The genus Salvia encompasses more than 750 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs and annuals widely distributed across the world’s dry and stony regions. The term Salvia is derived from the Latin word salvare which means “to cure’ as these herbs are touted for their healing properties. No wonder an ancient proverb says, “Why should a man die who has a sage in his garden? Of all the 750 varieties of sage occurring worldwide true white sage is considered as the best one for smudging.
Description of California white or salvia Apiana:
Salvia Apiana is an herbaceous perennial shrub which is a native of the South Western United States and North Western Mexico. It is also called as the white sage, buffalo sage, bee sage or the sacred sage. This striking evergreen shrub grows up to 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. The young leaves are gray in color and the mature leaves are white. The long leathery green foliage has a distinctive aroma. The aromatic leaves contain oils and resins which when processed and dried are used traditionally for making smudge sticks. The silver gray leaves are simple, waxy, widely lance shaped, tapered at the base with dense hairs and minute teeth. The flowers are white in color with a touch of lavender and bloom generally during the summer. White California attracts humming birds, bees and butterflies. They are a great nectar plant for the bees and other insects. The bumblebees, hawk moths and wasps pollinate the California white.
Uses of California white or Salvia Apiana:
1. As California white is rich in cineole it exhibits antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral and pain alleviating properties.
2. Consumed as a tea may reduce ulcerative symptoms. When the leaves are burnt and inhaled it clears mucous secretions, relieves lung congestion, cures sinus and facilitates easy breathing.
3. The anti-inflammatory properties contained in this herb are highly beneficial for skin irritations, abrasions and infections.
4. The seeds of this plant are incorporated in an eye wash to cleanse the eyes.
5. The leaves of the plant are crushed with water and used as a hair shampoo, dye and hair straightener too. It is also used as a deodorant to reduce body odor.
6. The leaves when chewed, smoked or used in a sweat house is an excellent remedy for common colds.
7. This aromatic herb has been used as incense and in smudge pots for ceremonial use. It was because of this it was called as ceremonial sage
8. The leaves that are dried and traditionally made into smudge sticks are burnt to cleanse the mind and to generate positive energy.
9 The seeds are an excellent food source. Grinding them can make exceptional soups and hot cereals.
10. This herb is also touted to stimulate and boost memory.
As this herb contains amazing healing qualities it has been traditionally used across the globe by every culture mainly in rituals and ceremonies for cleansing and purifying. The smudge sticks are also used to get rid of negative energy and bad spirits. Yes, the smudge sticks prepared from this plant is great for ceremonial burning or just everyday smudging.
Please use caution when ingesting or smoking any herb, always check with a health care professional first!