Smudging: Finally Research Evidence Supports This Practice


There is an ancient art, believed to have been practised by Native Americans throughout the Centuries known as Smudging. This is the process of daily purification. Similar to the action of hand washing before eating, the focus is to cleanse a person in an energetic bath of aromatic smoke. As such, the ceremony uses a selection of herbs, with a particular focus on sage. The herbs are bound with string to form a smudge stick at which point they are set alight creating a beautifully scented smoke. 

There has been a study supporting the practice of Smudging published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology which found that burning smudge sticks can help to cleanse the surrounding air of harmful bacteria. It is great to see research support for such a ubiquitous practice.

The smoke created in a Smudging ritual is understood to purify living spaces as well as to cleanse negative energy within tools, furniture, and even home decor. To complement this, the practice is also believed to release negative ions akin to those produced when we spend extended periods of time within natural settings with access to great sunlight or bodies of water. 

Negative ions attach themselves to positively charged particles in large numbers which cause the germs, mould, pollen and other allergens to become too heavy to stay airborne. When there are enough ions connected to detrimental particles, they gravitate downwards towards the nearest surface. In high enough concentrations, negative ions can clear the air of hazardous airborne particles such as bacteria which can cause respiratory distress. The act of Smudging can reduce the number of these toxins exponentially!

Sadly, the majority of modern-day, western homes are a breeding ground for positive ions due to our increased usage of technical gadgets and home decor attributes such as curtains and carpets.

The act of Smudging can reduce the number of these toxins exponentially through its counterbalancing effectiveness of negative ion production! Like with so many other things in life, the physical act of a positive manifestation results in an improvement in our mental health and Smudging has been noted to be as beneficial as hiking through the mountains or taking a leisurely stroll along a beautiful beach. Both introduce fresh, clean air into our lungs helping rebalance us energetically and ultimately assisting in the reduction of stress hormones.

Aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University of Toronto, Cat Criger, says:

“To understand the protocol means you have to learn something about aboriginal people. So in a sense, the medicines are working in a kind way, saying ‘learn about me and we can respect each other and we can walk together’”

He went on to add, “We have demonstrated that by using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”


So now you know what Smudging is and its benefits, we wanted to provide you with some additional information on how you implement this practice into your daily routine within your home in accordance with traditional protocols:

“To understand the protocol means you have to learn something about aboriginal people. So in a sense, the medicines are working in a kind way, saying ‘learn about me and we can respect each other and we can walk together’”, Criger explains, “Native American medicines must be treated with reverence, so once you’ve acquired the herbs, clear out a bookshelf or an honoured place in your home that is above waist height to store them. You may want to find birch baskets to keep them in.”

Smudging Your Body


  •  Smudging is best practised with full awareness. 
    • The deployment of mindfulness techniques is key to enabling you to embark upon the ritual in a slow, methodical and clear-headed manner.


  •  Loose dried white sage (or a white ceremonial sage bundle)
  • String
  • A cool, dark, well-ventilated space 
  • A fire, heat-proof burning surface
  • Matches or a lighter


  • Open up a window for ventilation and then place the herb bundle onto your heat-, fire-proof surface. 
  • Light it with the matches or a lighter
  • Gently extinguish the fire by blowing out the flame leaving the material to smoulder (this may need to be repeated a few times throughout your practice)
  • Direct your energy towards the smoke. 
    • Note you may need to re-light the bundle a number of times during the course of your practice
  • When you're happy with the level of smoke being produced use your hand to waft the smoke over yourself from the feet up to your head and then reverse the action. Deploy your mindfulness and breathe slowly and deliberately as you would within meditation practice.
    • Support the above through visualisation of negative energy leaving your body or the objects around you which are harbouring tensions and if it helps you can chant: “Air, fire, water, earth. Cleanse, dismiss, dispel.”


Smudging Your Home

  • Once your body has been cleansed, start at your front door and move throughout your home waving the smoke through the air and in the corners of each room, cabinets and cupboards they’re known for accumulating stale energy. Deploying visualisation techniques ‘see’ the smoke clearing negative energy.
  • At every entrance, ask that the room be sealed and protected from this point. Take the opportunity to smudge the outline of the entrance aka the doorframe.
  • Move directly to the next room using the walls as a guiding point passing the wand over the edges of each window and door as you continue through the home. You need to cover every area of your space directing all the negative energy out toward the front entrance.  
  • Once you’ve completed the practice, allow the herb bundle to gently burn out. Many completed this by burying the remaining smudge in their garden.

Times You Should Seek to Smudge You Home:

  • After moving into a new place
  • After a recent argument inside your home
  • Regularly once a week as a manifestation of the Practice
  • Quarterly if weekly is unobtainable
  • During times of restless sleep behaviours
  • Illnesses
  • Headaches
  • Visits from undesired guests

When being inflicted with or going through any of the above, it is your calling to embark upon your Smudging practice.




Living with dogs (but not cats) as a toddler might protect against Crohn’s disease

Living with dogs (but not cats) as a toddler might protect against Crohn’s disease

Young children who grow up with a dog or in a large family
may have some protection later in life from a common ...

Meditation for Peace, 9th March 2022

Vegan & Plant Based Pancake Recipe

Mindfulness as a key to success in psychotherapy

Mindfulness as a key to success in psychotherapy

Meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques have gained
widespread acceptance among broad segments of the ...

Leaves Institute – Kindness is Key

Positive Impact on Muscle Strength with 3 Seconds a Day of Weight Lifting


A mass survey of citizens aged 50 to 89 years examined whether cognitive decline could be detected by sagittal spinal balance measurement based on a radiological approach. Doctors from Shinshu University observed associations of sagittal vertical axis (SVA) anteriorization and higher age with lower cognitive function.

Although the prevalence of dementia is expected to triple over the next 40 years, research has revealed risk factors that we can influence through lifestyle choices. A new study has concluded that 30-50% of Alzheimer’s disease cases could be preventable.

Research has shown that a plant based diet is not only beneficial to the brain, but may also help to prevent dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. Eating well can help to protect our memory as we grow older.

A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified sildenafil – an FDA-approved therapy for erectile dysfunction (Viagra) and pulmonary hypertension (Revatio) – as a promising drug candidate to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The COMPLEMENTARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (The CMA) © 2012. No part of this site may be reproduced without the express permission of The Complementary Medical Association. If used without prior consent a charge of US $1,000 per article, or mini section is paid (US $50 per word (minimum) will be charged. This is not meant to reflect a commercial rate for the content, but as a punitive cost and to reimburse The CMA for legal fees and time costs). Use of the contents, without permission will be taken as consent to bill the illegal user in full.