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Native American

 Herbs  & Plants

Of The Southwest


Latin Name: Artemisia (spp)    Common Names: Big Sagebrush, Chamiso, Hediondo, White Sage, Black Sage, Purple Sage, etc. Not same plant as Garden Sage (Salvia)


Sagebrush, the icon of the “Old West”, is a common plant, found on desert hillsides and mountain foothills, usually up to 7,000 feet in elevation.; often found along roadsides. Sagebrush is the traditional plant used for sweat lodge and ritual purification, with the smoke being used to clear the air of bad spirits and influences. From ancient times to the present, Native Americans who gather this plant for use in purification rituals, prepare themselves spiritually first, by prayer and fasting, and gather sage ( and any other medicinal herb) with an attitude of respect and reverence for the Earth Mother.


Leaves are silvery, 1/4 to 1 inch long; plants are usually 2 to 3 or more feet high. Sagebrush has bacteriostatic, astringent, and antioxidant properties. Sagebrush kills bacteria, inhibits free radicals, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic actions, and so is most useful as a cleansing first aid wash for disinfecting wounds and skin irritations. The Hopi used a tea made from the leaves as a medicine for digestive problems, headaches and colds. It is used for similar medicinal purposes by the Navajo, and for the making of a yellow dye for weavers. The leaves can be very useful in the kitchen as a means of protecting stored dried food from insects and rodents. When gathering sagebrush, look for mature plants, strip away leaves and small stems from larger woody stems. Sagebrush is best picked when flowering; tie it in bundles and hang upside down to dry. Stable as long as characteristic scent is present, for up to two years. Substitution: The garden herb known as Sage (Latin name Salvia) is not the same plant, but does have some similar properties.


Do not use in pregnancy, as reported to have caused birth defects in test animals.


Be sure of the identity of the plant before you use it. If a preparation makes you sick or gives you a rash, don't use it, and throw it away! If your condition does not improve, see your doctor. Be sure to let your physician know EVERYTHING that you are taking!

Navajo Medicine Chart

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Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony company. Since 1987