Since time immemorial smudging, or incense, or resin burning, has dominated religious practices and everyday life, from ancient and modern day Egypt,all through the Arabic world and from India and Japan through the whole Asian and European continents. On the other side of the Atlantic, Native Americans and shamans have held smudging in high regard and incorporated it into their rituals or ritual like habits.
The merits they have attributed to it, range from clearing negative energy from space, effectively clearing one’s aura, dispelling stagnant energy in one’s personal field, releasing negative ions, creating a sense of relaxation and well being, fighting depression and anxiety, purifying the air. Despite all these more metaphysically oriented claims, i still needed to find something more scientifically substantiated that would explain to my rational mind why on earth smudging ,feels so inexplicably good.
Herb bundles known as “smudge sticks”.
The absolute treat. Precious resins, are placed on a small round charcoal tablet (specifically made for this purpose). Then the charcoal is being ignited with a lighter. Placing the charcoal on a bed of sand will keep it burn longer but this is not necessary. We also need to use only a metal, porcelain or clay container. Primarily used in Orthodox Christian churches .If you don’t want to use charcoal you can easily replace it with a candle diffuser. Fill the diffuser halfway with water, and place in it, a few pieces of resin. Light the tea light and you are ready to enjoy.
incense sticks are used extensively in Asia for religious purposes but also for their pleasant smell. The fact that there are so many different kinds of such sticks and cones on the market as well as the fact that it is a manufactured product ,make their quality (unlike resins and herb bundles)very difficult to verify and they may also contain synthetic substances. Their smoke consists of ultra fine and fine particles that are being breathed during burning.
Now as it turns out, smudging with herbs and resins, the way native Americans used to do it, has many benefits, according to a scientific paper published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology and entitled “medical smokes”(scientific paper). The study concentrates on herbal remedy achievement , through the burning of different natural substances. Information from 50 countries in 5 continents was gathered and results showed that medical administration of smoke, is used to target lung, brain and skin functions and has the advantage of being rapidly absorbed by the brain and body.According to this paper, the smoke based delivery of active substances, is easy and has also low production cost
A second follow up paper “Medicinal reduces airborne bacteria,”published in the same journal, concluded that smoke is a powerful antiseptic. More specifically smoke from wood and medicinal herbs, caused 94% airborne bacterial reduction within an hour of burning. The air remained disinfected for 24 hours in a closed space and furthermore many of the bacteria originally found ,were undetectable a month later.
top 3 herbs and resins for smudging:
Frankincense is stress relieving, antiseptic/disinfectant/deodorizer (eliminates bacteria and viruses) good for lung problems,anti-inflammatory,immune booster, anti-cancer, hormone balancing, anti-aging
Myrrh is strong anti-oxidant, anti bacterial and anti-fungal, promotes relaxation, has proven anti-cancer properties, is anti-aging and anti-parasitic, used for oral health According to Egyptian researchers if the most powerful herbal medicines for sore throats, gingivitis and canker sores especially in combination with frankincense.
White sage is one of the most highly regarded plants among Native Americans and is used systematically in smudging. It heals sore throats ,sinus problems and lungs, relieves asthma ,aids fat digestion, improves sleep and relieves anxiety, heals periodontal issues, good for the blood, anti-antiperspirant.
Incense was the first perfume of antiquity. Women used to smudge around the house letting furniture, curtains, pillows and any kind of fabric steeped in to the fragrant smoke, and the house would smell wonderfully for weeks. They would also smudge themselves in order to get the fragrance on their clothes and hair. This practice is still alive today in Arab countries.They use what is called Bukhoor incense , which is pieces of wood covered in fragrant oils and substances and burn it with charcoal. Actually the word perfume is derived from the Latin “parfumare” which literally means “through smoke”.
happy smudging! and parfumare….ing!