A traditional Native American practice finds support in a scientific study, which found that smudging — the burning of sacred herbs to purify energies — cleanses the air of harmful bacteria.
Native Americans, along with a host of other ancient cultures, engaged in the ceremonial art of “smudging,” in which they burned sacred herbs in order to release the plant’s spirit and cleanse spaces of unwanted energies.
Cat Criger, an aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University or Toronto, describes the ritual as “metaphorically washing your hands in the smoke.” But smudging also has a literal relationship to washing our hands with soap and water.
A 2007 study published by Journal of Ethnopharmacology observed that smudging can “completely eliminate” airborne bacteria in a confined space.
This physical purification must have been a part of the healing that Native Americans intuited centuries ago. Now, we have the language of modern science to explain this facet of smudging.
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