How to Use Sweetgrass
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Line Tremblay
Posted on: September 27, 2002

I am not a great gardener but I do dabble. This often creates questions. That is why I was trying to find info on growing and harvesting sweet grass. I have purchased it this past spring from Richters. It has taken and is growing; now what do I do with it? There seems to little info wherever I look. I would appreciate you help in learning about sweet grass.

Sweetgrass is used for spiritual and religious purposes by native American Indians. The dried leaves are used to make smudge sticks that are used in purification rites. There has been a growing interest in smudge sticks over the past couple of decades, as people look increasingly for ways of dealing with the ills of modern life such as pollution, stress, and too much reliance on materialism.

Sweetgrass is a traditonal material used by the native Americans for making baskets. When dried, the long leaves develop a wonderful sweet vanilla-like scent that is very uplifting to the spirit.

Sweetgrass is not used for culinary purposes as far as we know. It has been used for medicinal purposes by the Blackfoot Indians of Alberta and Montana. For example, the smoke from burning leaves was used to treat colds and an infusion of the leaves was taken for coughs and sore throat. The Blackfoot also used it to make hair tonic, for treating windburn and venereal disease, and as an eyewash. They even chewed the grass as a "strengthener" to boost endurance during religious ceremonies that involved extended fasting. John Hellson documents these uses in his 1974 book, "Ethnobotany of the Blackfoot Indians" published by the National Museumms of Canada in Ottawa.

For instructions on how to smudge and make smudge sticks from sweetgrass and other plants, visit http://www.smudging.com/Smudge-main.htm or http://altnature.com/thegarden/sweet.htm.

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