Health Benefits and Uses of White Sage

Health & Wellness

White Sage (Salvia apiana) | Health Benefits of White Sage / Respiratory Health: (Sore Throat, Sinus) / Alleviates Allergy: (Reduces Allergens) / Kills Bacterial Infections (Cleans the Air) / Women's Health: (Menstrual Cramps) / Improves Digestive Health: / Psychological Benefits: (Stress, Improves Mood, Increases Energy, Spiritual Benefits, Provides Cleansing Energy, Dispels Negative Energy) / Improves Cognitive Function: (Sharpens Memory) / Treats Sleep Disorders: (Improves Sleep, Insomnia) / Skin Care: (Wounds and Hyperhidrosis)Uses of White Sage(Traditional Uses of White Sage, Other Uses of White Sage)

Salvia apiana grows mostly in southern California, but a few sightings have been reported in Northern California and as far south as northern Baja Peninsula.  The soil best suited to white sage is either sandy or loamy, needs to be dry to just moist. It prefers slopes. The pH should range from 6-8 and rainfall averages of 6-20 inches per year. White Sage requires full sun and good air circulation. Natural ranges include coastal sage scrub, edges of desert, chaparral, short and tall grass prairies, and yellow pine forests under 4900 feet, although the plant is adapting to grow in riparian areas along perennial and intermittent streams.

Sage hybridizes easily, broadening its gene pool. The encroachment of civilization and over-harvest by digging up its rhizomes are currently the greatest threats to the species growing in its natural habitats.  It is being replaced “by weeds”. Numbers of this plant are not specified. The concerns are more about its natural habitat being diminished and how that is effecting the overall ecology. Deer, mountain sheep, rabbits, antelope and elk use it for grazing. It is an excellent pollen source for bumble bees and wasps, and nectar source for hummingbirds. The species is itself abundant which I expect to increase due to marketing through local nurseries and internet sources.

The leaves grow on four sided stems, and are up to four and one half inches long, pubescent, widely lanceolate, with margins often entire, but may have irregularly toothed or lobed leaves with pinnate veination. Rugose when they open, the leaves become glaborous with maturity. With a basal arrangement of two foot mounds, leaves are a bit thicker than many plants’ leaves.  They contain oil and resins that create the silvery sheen with a unique greyish green coloration.

White Sage is a mint herb that was widely used by ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks. While there are many other plant species named "sage". the majority of them belong to the Artemisia genus, such as mugwort. White Sage is used to make incense due to its nice fragrance. Its medicinal uses include treating excess sweating, colds and sinus infections, and indigestion. Consult your doctor before using white sage tea to treat a health condition.

Ancient Egyptians used sage to treat infertility, and Greek physician Dioscorides declared that "aqueous decoction of sage" stopped wounds from bleeding and cleansed sores. He also recommended gargling with it. In the Middle Ages, one herbal guide stated that sage, "is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members".

The reason Salvia apiana has a cleansing effect on the air is that it has antimicrobial properties. It's likely that waving smoke from burning sage leaves into all corners of a room eliminates bacteria from the air that could otherwise end up in our lungs. Salvia officinalis, or common sage, is the type of sage generally used in culinary, cosmetic and medicinal products.

For ages, White Sage is being burnt as its smoke is well-reputed for dispelling the negative energy from the vicinity. It is an ancient practice that originally sprang from Native Americans where they used it for their religious customs. Other than that, this smudging technique helps purify the air by killing bacteria, viruses, fungi, and good for nothing insects.

Today, White Sage is taken in tea, as a stimulant tonic and as a flavorful addition to recipes. Benefits of sage tea have been found to be effective in the treatment of inflammation of the mouth and throat. Modern scientists have found that sage in a liquid solution can deactivate bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus. It's also been touted as a preventative for diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer, among other diseases and ailments.

Respiratory Health:

Sore Throat:

Sage leaf tea is a proven strategy for alleviating a sore throat, at least according to The U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Guide. White Sage tea will reduce mucous secretions of the sinuses, throat, and lungs. According to the plant guide mentioned above, “The lukewarm tea is sufficiently bacteriostatic and astringent to make it useful for treating nearly all sore throats, first gargled and then drunk”.


