Sage (Salvia Officinalis)

SageSage is one of the four herbs from the Simon and Garfunkel song Scarburough Fair, “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.”  Used as a seasoning for meat, especially poultry, and a common ingredient in Thanksgiving stuffing, sage is also a valuable medicinal herb that is often overlooked in the search for more exotic medicinal plants.

The generic name for sageSalvia, comes from the Latin word meaning “to heal.”  The species name, officinalis, means that is is the species that was considered “official” for use in medicine.  However, there are many other species of sage besides the common garden variety that have also been used for healing.

Sage has been used to treat so many maladies that it’s reputation prompted herb expert Varro Tyler, Ph.D., to write, “If one consults enough herbals every sickness known to humanity will be listed as being cured by sage.”  The French even referred to the herb as toute bonne, meaning “all’s well.”

Garden sage is grown extensively in the Mediterranean region, but it can also be found in gardens throughout the world. It is low-growing and is a compact, rather bushy plant.  It has grayish-green leaves with a rough texture.  The flowers are deep purple bells which are produced in spring. 

Since ancient times sage has been believed to promote longevity.  Around the 10th century Arab physicians believed sage extended life to the point of immortality.  

Sage has a long history of medicinal use in various cultures. Roman healers prescribed it for snakebites, epilepsy, intestinal worms, chest ailments and menstruation promotion. Chinese and Ayurvedic physicians both used sage to treat insomnia, depression, gastrointestinal distress, mental illness, hemorrhoids, gonorrhea, vaginitis, eye disorders, menstrual complaints and nipple inflammation in nursing mothers.

Energetically, sage is aromatic and astringent.  The essential oils in sage are strongly antiseptic and the astringent properties help close cuts and wounds.  This makes sage a very good remedy for treating wounds.  It both speeds healing and prevents infection.

Sage has been shown to have a regulating effect on the sweat glands and is a very specific remedy for night sweats and excessive perspiration. Studies have shown that sage cuts perspiration by as much as 50 percent; the maximum effect occurring two hours after ingestion. 

The astringent properties of sage also make it useful for reducing mucus secretions and arresting other types of discharges. It stimulates the lungs to expel phlegm and relieves wheezing.  It has also been used as a gargle for sore thoats, bleeding gums and canker sores. Gargling with sage tea is a very effective remedy for laryngitis. Sage is an ingredient in CC-A, a formula for treating colds and flu.

Like other aromatics, sage has a positive effect on digestion.  It stimulates digestivve secretions, but it also tones digestive membranes. It helps to preserve foods, particularly meats.  The ancient Greeks and Romans first used sage as a meat preservative.

Sage can be helpful as a female remedy, too, especially clary sage (Salvia sclarea), which has estrogenic properties. White sage (Salvia apiana) is used to reduce the swelling and pain associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Sage (all species) dries up breast milk and should be avoided by nursing mothers until they are ready to quit nursing. 

Salvia root or dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) is a prominent Chinese herb.  It is used to regulate mensus and aid liver function. It is an ingredient in Chinese Blood Build, which is used to nourish the blood.  It is a useful formula for women who suffer from anemia and weakness due to heavy menstrual bleeding.

As an aid in female nutrition, sage is helpful in restoring the uterus and returning the menses.  It promotes estrogen and harmonizes menopause.  In addition, it helps to promote contractions and labor during childbirth.  The essential oil of sage stimulates the uterus, explaining its traditional use in menstruation promotion.

Sage has a reputation as an aid to healthy skin and hair, which is why it is found in the formula HSN-W for strengthening hair, skin and fingernails.  Sage also has a reputation as an herb to aid the brain, which is why a intellegent person is called a sage.  So, if you want to be wise, make sage an ingredient in your herbal medicine chest.

Suggested intake is one capsule with meals between meals twice daily.  For colds, flu, fever, sore throat or laryngitis, make into a tea using the contents of 2-3 capsules per cup and sip frequently.

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