Sage derives its name from the Latin word “salvere” that means to be saved. So it may come at no surprise to discover the many medicinal benefits of sage. This herb has been used medicinally since antiquity by the Romans and Greeks. It is native to the Mediterranean and the south-eastern part of Europe.
Medicinal benefits of sage derive from the volatile oils found in this herb, which give it its smell and warm / bitter flavor. Sage is a diuretic so keep this in mind if drinking it in tea.
Growing sage is quite easy, since this plant usually requires dry conditions (it is very drought tolerant) and humidity. There are many types of sage which may have medicinal, culinary or ornamental functions. Ideal growing conditions may vary depending on the variety and some are even resistant to winter.
Sage size changes between species, some are small while others reach several feet in height. Flowers bloom in different colors from blue to red, pink, white and purple. Sage is part of the mint (Lamiaceae) family like basil, mint, rosemary, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, and lavender.
Sage has no cholesterol, fat or sodium. It is also low in calories, only 6.3 per tablespoon of ground sage. This herb is high in vitamin K (10% of your daily needs). It also has vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Medicinal benefits of sage are derived from its phenolic acids, carnosic acid, carnosol and camphor. Phenolic acids have antioxidant properties, protecting cells (including heart and brain) from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Carnosic acid and carnosol are also antioxidants, as well as anti-inflamatories. They help regulate inflammation, lipids and blood sugar. While camphor stimulates nerve ending, which is why its included in many creams. Camphor is also responsible for the aroma of sage.
Sage is also used as a natural cleaning agent, including spiritually in burning or smudging rituals.
Medicinal Benefits of Sage
Anti- Inflammatory (and Dental Health)
One of the medicinal benefits of sage is its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in medicines to treat inflammations of the mouth and throat (including mucous membranes, tonsils and ulcerated throat). A 2009 study done Switzerland shows that sage extract and echinacea is as effective as chlorhexidine and lidocaine (pharmaceutical drugs) in treating sore throats. Sage tea can be used as a rinse or gargle if preferred.
It is also used to improve dental health and is included in mouthwashes to treat cankers and gum disease. Sage can also kill the Candida albicans fungus which causes cavities.
Medicinal benefits of sage include its calmative effect which is helpful in treating indigestion since it stimulates bile flow, intestinal mobility, pancreatic function and digestive secretions. This tonic works great to stimulate a weak digestive system and stomach. It can be used for mild gastrointestinal problems and dyspepsia. Sage helps treat heavy digestion, vomiting, diarrhea and colics. It also helps with gastritis and heartburn.
A study published in the Phytotherapeutic Research journal showed improvements in blood lipids in subjects after three months. Findings show lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, while HDL (good cholesterol) was higher.
The anti-spasmodic effect of this herb is effective in preventing asthma attacks. One of the medicinal benefits of sage is its ability to reduce mucous congestion in airways and reduce tension in muscles. Use this herb for its cough suppressing properties. Its bactericidal properties help with any kind of breathing disease including influenza or cold. Sage oil or boiled leaves can be used in stem inhalation to strengthen the respiratory system.
One of the most bizarre medicinal benefits of sage is its ability to reduce sweating by as much as 50% according to a study done in Germany. It helps eliminate odor from the body and dries perspiration. Sage can be used in foot baths to eliminate bad odor caused by perspiration.
Test tube studies (not done in humans) show that the rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid and carnosol found in sage inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This includes several types of cancer including liver, colon, breast, prostate, small cell lung carcinoma and chronic myeloid leukemia. Studies done in mice show that it could also prevent skin cancer and bone metastasis from breast cancer.
One of the hardest to believe medicinal benefits of sage is its ability to improve memory and information processing. British folk medicine believes this, so a group of scientists decided to put it to the test and the results were positive since participants showed significant improvements in word recall.
This is due to the two types of phenolic acids, caffein and rosmarinic, found in sage. Studies done on mice show that sage can improve alertness, speed recall and cognitive skills. As well as improve short term memory, mood and reduce anxiety.
Studies done on humans show that medicinal benefits of sage are also helpful for those with Alzheimer’s. Oils found in sage improve acetylcholinesterase (Ach) levels in the brain which improve concentration and memory loss.
Those that have diabetes and want to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of sage should make sure to monitor their blood sugar and let their doctors know since it can interfere with their medicines. Sage is used as a remedy against diabetes since it helps lower blood sugar levels. This herb activates a receptor that clears excess free fatty cells in blood and improves insulin sensibility.
Benefits for Women
Sage should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is used by women who want to wean off their babies from breastfeeding because of its astringent tannins. Medicinal benefits of sage for women include reduction in menopause symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and night sweats. This is done without influencing hormonal levels.
This herb is an emmenagogue which brings on menstruation and reduces pain. Sage can be mixed with rosemary and chamomile to treat cramp pain. Use in baths to treat excessive vaginal discharge or infections.
Sage is included in many hair products because of its multiple benefits. Rosemary is also beneficial for the hair so it is possible to use both together by brewing them in a tea and boiling them in water. Allow the mixture to steep for 3 hours and apply to your hair without rinsing. Sage has the ability to intensify and darken hair (helps with grey hair) color. This is suitable for people with brown or black hair.
This herb also makes your hair shiny and can prevent dandruff (since it is an astringent). Sage makes your hair grow since it improves circulation in the scalp and provides nutrition to the hair follicles.
Medicinal benefits of sage include its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which are are ideal for treating so many skin conditions from acne to psoriasis and eczema. Its antibacterial properties are great for preventing skin infections. Those with oily skin can use sage as a toner to regulate sebum production in the face. Just make some sage tea and wait for the tea to cool. Drain and dab on face.
Sage one of the best anti-aging herbs you can use. Antioxidant provide protection against free radicals which damage skin cells causing wrinkles and age spots. Vitamin A and calcium found in sage protect the skin and help regenerate cells. Sage is also effective in treating sunburns and folliculitis.
Sage Side Effects
There are no side effects of using sage for culinary purposes. Those wanting to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of sage should be careful since it may not safe if overused or used for a long period of time. Limit your consumption of sage tea to 3-6 per day. This is because of thujone, found in sage, a neurotoxin responsible for the mind-altering effects of absinthe. Spanish sage does not contain thujone. Over-consumption of sage can cause kidney damage, seizures, tremors, dizziness, rapid heart rate and vomiting.
Sage essential oil is toxic, so it should not be taken orally. Those who apply it topically must use a carrier oil to dilute it, otherwise it can cause a rash or irritation. Use topical sage creams for short periods and apply as directed. Sage capsules and extracts should not exceed the recommended dose on the product label. Doses up to 1,000 milligrams a day are usually considered safe and tolerated. Make sure you purchase high quality supplements.
Those who take medications should let their healthcare providers know before taking advantage of the medicinal benefits of sage. People with impaired kidney function should be especially careful. Avoid using sage medicinally for two weeks before surgery as it may affect blood sugar levels.
This herb can also interfere with pharmaceutical drugs. Those on diabetes medication need to be careful since sage can cause a drop in blood sugar that may cause hypoglycemia. Make sure to watch your blood sugar if you have diabetes and want to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of sage. It can also make anti-convulsion drugs less effective.
Pregnant women should not try to get medicinal benefits of sage since it can cause them to get their period and miscarriage. It should also be avoided while breastfeeding, as it reduces the supply of milk. Spanish sage should be avoided by those women that have conditions that may be affected by exposure to estrogen including endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.