Sinusitis occurs when your sinuses become inflamed due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. If you suffer from frequent sinus infections, consuming white sage tea may cure or prevent such infections from recurring.

According to a 2009 study published in Laryngoscope, cineole compound is an effective and relatively safe option for treatment of sinusitis that doesn’t include antibiotics. Part of the beauty of this compound is that it can clear mucus and act as a very mild cough suppressant.

A research done by scientists at the University of Southern California and published in March 2005 in “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine”, White Sage contains eucalyptol, or cineole, which kills bacteria and has a soothing effect that helps clear a sinus infection.

In summary, burning White Sage, or drinking White Sage tea contains cineole and this can help dry you up, and help you breathe. That’s pretty amazing considering the side effects of prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines.

You can inhale the aroma given off a burning White Sage bundle for a few minutes, or you can drink it as a tea. However you do it, it’s the compound called “eucalyptol” also known as 1,8-cineole that when inhaled, reduces painful sinus inflammation (which you get from White Sage or Eucalyptus herb), that controls the swelling to some degree. It may kill the associated pathogens too! That’s pretty amazing considering the side effects of prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines. It even kills the bacteria that triggers the infection in the first place according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

Alleviates Allergy:

Reduces Allergens:

It turns out that White Sage may help clear the air of lots more than bugs and bacteria. Though scientifically unproven, burning Sage is thought to release negative ions. This is said to help neutralize positive ions. Common positive ions are allergens like: pet dander, pollution, dust, mold. This can help reduce the allergens in the spaces where Sage is burned. If this is the case, burning Sage may be a blessing for those with allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions.

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology has shown that burning herbs or medicinal smoke can purify the air from up to 94% of harmful bacteria for up to 24 hours. And while it is not yet scientifically proven, burning Sage can release negative ions that can neutralize positive ions.

If you have asthma or any other respiratory condition, it is better to enter the space once the smoke from burning sage is cleared. Inhaling the smoke may aggravate the respiratory condition.

Kills Bacterial Infections:

The most-used types of Sage have antimicrobial properties. This means they keep infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi at bay. Beliefs that burning Sage clears out spiritual impurities, pathogens, and even insects have been fundamental to the practice of smudging.

Cleans the Air:

Burning the embers of sage (aka smudging) in a room is helpful if someone is sick. My tip is designed to clean a room where someone has been coughing or sneezing from pneumonia, or influenza for example, and you desire to clear the air space of these germs so you don’t catch it too.

A 2007 study found that burning Sage for an hour reduced the levels of bacteria in the air by 94% and this benefit lasted for 24 hours. That’s kind of amazing, but keep in mind (especially if you’re new to burning Sage) that there is an aroma that comes off the plant, and after a few hours or a day it will be gone.

If you work in nursing homes, clinics or hospitals, you might want to go home and smudge yourself to help deter infection from pathogens that hitched a ride on your clothes. If you don’t want to burn it, drinking White Sage tea is an option.

Women's Health:

Menstrual Pain:

White Sage tea might provide relief from menstrual period cramps. There’s also evidence that it can alleviate the symptoms of menopause like sweating, hot flashes, and estrogen imbalances. This is because the tea contains phytoestrogens, which are biochemicals that mimic estrogen’s effects in the human body, but safely. The fact that it has this drying effect on mucous membranes, means it could help women to reduce lactation during the weaning process, and also heavy menses.

Improves Digestive Health:

Drinking a cold cup of white sage tea may relieve indigestion. Traditionally, Native Americans drank White Sage tea to relieve diarrhea as well. Since it has mild diuretic effects, it could be used for mild hypertension.

Ask your doctor if it’s right for you before doing this, and watch out if you’re combining it with medications for this purpose. Two to three cups a day would have an impact, but much more beyond that and you might start to dehydrate yourself. It’s a very individual matter.

