The scientific paper entitled “Medicinal Smokes” and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology focuses a scientific lens on the practice, which is becoming more and more widely practiced, despite skepticism.
It serves to play against the role that this activity has played in a culturally diverse range of religions and tribal beliefs.
The research study looked into herbal and non-herbal remedies that were administered by the burning of various matter.
The research included information from 50 countries over 5 continents and found that, predominantly, smoke administered medicinally is mostly used to aid lung, brain and skin function. In addition, it was revealed that passive fumes doubled as a sort of air purifier.
The purpose of the study was to see whether or not these medicinal smoke deliveries could be explored by western medicine, because “The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production.”
A follow up paper published in the same periodical, “Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria,” found that the research concluded that, in addition to health benefits, smudging was a powerful antiseptic.
“Despite skepticism”? I would have thought “despite abject fear and trembling” would be more like it.
For I think the main thing that struck me about this piece was that in our antismoking era, the very idea of “medicinal smoke” is a contradiction in terms. These days, smoke can never be “medicinal”. It is always dangerous. Think of all the thousands of chemicals – many of them carcinogenic – in the smoke! And doesn’t that photo look just like an enormous cigarette spewing out huge quantities of SHS? And the kind of thing that would have antismokers sprinting to the door, clutching their hands over their mouths?
We have been disabled from thinking of smoke as in any sense medicinal. And yet the use of medicinal, purifying smoke is of very great antiquity. Did the ancients get it all wrong – for thousands of years? Was incense killing people?