The history of Sage dates back to papyrus found in Europe for several centuries BC. It was used as a tonic thought to improve memoranda promote wisdom. There are many medicinal and household uses for this robust plant.
Characteristics of the Sage plant
- This evergreen shrub hardy to withstand wintery conditions, yet docile enough to flourish in the kitchen garden.
- The plant itself has fibrous, wide-spreading roots with a tough, brown woody stem.
- The Leaves of the sage plant are light grey-green, oblong shaped with a rounded tip.
- Blooming in June or July the flowers can be purple, pink, whit or red in clusters that grow along the end of a shoot.
- The seeds are black and tiny.
Uses and Benefits of Sage
- Sage leaves can be used either fresh or dried.
- Its bitter, lemony flavor is often paired with rich and fatty meats such as game, sausage, or fish.
- Its flavor is also used in stuffings, marinades, salads, and cheeses.
- Sage leaves that are fresh, dried or in oil form can be used as an antiseptic
- for sore throats,
- astringent for skin ailments,
- effectively for dental abscesses,
- infected gums
- mouth ulcers,
- Studies have also shown that sage can help with lowering blood sugar in diabetic patients
- Used to calm the nervous and/or hysterical
- Sage is a relaxant; the plant is suitable in the treatment of nervousness, excitability and dizziness.
- Sage Tea or infusion of Sage is a valuable agent in the delirium of fevers and in the nervous excitement frequently accompanying brain and nervous diseases.
- Reduces menopausal symptoms
- It has a considerable reputation as a remedy, given in small and often-repeated doses. It is highly serviceable as a stimulant tonic in debility of the stomach and nervous system and weakness of digestion generally. For this reason the Chinese valued it, giving it preference to their own tea.
- It is considered a useful medicine in typhoid fever
- beneficial in biliousness, liver complaints, kidney troubles, haemorrhage from the lungs or stomach, for colds in the head, quinsy, measles, for pains in the joints, lethargy and palsy.
- It has been used to check excessive perspiration in phthisis cases, and is useful as an emmenagogue.
- In Germany, sage tea is also applied topically as a rinse or gargled for inflammations. Sage extract, tincture, and essential oil are all used in prepared medicines for mouth and throat and as gastrointestinal remedies in fluid (e.g., juice) and solid dosage forms (Leung and Foster, 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Rosmarinic acid contributes to the herb’s anti-inflammatory activity.
- The phenolic acids in sage are particularly potent against Staphylococcus aureus.
- Sage oil has been shown to be effective against both Escherichia coli and Salmonella species, as well as against filamentous fungi and yeasts such as Candida albicans.
- Sage also has an astringent action due to its relatively high tannin content and can be used in the treatment of infantile diarrhea;
- Its antiseptic action is of value where there is intestinal infection.
- Reduces muscle tension.
- Sage has an anti-spasmodic action which reduces tension in smooth muscle and can be used in a steam inhalation for asthma attacks
- It is an excellent remedy for helping to remove mucous congestion in the airways and for checking or preventing secondary infection.
- Relieves indigestion; reduces symptoms of indigestion
- Useful in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea.
- Its bitter component stimulates upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function. It is well documented that sage leaf helps to reduce menopausal sweats.
- In one study, excessive sweating was induced by pilocarpine
- The sweating was reduced when participants were given a liquid extract of fresh sage leaf. In a further study 40 patients were given dried aqueous extract of fresh sage (440mg) and 40 were given infusion of sage (4.5g) herb daily.
- Both groups of patients experienced a reduction in sweating.
- It is thought that sage is similar to Rosemary in its ability to improve brain function and memory.
- The activity of sage and its constituents have been investigated in the search for new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with promising results.
- Sage is often found in shampoos for it’s ability to improve hair strength and growth.
- In toothpastes sage is used for its whitening properties and to help strengthen gums.
- The astringent attributes of sage are often found in deodorant and aftershaves.
Home and Garden
- The sage plant can be planted around the home or garden to repeal insects such as flies and cabbage moths.
- Attracts honey bees with the additional benefit of creating an aromatic honey.
- The sage root can also be used as a dye for turning yarn yellow.
- Due to sage’s antibacterial properties it is found in many foods to extend shelf life.
- When distilled, sage extracts are made into a flavorless antioxidant, also used to extend edibility of foods.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Dry up breast milk;
- According to an article published on the Le Leche League International website, “Sage (Salvia officinalis) is noted in lactation and herbal texts alike as having a folk reputation for lowering milk supply (Bissett 1994, Riordan: and Auerbach 1993).” However, in every case, multiple doses of the tea are required.
- Avoid ingesting quantities of this herb if you are breastfeeding.
- Convulsions; Thujone is a toxic ingredient in sage and other substances like absinthe.
- The European Commission Scientific Committee on Food prepared a report on thujone and concluded that “The principal manifestation of intoxication by thujone is epileptiform convulsions in animals and man.
- The Commission supported the restrictions of upper levels of this ingredient in foods, primarily due to this side effect.