Psychological Benefits:


White Sage is rich in compounds such as caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, and salvianolic acid, all of which have antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. They are known to activate certain receptors in the brain that can help alleviate stress and improve mood levels. 

Improves Mood:

If burning Sage can lift one’s mood, it could also be a great ally against stress. Tradition suggests that smudging can literally lift one’s spirits to banish negativity. White Sage increased the feelings of calmness and contend-ness in healthy participants, as marked on the  Bond-Lader Mood Scales. There are anecdotal evidence by people who say that they feel calmer and happier when sage is burned, and now it is proven by research too. 

A 2016 research project for the University of Mississippi established that White Sage (Salvia apiana) is rich in compounds that activate certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain.

Another 2014 study documented White Sage (also known as estafiate) as an important traditional remedy for treating anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in certain cultures.

Increases Energy:

Ridding your body and surrounding spaces of bad energy can help you welcome in newer, fresher, and more positive energy instead. In a way, the plant can have an energizing effect and perhaps even fight off feelings of fatigue. It might be worth a try if nothing else has helped. If you opt for this, make sure that your sage bundle doesn’t have any lavender which is sedating. Some sagelike species closely related to white prairie sage are also used for smudging. Many have documented antifatigue uses and another, sold commercially combine the two herbs and it’s very nice, but it will make a tired person even more sleepy.

Spiritual Benefits:

Smudging has long been used to connect to the spiritual realm or enhance intuition. For healers and laypeople in traditional cultures, burning Sage is used to achieve a healing state, or to solve or reflect upon spiritual dilemmas. The spiritual and purification rituals performed by Native Americans often included the burning of Sage, as well as many other plants.

This may have some scientific basis, too. Burning Sage has long been a used as a way to connect with the spiritual realm. Cultures across the planet have relied on it to achieve a state of mental healing or to solve spiritual dilemmas, and there’s some scientific evidence to back this up. Certain types of plants have psychoactive compounds, as you know Marijuana is one of the main ones. Another one you may recognize is Opium, Ephedra and yet another Psilocybin. But White Sage actually contains thujone which is an interesting mild psychoactive compound (found in many plants) and it’s connected to spiritual rituals. Research shows that thujone is mildly psychoactive. It’s actually found in many plants used in cultural spiritual rituals to enhance intuition. White Sage has impressive benefits for treating anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Provides Cleansing Energy:

Sage is kind of like an eraser, it will help remove the day’s burdens and ease emotional suffering. It may help with mild anxiety or depression. Smudging is the quickest way because when you inhale, the compounds go straight to your bloodstream and brain. Just FYI, the practice of burning herbs (aka smudging) is a non-religious one. You’re just burning plant leaves rather than swallowing the supplement.

If you are naturally sensitive to the energy put out by those around you, Sage might lessen the impact of overwhelming or depleting people. Likewise, you don’t have to burn the Sage, like any herb, you can take them as a supplement, you can drink tea from the same plant, or you can apply them as a compress. You can distill them and inhale the essential oil. It’s all medicine.

You can burn a plant and that is still medicine, it’s just not overly priced and handed to you by a doctor. It’s a different type of medicine, one that was relied on for eons and centuries, as opposed to decades of synthesized medicines. People today still burn Tobacco, or Cedar, and/or Sage plants (when the herb is dried). This has been done for ceremonial purposes or to reduce your risk of infections.

Dispels Negative Energy:

Smudging may also be used as a ritual tool to rid yourself, or your space of negativity. This includes past traumas, bad experiences, or negative energies from others. This may help you establish a positive environment for meditation or another ritual. Choosing to sit and let go of negative thoughts in a ritual like this sets your intention and dedication to self-improvement. Choosing to engage in ritual can be the beginning of your change in mindset.

Improves Cognitive Function:

Beyond relieving negative energy and improving your mood, some research shows that inhaling the scent of White Sage can improve your memory, focus, alertness and even enhance cognition. White Sage contains a lot of incredible medicinal compounds. These healing compounds can be classified into two bigger umbrella categories called flavonoids (cirsimaritin and salvigenin) and triterpenes (oleanolic acid, uyaol and ursolic acid). Taken together these can impact the way you think for various reasons.

