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The Medicinal Properties fo the Herb and Spice Sage, Salvia Officianalis

The Medicinal Properties of the Herb and Common Spice Sage, Salvia Officianalis

By Heather Caruso BSc., Hom, RNCP/ROHP


     Historically sage was used to heal snake bites and used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary uses. In the 10th century Arabians used it for immortality and Europeans in the 14th century used it to ward off witchcraft. Ancient Egyptians used sage as a fertility drug. In the first century, the Greek physician Dioscorides documented that sage stops the bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. The botanical name salvia is derived from the Latin word "salvere" which means to be saved. Sage is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial woody plant that is closely related to rosemary and many of sage’s health properties comes from a compound called rosemarinic acid. It grows up to two feet high and produces greyish green, leaves. There are many varieties of sage and some are simply ornamental for the garden. Sage comes fresh, ground, dried, in tea, tincture or capsule form. Sage contains a lot of nutrition in just one gram. It contains a hefty dose of vitamin K. Sage also contains fiber, vitamin A, B, C, E, folate, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.

     Sage is useful for memory. Mercola’s website shared the results of a placebo-controlled, double-blind, “crossover trial on sage involving 44 participants showed significantly improved, immediate, and several-hours-later measures of word and cognitive recall. The results represented the first systematic evidence that "salvia is capable of acute modulation of cognition in healthy young adults.”

     Sage can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol. A small study of 40 people with diabetes and high cholesterol took sage leaf extract for 3 months. They found that after that period of time, the subjects had lower blood sugar, lower fasting glucose and lower total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). They increased their good cholesterol, HDL. Researchers reported that “sage leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-profile-improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients." Another double blind study of 80 individuals with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, found that sage caused a positive effect on blood sugar levels. After a 2 hour fast they had significantly lower blood sugar than the control group.

     Compounds in sage seem to be anti-inflammatory. One study found that sage helps with inflammation of the gum tissue. Some of the compounds in sage helped to reduce this type of inflammation. Sage is also used for colds and sore throats. Sage juice gargled helps with sore throat, hoarseness and inflammation. Sage has reported as effective for sore throats, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. In vitro, the phenololic acids in sage oil has been shown to be effective against both Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, yeast and fungus like Candida albicans.

     Sage has been reported to help reduce tension in smooth muscle. It can be used in steam inhalation for asthma attacks. It has a good effect on reducing mucous in the airways and preventing further infections. It also seems to help with relaxation in general and may be helpful in nervousness and exhaustion.

     Sage can be helpful in digestive issues and colic. It may reduce colicky pains and other symptoms of indigestion. It is a valuable tool with the treatment of dysmenorrhea. It has bitter compounds that stimulate the upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, while the volatile oil has a carminative and stimulating effect on the digestion.

     Sage is useful for menopausal symptoms. Several studies have found it helpful for hot flushes, night sweats, and its estrogenic effect. One Swiss study, reported that one tablet per day of sage over 8 weeks, helped 71 patients reduce their hot flushes from 50 to 100%. Another study found that 440mgs of dried sage or an infusion of 4.5 grams, helped to significantly reduce menopausal sweating.

     Sage is not recommended for anyone with estrogenic cancers, during pregnancy and breast feeding. A variety of sage, called Spanish sage will increase blood pressure whilst common sage will reduce it. It is not to be used with people who may have seizures or before surgery. Ask your pharmacist about medication and sage’s interaction.

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