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White Sage

A close-up of a plant

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Raffi Kojian, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia

White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)

Artemisia ludoviciana is also known as White Sagebrush, Grey Sagewort, Western Mugwort, Louisiana Wormwood, and Silver Wormwood. White Sage is native to North America and found throughout Canada, the US, and Mexico. It can grow 1–3 feet tall with thin, spear-shaped leaves up to 4 inches long. Both leaves and stems are covered in fine white to gray hairs, from which the name derives.  

Historical Use

White Sage is native only to the Western Hemisphere; historical information relies on ethnographic writings about its wide usage by Native Americans for a variety of purposes. The fibers of the plant were used for cordage and weaving, for paintbrushes, and reportedly to flavor food (Hart, 1992). White Sage was also rubbed on the skin or stuffed into shoes or saddles as a deodorant (Hellson, 1974). Used for ceremonial purposes by many tribes, the plant was most often associated with cleansing or purification rituals (Hart, 1992). Additionally, White Sage was burned to keep away mosquitoes, to ritually clean a person or site, and during sweat lodge ceremonies. Medicinally, White Sage was used as snuff to help with sinus congestion, nosebleeds, or headache (Hart, 1992). 

Current Use

White Sage is often grown as an ornamental plant in yards and gardens, as it is a hardy perennial. It is still often used in traditional ways, but there has been increasing research on medicinal uses of Artemisia ludoviciana. Studies have shown that extracts from the plant have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties (Lopes-Lutz, Alviano, Alviano, & Kolodziejczyk, 2008). Other studies have suggested antifungal properties (McCutcheon, Ellis, Hancock, & Towers, 1994). Additionally, essential oils from White Sage have been investigated for potential use in pain relief(Anaya-Eugenio, Rivero-Cruz, Bye, Linares, & Mata, 2016).  

Latest Research


Anaya-Eugenio, G. D., Rivero-Cruz, I., Bye, R., Linares, E., & Mata, R. (2016). Antinociceptive activity of the essential oil from Artemisia ludoviciana. J Ethnopharmacol, 179, 403-411. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2016.01.008 

Hart, J. (1992). Montana Native Plants and Early Peoples. Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press. 

Hellson, J. C. (1974). Ethnobotany of the Blackfoot Indians. Ottowa: National Museums of Canada. 

Lopes-Lutz, D., Alviano, D. S., Alviano, C. S., & Kolodziejczyk, P. P. (2008). Screening of chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Artemisia essential oils. Phytochemistry, 69(8), 1732-1738. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.02.014 

McCutcheon, A. R., Ellis, S. M., Hancock, R. E., & Towers, G. H. (1994). Antifungal screening of medicinal plants of British Columbian native peoples. J Ethnopharmacol, 44(3), 157-169. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(94)01183-4