Sharpens Memory:

Burning Sage may help enhance the brain’s cognitive abilities and improve memory. Laboratory and preliminary human studies have supported the evidence of Sage to enhance cognitive skills and guard against neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

A 2016 review of studies noted that evidence for Salvia’s cognitive-enhancing benefits are promising, perhaps to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Still, more research is needed.

Treats Sleep Disorders:

Improves Sleep:

With its proven abilities to ease anxiety and increase feelings of calmness in the body, White Sage is a natural way to help you get into a better sleep routine. However, there is limited research on this. But you can experiment with burning Sage in your bedroom to dispel any negative energy from the space. Detox from anything digital and have a warm cup of Lavender tea or Chamomile tea. It may one of the most natural ways to ease yourself into bed and catch up on the much-needed rest.


Smudging has been traditionally used to safeguard against negativity that could interfere with sleep. Some research suggests that Sage contains compounds that could help ease insomnia. Burning Sage in your bedroom for a few minutes before sleep might help you sleep better at night. The plant contains compounds that ease insomnia, improve sleep quality, and soothe anxiety.

Skin Care:

Wounds and Hyperhidrosis:

The compounds such as eucalyptol in White Sage tea have antibiotic and anti-allergenic effects. Once it cools down, the tea can be applied to wounds and rashes to speed up healing of the affected parts. Compounds like eucalyptol and tannic acid can also treat fungal conditions like athlete’s foot and prevent it from occurring. Likewise, the tea seems to be beneficial for alleviating problems like excessive sweating, termed hyperhidrosis.

Since it also contains tannic acid, White Sage tea can be used to treat athlete’s foot and prevent it from recurring. If you continually suffer from excessive sweating, drinking White Sage tea or apply with a compress may help treat this condition.

Traditional Uses of White Sage:

  • Used for physical healing, spiritual healing and also in aromatherapy.
  • Dried leaves of White Sage smudging is the best and most preferred one.
  • The smoke of the White Sage has amazing cleansing and healing properties. It is believed to cleanse and heal the negativity in the space by attaching itself.
  • White Sage can be consumed; it is usually brewed as a tea. But it should never be consumed in large quantities.
  • It is used as stimulant and diuretic.
  • Antioxidants, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties are offered by sacred White Sage.
  • Inhaling the aroma of White Sage or drinking it as a tea helps in treating sinus infections.
  • A cup of White Sage tea can be used to treat indigestion.
  • Sage tea can calm a sore throat.
  • If you are suffering from menstrual period cramps, then drink a cup of sage tea, it helps in relieving pain.
  • The aroma of Sage can be used to treat mild depression and anxiety.
  • To get better sleep and to improve sleep quality, burn sage in your bedroom before sleeping.
  • Inhaling the fragrance of white sage can improve alertness and even enhance cognition.
  • Inhaling the aroma of white sage can have the energizing effect and even fights off the feeling of fatigue.
  • Cold tea compress can be used to treat wound and rashes.
  • It is also used to treat problems related to digestion.
  • Sage tea has great benefits and hence it is used in varies therapies to soothe cold, kidney problem, sprains, liver problem, and also in treating joint pains.
  • Native Americans used the seeds of white sage as food and to heal their eyes.
  • The roots were used for after birth healing.
  • The leaves are used to treat cold, sinus problem, to control lactation and also as a shampoo.
  • White Sage is used in the purification and cleansing process of smudging.
  • The Sage is burned with the belief that the incense clears away negative thoughts, spirits and dreams as well as illness.

Other Uses of White Sage:

  • It is used for spiritual cleansing of the soul, living place, sacred objects, and also in cleansing newly purchased objects.
  • Burning White Sage removes the negative energy.
  • After burning Californian White Sage, you will experience positive energies.
  • It is also used to seek blessings of health and prosperity.
  • Spirit of Sage is believed to offer protection, blessings, and clearing. 
  • White Sage has a lovely scent which lasts longer and hence can be used as a room freshener.

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