PRESENTED BY | Katie Thompson, CH . . .

Explore the History and Medicinal Uses of Smoking and Smudging

April 4th, 2020, Saturday | 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Humans have been burning plants for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Join us as we explore the history, ethicacy, and medicinal values of plants when exposed to fire.

Fire + Smoke

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material that releases heat, light, smoke and various reactions. This course will focus on the medicinal and historical uses of burning plants.


Cleansing an area with the smoke of a smouldering herb or root is commonly known as “smudging.” Smudging has been used by indigenous populations across the globe for ceremony, seasonal shifts, cleansing and illness for thousands of years. It has been shown that smudging can clean up to 94% of bacteria from the air and is possibly a more effective cleansing tool that conventional disinfectant sprays.

The most common herb used for smudging today is Salvia apiana, also known as white sage and sacred sage. White sage grows in southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico on dry slopes with full sun exposure. Indiginous Native Americans cultures have used this plant as food, topical healing, and as a smudge to cleanse the energy of a person, place or sacred ceremony. White sage has seen an abundance of illegal overharvesting that is devastating the wild populations. Many attribute this overharvesting to a rise in spiritual practices and new age practices. It has become common to see the plant sold by the bundle in metaphysical shops, online, and even at Walmart.

Another plant used for centuries is Bursera graveolens, aka Palo Santo. The use of Palo Santo traces back to the Inca tribes in South America and it’s name directly translates to “holy wood.” The wood can only be harvested from dead or fallen branches of the tree. For centuries shamans have burned palo santo in ceremony and to ward off negative energy. Much like white sage, palo santo has seen a rise in overharvesting and is on the watch list for endangered plants according to the United Plant Savers Medicinal Plant Conservation.

There are many effective plants that can be made into smudges and air purifiers that are not over harvested or endangered. Common herbs such as lavender, eucalyptus, juniper, cedar and sweetgrass are just as effective for cleansing and can be found right outside your front door.


There are many ways to intake herbal medicines. Is smoking an herb as harmful as smoking manufactured cigarettes? Is it more harmful than drinking a tea?

Combustion is defined as the byproduct from the rapid breakdown of a substance by heat (aka burning). Inhaling smoke takes the byproducts of combustion rapidly into your system. This can be damaging to your lungs and body. It can release free radicals, damage the cell lining of airways and leave remnants in the lungs.

Pulmonary inhalation has also been stated as one of the quickest routes of absorption in the body. Inhalation of a substance brings the herb to the lungs which leeches to the bloodstream almost immediately.

Intentionally inhaling smoke is a taboo subject but is one that is well worth discussing. In this portion of our class we will explore the medicinal values of commonly smoked herbs including Mullein, Chamomile, Rose, Damiana, Mugwort, Skullcap, Coltsfoot, Lavender and Peppermint. We will compare different forms of taking the herb – largely tea or tincture – versus inhaling the smoke of the plant. We will also discuss the detrimental effects that smokes have on your lungs and your body, and what factors to consider around using herbs in this way.


[The content of this blogs does not necessarily represent or express the views of CSCH.]

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RSVP | Please email prior to 2 pm on Saturday to receive a link to the course.

DATE & TIME | Saturday, April 4, 2020 from 2-3:30 pm.

LOCATION | Online Seminar!

COST | $15

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John Whiteman
John Whiteman
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