Sunday, December 29, 2013


Sage-Salvia Officinalis, Salvia Lavandulifolia, Salvia Fruticosa, Salvia Sclarea, Salvia Miltirohiza, etc.

Also known as:  common sage, garden sage, clary sage, Greek sage, narrow-leafed sage, Mexican sage, etc.

Parts used:  leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  respiratory, digestive, nervous, immune, kidneys, brain, liver, gallbladder, blood, stomach

Properties:  astringent, expectorant, tonic, aromatic, antispasmodic, nervine, vermifuge, emmenogogue, antiviral, antifungal, diuretic, stimulant, antiseptic, stomachic, carminative, diaphoretic, sudorific, antibacterial, galactophyga, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, styptic, anti-sudorific

Sage is a member of the Labitae family (also known as the Mint family).  It is a shrubby plant with velvety leaves that are grayish-green in color.  In the summer it produces lovely whorls of purplish-blue flowers that bees love.  There are over 700 species of sage so the flowers and leaves change with the variety.  Garden sage is the most commonly used (salvia officinalis) for culinary and medicinal purposes but the essential oil of clary sage (salvia sclarea) is most widely used for aromatherapy and topical application with massage therapy, etc.  The essential oil of garden sage is considered toxic so is never used.  The leaves are best gathered before the plant blooms in late July and August.

Sage is one of the plants that goes back to earliest recorded history.  The Chinese, who call it red ginseng (aside from red sage), used to trade China tea for it in great supply.  They believed it gave them longevity and sagacity (wisdom).  The Latin term for sage 'salvere' is to be 'saved' or 'safe and well', and indeed it was considered to be a cure-all since ancient times where it was referred to as 'salvia salvatrix' meaning 'sage the saviour'.  It is a native of the Mediterranean but can now be found globally in a host of varieties.  It is commonly mistaken with the wild sages (wormwood, sagebrush, etc.) which are a completely different species of plants (artemesia). 

Herbalists have used sage for ages for kidney diseases, sore throats, digestive issues, and respiratory infections.  It was used quite commonly (and quite effectively) for colds.  It was combined with apple cider vinegar and used as a gargle for tonsillitis, laryngitis, and sore throats.  The tea was used as a mouthwash for ulcers and gum infections.  It has been found to have the ability to stop sweating as well as to start it (adaptogenic) and in this regard has been used effectively over the centuries for hot flashes associated with menopause.  It has also been used to calm inflammation due to abscesses, wounds and skin disorders.  Clary sage (the tea) was often used as an eye wash for strained eyes and blurred vision.

The Germans also used clary sage to adulterate wine and make it taste more like the expensive muscatel wine.  Clary sage, however, has the tendency to enhance drunkenness and worsen hangovers when used in that capacity. 

In the Middle Ages clary sage was used to prevent night sweats of tuberculosis patients.  It also has been found to fortify the nervous system and is a brain stimulant (hence the 'wisdom' aspect attached to this herb).  Over the centuries it has proven useful across the board for all female complaints.  It has estrogenic components that help to balance female hormones, regulate menstruation, help with cramping and painful periods, and dry up breast milk of nursing mothers who are trying to wean their babies.

It is good used as a poultice for inflammatory conditions and was said to be used as such for small pox, measles, typhoid and scarlet fever.  It also has been found to be a good substitute for quinine.  It has been used for the flu, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, headaches, gas, stomach and bowel complaints, fevers, dandruff, hair loss, graying hair, memory loss, etc.  Gerard said that, "It is singular good for the head and braine, quickeneth the senses and memory, strengthens the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsie, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members."  Sir John Hill (another herbalist) agrees with Gerard and said that sage, "...will retard that rapid progress of decay that treads upon our heels so fast in the latter years of life, will preserve the faculties and memory, more valuable to the rational mind than life itself without them; and will relieve under that faintness, strengthen under that weakness and prevent absolutely that sad depression of spirits..." 

The Native Americans have used it as a sacred smoke smudge for centuries to open up the physical and spiritual spectrums.  They would also mix it with mullein and comfrey for respiratory issues.  The Chinese used/use it to treat pain, hepatitis, hives, insomnia, and female disorders.  The Greeks have highly valued this plant.  Hippocrates used it in his 400 simples and Dioscorides used it a lot for liver diseases.  The Egyptians would use it as a remedy for plague and for female infertility. 

The oil of clary sage has been found to strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, relax muscles, alleviate emotional upset and anxiety, encourage digestion, and reduce inflammation of many dermatological conditions.  Safe has been found effective against strep, staph, psendomonas bacteria, E. Coli, candida, pneumonia, salmonella and the flu.  More recent studies have found that it inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine-which makes it useful for Alzheimer's or to protect against Alzheimer's.

Sage is not recommended for pregnant women as it stimulates menstruation.  It is also not recommended for those with epileptic tendencies (at least the oil isn't) as it is a brain stimulant and excessive amounts can trigger seizures in susceptible individuals.

Sage is high is several compounds that are considered to be toxic in excess, so I using the tea please take it for no more than one week at a time and then give your body a two week break before beginning it again.

As is customary with all of my posts I am including some links herein.  Use them as you see fit.  Stay strong, healthy and happy!

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