published: March 2015

There’s No Such Thing As A Weed

Sagebrush  (Artemisia tridentata, A. frigida, A. ludoviciana)

by Dorje Root

First and foremost, Sagebrush, although commonly called Sage, is not the same plant, or even in the same plant family as Garden Sage (the one used in cooking turkeys).  I have heard some really bad stories about people who got the two mixed up.  Garden Sage (Salvia) is in the mint family.  White Sage (commonly used as smudge) is in the same family.  However the sagebrushes (and I lump them all under that name to distinguish them from the mint family sages) are in the composite family, and are also used as smudge.  This instance alone is why it’s a good idea to learn the botanical names of plants!  I hope this clears up more confusion than it causes!

Artemisia tridentata is technically the sagebrush—growing in bushes with gray green leaves and a pungent smell, and it is one of the few bushes left in the desert after the cattle have grazed everything else.  Artemisia frigida is also known as Silver Sage or Fringed Sage.  All three species have been used for smudge (a process of clearing negative energy using smoldering dried herbs) and making smudge sticks.  The Lakotas use a strong Sagebrush tea for cleaning and purifying the floor of a ceremonial space, and also use the leafy stalks of the non-bush sagebrushes on the floor of a sweatlodge.  The leaves are antibacterial and antifungal, and so would clean on a physical level as well as energetic. 

The tea used as an external wash is also helpful for any kind of skin infection.  It can also be used powdered for diaper rash, or in a salve for bacterial or fungal infections of the skin.  Internally, Sagebrush has been taken as a tea for colds and flus, or to clear certain parasites.  The tea is very strong tasting (especially A. tridentata) and should not be used in pregnancy.

In addition to its medicinal and ceremonial uses, Sagebrush also makes a beautiful yellow-green or gold dye for wool.  And last (for this article) but not least, our sagebrushes are a big part of that utterly intoxicating smell that occurs here after a rain!

Dorje Root is an herbalist and natural healer, also working with Plant Spirit Medicine, Intuitive Energy Healing and ‘The Journey’ cellular healing.  For an appointment call 719-937-7786 or visit