manageable. Sage tea can be used in place of plain water to make wonderful homemade soaps. Natural lotions and creams can also be made using white sage tea in place of plain water. This tea can also be added directly to your bathtub for a relaxing herbal bath. Due to its tannic acid content (which has anti-fungal properties), white sage tea can be used as a foot bath to treat athlete’s foot. White sage tea can also be used as a refreshing, natural vaginal deodorant.
White sage can be infused into oils to make fabulous massage oils, ointments, body butters, salves, lip balms, ect. To prepare a white sage oil infusion, crush 1 cup dried white sage into 16 oz. olive oil (or another light oil such as sweet almond oil or sunflower oil), warm it gently in a double boiler for about 1 hour covered, pour the solution (including the herbs) into a jar and lid. Allow this to set for 4-6 weeks; strain and use. Your oil infusion will have a shelf life of about 1 year. This white sage oil infusion can be used to make soaps, lotions, massage oils, ointments, salves, deodorants, creams, lip balms, scrubs, and other body products.
Finally, it is reported that white sage can be used internally (in small amounts) in the form of a tea for an array of medicinal treatments. Never should sage essential oil be ingested. Before ingesting any type of herbs, you should consult with your doctor first. Herbalists use white sage as a tea, for soothing sore throats, for relaxation, for hormonal imbalances, for diarrhea, for indigestion, for ulcers, and for treating congestion in the respiratory tract. Since white sage is a natural deodorant, it can be used to make natural douches.
White sage contains a compound known as thujone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this compound increases your heart rate and causes mental confusion. It can also lead to vomiting, restlessness and kidney complications when used in excess. Hence, you should exercise caution when using white sage.
A study performed at the University of Arizona in 1991 demonstrated that Salvia apiana has potential antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida brassicae. It was also published in March 2005 in “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” that scientists at the University of Southern California found white sage to contain eucalyptol, or cineole. This compound is known to kill bacteria and can help clear a sinus infection.