The different types of sage

An aromatic plant, sage is deep-rooted in history as both food and medicine. Its scientific name salvia is derived from the Latin salvere, which translates to “heal” or “to feel well and healthy.”

Closely related, garden sage (salvia officinalis) and white sage (salvia apiana) are both used as medicine — but the main difference between white sage and regular sage is that white sage (or sacred sage) is more commonly burned as incense.

When you think of regular sage, think about the sage that grows in your garden (with greyish green leaves), and what goes into turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving.

White sage, on the other hand, has smooth, white leaves and is used mostly for medicinal purposes, and not as a seasoning in cooking.

Although, white sage is traditional medicine, it does not mean its healing, protective and purifying properties are not relevant today. In fact, using white sage for smudging has become more popular than ever!

What is smudging?

Although smudging and similar rituals are at times seen as mystical and even new age by those meaning to discredit them, research is showing that there are many benefits to ancient rituals like these that have been known and practiced for thousands of years.

Smudging, or burning herbs and plant resins for medicinal and spiritual benefits has been used for centuries as a means of purification in many cultures and religions.

Frankincense is burned in churches, incense is commonly used in temples, and Palo Santo or “holy wood” has been burned for centuries for ceremonial cleansing that can be traced back to the ancient Incan civilization in South America.

As the sacred herb or resin is burned, the purifying smoke that arises, sets the mood and environment for ceremonies, prayers and rituals.

Benefits of burning sage

Burning sage, or smudging, involves the burning of dried and bundled sage leaves and letting the aromatic, stimulating smoke waft through the air, purifying and cleansing a living space, an object or yourself.

Studies have shown that “medicinal smoke” such as the type released when sage is burned can have powerful antibacterial properties, can boost mood and improve cognition, repel insects, and help insomnia

Spiritually speaking, smudging with white sage is used to dispel negative energy and prepare a space or object with positive fresh vibes and intent.

It is also great for ceremonial use and for cleansing crystals. When used on yourself or another person, burning white sage can help cleanse the aura and remove “stuck” energies when preparing for any type of energy work.

Some of the key benefits of burning sage include:

  • Purifying the air
  • Improving mood and cognition
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Warding off negativity
  • Promoting mindfulness and intuition
  • Supporting better sleep
  • Cleansing spaces, objects or your own energy
  • Repelling insects

Burning white sage for smudging helps you to clear the slate to allow more positivity into your life. It helps purify not only on the physical level, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.