Some of the oldest cultures in the world have been known to heavily rely on the repeated use of sage to clear negative energy in a space. Smudging, which is the act of using a sage smudge stick to clear the energy, was especially important when performing spiritual rituals, such as before meditation, prayer, or other spiritual practices. Interestingly, there is a scientific aspect to the practice of ‘clearing’ a space through smudging herbs.
Smudging can actually help clear the air of different kinds of bacteria, as well as improve allergy symptoms.
There was a study on the effects of smudging, and the results were very interesting: 1 hour of medicinal smoke caused by burning wood (such as palo santo) and other medicinal herbs (frankincense, sage, pine, yerba santa), caused over 94% reduction of bacteria present in the space, and the ability of the smoke to disinfect and purify the air was maintained up to 24 hours after.
The study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology studied smudging methods from more than 50 cultures. They also found out that smudging was far more ancient than they thought and more widespread than previously believed. It was also found that it could address neurological, dermatological and pulmonary issues.
Additionally, the effect of smudging lasted for a month after the treatment with no discernible bacteria found.
Another study examining the air purifying potentials of smoke-based remedies was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2007. The conclusion was that in addition to health benefits, smudging also acted as a powerful antiseptic.
So while you may not personally believe that smudging actually clears negative energy, it’s definitely clearing something! And the reduced bacteria in the air for sure has a psychological effect, making the space feel like a cleaner, healthier environment.