Botanical: Salvia officinalis
Family: Labiatae (mint)
Other common names: Common Sage, Garden Sage, Kitchen Sage, Dalmatian Sage, Meadow Sage, True Sage
"How shall a man die whilst Sage grows in his garden,
if not because nothing can stand against death?"
- attributed to Hildegard of Bingen
12th century naturalist, philosopher, physician
A staple in your kitchen cabinet, don't forget Sage as an herbal way to good health! Its medicinal uses abound, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-ageing qualities. Improve your memory; calm your digestive and nervous systems with Sage.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Sage is an evergreen shrub with a distinctive fragrance that may grow to a height of almost three feet, and it thrives in rich, well-drained soil in sunny locations. It is native to the Mediterranean region and was introduced to North America in the seventeenth century, where it continues to grow throughout the temperate regions. Sage is a member of the multi-species Salvia genus, and despite the fact that any herb of this genus may be called Sage, there are significant differences in medicinal components in the tops and roots that influence their uses. Salvia officinalis (Garden Sage) and Salvia miltiorrheza (Salvia Root/Red Root Sage) are in no way similar to another member of the Sage genus, Salvia divinorum, which is a dangerous psychoactive plant and subject to regulation as a controlled substance under several states’ drug regulation statutes. In an 1833 publication, Russian botanist, Alexander von Bunge (1803-1890), gave the plant its botanical genus, Salvia, which is translated from the Latin word, salvere, meaning "to save" or "to cure," as Sage enjoyed the reputation of being able to cure a multitude of ills, and many varieties of Sage possess virtually all the same properties. The Romans, who named this robust herb, held it in the highest regard and thought it to be the herbal savior of mankind. Those ancients considered it a sacred herb and believed that its growth in one's garden would promote immortality. An old Arab proverb asked, "How shall a man die whilst Sage grows in his garden?" - a reference to the plant's power of immortality. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) mentioned the use of Sage in 206 B.C., to increase physical strength, mental equanimity and alertness, and body heat. Native Americans massaged their gums and teeth with Sage and also used it for healing skin sores. It was so valued in China in the seventeenth century that Dutch merchants discovered the Chinese would trade three chests of their China tea for one chest of Sage leaves. As a cooking herb, Sage is considered to have a slight peppery flavor. In western cuisine, it is used for flavoring fatty meats, cheeses (Sage Derby) and some drinks. In Britain and Flanders, Sage is used for poultry or pork stuffing and sauces and is the dominant flavor in English Lincolnshire sausage. In France, Sage is used for white meat and vegetable soups, and Germans often use it in sausages. Sage is also common in the healthy diets of Italians and sautéed in olive oil and added to pasta. Included in Sage's chemical constituents are beta-carotene, essential acids (oleic, ursonic, ursolic, cornsole, cornsolic, fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic), essential oils (thujone, cineole, borneol, camphor and eucalyptol), flavonoids, saponin, tannins, niacin, nicotinamide, flavone glycosides, phytoestrogenic substances, minerals and vitamins B and C. The strongest active constituents of Sage are within its essential oil.
Sage is a mild tonic that fortifies a generally debilitated nervous system. Instead of sedating the nervous system as some nervine herbs do, it actually helps to stimulate the central nervous system, strengthening it to reduce excess nervous energy. This mild tonic helps to induce sleep, quiet the nerves, relieve spasms, as well as combat temporary depression symptoms, mental exhaustion, trembling and nervousness. It not only helps to calm the nerves, but has been used to ease seasickness, and traditional herbalists even thought it useful in treating certain forms of insanity.
As a powerful astringent, Sage can be a drying herb that has the ability to slow down the secretion of fluids in the body. It is considered an antiperspirant and natural deodorizer that works from inside out. Apparently, the tannins and volatile oils account for its ability to dry up perspiration and slow excessive saliva flow. This quality may also help to reduce the heavy perspiration of night sweats and hot flashes.
Sage is an old and trusted remedy for drying up breast milk when women wish to stop nursing.
Mucous congestion in the nasal passages and airways of the respiratory tract may also be dried by the use of Sage. In addition, its drying, astringent effect has been used to treat diarrhea.
Sage promotes good digestion and is considered one of the best remedies for stomach troubles. As a digestive aid, Sage helps to stimulate the appetite, ease gas pains, remove mucus in the stomach, relieve biliousness and dyspepsia, and can be beneficial in digesting foods of all kinds, both savory and sweet. Its "bitter" component stimulates upper digestive secretions, increasing bile flow and pancreatic function; and it is said to keep the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, spleen and sexual organs healthy.
Living up to its name, Sage is said to be a stimulant that strengthens the brain and promotes wisdom. Since antiquity, it has been reputed to slow down the ageing process and endow long life. It appears to be a memory strengthener, helping to restore failing memory in the elderly and working to improve concentration in all who use it.
Sage is considered an "emmenagogue," an agent that is used to bring on suppressed menstruation. Additionally, it is said to help regulate its flow. Researchers claim that Sage has phytoestrogenic effects on the body that may treat estrogen deficiency. This may be a contributing factor in Sage's use for the relief of hot flashes that result from either hysterectomy or menopause.
Recent studies claim that as a stimulant, Sage helps to improve circulation and relieve headaches. It is also gaining a reputation for increasing circulation to the heart.
Sage is a powerful antioxidant that will inhibit destructive and harmful free-radical compounds. It is also an anti-inflammatory that will help to shrink and soothe inflamed tissue.
As an antifungal, Sage has been shown to exhibit anti-yeast activity against Candida albicans; and in cell cultures, Sage inhibited antiviral activity in herpes simplex virus II and influenza virus A2.
As a "vulnerary" Sage will assist in healing wounds by protecting against infection and stimulating cell growth. Used topically, Sage's antiseptic properties will clean sores and old ulcers, treat cuts, wounds and bruises, and will help to stop bleeding and encourage healing. Sage is used externally for insect bites, throat, mouth, gum and skin infections and vaginal discharge (leukhorrea).
A Sage gargle is a well-known, old-fashioned herbal antiseptic remedy for disorders affecting the mouth and throat, such as dental abscesses, infected gums, mouth ulcers, sore and bleeding gums, loose teeth, cold sores, sore throat, tonsillitis and throat infections.
The medicinal uses of Sage abound. The antiseptic properties in Sage are useful in treating intestinal and respiratory infections, and the essential oil, heated in a vaporizer, will disinfect a sick room. The herb has also been effective in breaking fevers, reducing cold symptoms, treating dysentery and expelling worms and parasites.
Sage's cosmetic uses are numerous. It is used in baths as a relaxant and to soothe sore muscles, in shampoos to cleanse the scalp and stimulate hair growth, in soaps to cleanse and restore ageing skin; and in hair rinses to promote shine (especially in dark hair).
Sage is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, nor should it be taken by individuals with seizure disorders (those with epilepsy may be adversely affected by the thujone content). Sage may interfere with the absorption of iron or other minerals in the body. Those who are allergic to members of the mint family (thyme, basil, sage, marjoram, etc.), should avoid this herb.