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2. What Does Smudging Do?

Smudging is a smoke-based purification technique of burning herbs and incense such as palo santo. For some indigenous groups, the ritual is a gateway to higher spiritual realms and a vehicle to eliminate emotional and spiritual negativity that has built up within a person or space. It may be a fad in mainstream culture, but demonstrated empirical evidence accompany the cleansing effects of smudging . Scientific reviews published in 2006 and 2007 found that smudging serves as a powerful traditional fumigation method that actually cleanses the air of bacteria. In 2019, the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine further confirmed that the practice could help disinfect the air and surfaces for up to 30 days. These findings do not include specific data on palo santo; however, this plant contains many of the same phytochemicals as the herbs observed in the studies.

smudging sacred wood alexander ruiz / Getty Images
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