Updated: Dec 22, 2020
White sage aka Salvia apiana, is also known as sacred sage or bee sage. It is very popular and mostly found in northern Mexico and the southwestern US, like California and other desert-dry regions. Most often, people use it for "smudging" their space; a more traditional or spiritual application. Bundles are burned and the smoke wafted around to remove "bad energies" that have accumulated. But this plant can also be used in other ways such as in a tea or compress. For a tea, you put two teaspoons of fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried sage leaves) in a mug then add boiling water, this is good for digestion as well as for stress and anxiety. As a compress, you would prepare it the same way as you would a tea and then place some cotton in the mix to soak up the tea, thereafter, attach the compress to where you need relief. It is thought this method is useful as an antibacterial or for joint aches and pains.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding this plant - many feel that it is harvested inappropriately and people are over-harvesting it as well as poaching it off land owned by Native Americans who have been using it for cultural purposes for a very long time. It is up to the individual to make up their own mind, whether they go and find white sage that is ethically sourced or whether they want to use something else instead such as lavender or cinnamon or even regular sage which is said to provide the same results with respect to "smudging" practices.
But what about Palo Santo? This is another material used for smudging and there seems to be just as much controversy around these small wooden sticks as well.
Palo Santo (Bursera Graveolens) is a mystical tree that grows on the coast of South America and is related to Frankincense, Myrrh and Copal. In Spanish, the name literally means “Holy Wood” and it belongs to the citrus family. For centuries, the Incas, Shamans, medicine people and Indigenous communities in South America have used this for energy clearing, healing and spiritual cleansing. Palo Santo is said to be so sacred in Ecuador that it’s illegal to chop down the trees. In fact, the act of harvesting a dead palo santo tree requires a specific government permit. Interestingly, the wood of the palo santo tree is said to be of no use unless it died of natural causes...
The aroma is very popular for incense and smudging; sweet pine, mint and lemon can all be discerned. Traditionally, this tree's wood was used for relieving common colds, flu symptoms, stress, asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression and inflammation. This Essential Oil is also used for aromatherapy but regardless of its many uses and popularity, so many are concerned for the unethical practices surrounding its harvest, not to mention the carbon footprint left by international export to and fro. So again, I think it depends on the individual to make their own judgement call. As with white sage, there are alternatives to Palo Santo and we are very spoiled for choice.
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