Materia Medica – Sagebrush


Artemisia tridentate (Asteraceae)
Commonly called: Big sagebrush, Great Basin sagebrush, or simply (locally) sagebrush.


Sagebrush is a slivery-gray, many-branched low shrub with yellow flowers usually standing 0.5-3m tall. The leaves attached to the branches are wedge shaped and are 1-3cm long with wider outer lips divided into three lobes. The leaves are covered with fine silvery hairs and the small yellow flowers grow in long, loosely arranged tubular clusters.

-Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, seeds, oils

-Habitat and Cultivation: Grows in arid and semi-arid conditions throughout the Intermountain West of North America. Sagebrush is a dominant plant across the Great Basin and provides food and habitat for a variety of animal species. In the summer, the plant’s tap roots, which extend 1-4 meters into the ground, help it withstand the dry conditions. In the winter these roots capture snow and retain moisture that supports growth.

-Harvesting: (Picking the seeds) Wrap hand around the bottom of flower stalk and pull straight forward, stripping the stalk.


Bitter principles, flavonoids, tannins, silica, antibiotic polyacetylenes, inulin, hydroxycoumarins, volatile oils

Actions and Energetics

-Actions: stimulating/sedating, nervine, emmenagogue

-Energetics: cooling, bitter, pungent


Antiseptic, disinfectant, headache, stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, menstrual cramps, rashes, toothache


Tincture, compress, essential oil, flower essence, fresh

Contemporary Use

You can cut branches of it to wrap and use for smudge

Traditional Use and Folklore

-Native Americans used to dry and smoke the leaves, similar to tobacco leaves.

-The plant was used in puberty ceremonies for women amongst several Native American tribes.

-Southern California natives (The Kumeyaay) used the fumes from burning sagebrush to battle upper respiratory infections.

-Sagebrush or “Artemisia” was named after Artemis, the Roman goddess of chastity, hunting, and the moon.

-European settlers arriving in the West regarded sagebrush as a good omen since where it grew in abundance the soil was fertile enough to support farming.

Precautions and Contradictions

During pregnancy or lactation. Not for use with emphysema or bronchiectasis.

Combinations and Similar Herbs

-With Yarrow: digestion and helps induce sweating

-With Ragweed: menstrual symptoms

-With Chamomile: stomach ache

-With Wormwood: digestion, sweat inducing, and stomachaches

-With Lavender: antiseptic properties

-With Tarragon: toothache and digestion

Medicine Message

Sagebrush has healing powers that aid in purifying the heart, mind, and body and accelerating personal evolution. She helps us see through our patterns and addictions so negativity can be eliminated from our lives. She manifests strength to realign us with higher principles and make positive personal transformations. Through her, we are able to purge ourselves of impure intentions that have brought suffering to the soul. Sagebrush sustains abundant, pure, and unconditional love.