Sage’s bitter principles stimulate digestive secretions, and its tannin content improves resistance to infection. Sage helps thin mucus secretions and also tends to have a drying effect; it has been used to mitigate excessive saliva production in those with Parkinson’s disease. It also improves the digestion of fatty foods and acts as a natural preservative.
Topically, sage can be prepared as a compress or wash to treat eczema, insect bites, poison ivy or oak, psoriasis, and wounds; as a gargle to treat halitosis, laryngitis, mouth sores, sore throat, sore gums, and tonsillitis; as a bath herb to relieve skin eruptions; as a hair rinse to treat dandruff and oily scalp and to help darken gray hair; as a douche to treat leukorrhea; as a facial steam to treat oily or blemished skin; and as a mouthwash to freshen the breath.
garden sage, meadow sage, Spanish sage, Greek sage, Dalmatian sage; Salbel, Salbei, echte Salvei (German); sauge (French); salvia (Italian); Salvia (Spanish)
The generic name for sage, Salvia, comes from the Latin word meaning “to heal” or “saviour”. The ancient Greeks and Romans first used sage as a meat preservative. They also believe it could enhance memory. Pliny prescribed it for snakebite, epilepsy, intestinal worms, chest ailments, and menstruation promotion. Dioscorides considered it a diuretic and menstruation promoter and recommended sage leaves as bandages for wounds. Around the 10th century, Arab physicians believe sage extended life to the point of immortality. After the Crusades, this belief showed up in Europe where the saying: “Why should a man die who grows sage in his garden?” evolved.
Folk healers in America used sage to treat insomnia, epilepsy, measles, seasickness and intestinal worms. The Eclectics used it primarily to treat fever and also prescribed sage poultices for arthritis and the tea as a sexual depressant. As late as the 1920s, US medical texts recommended sage tea as a gargle for a sore throat and sage leaf poultices for sprains and swellings.
Antigalactagogue, anhydrotic, antiseptic (GIT), antiseptic (respiratory tract)
Oral cavity inflammation, tonsillitis, tracheitis, flatulent dyspepsia, galactorrhoea, hyperhydrosis including sweating with menopause, menopausal symptoms
The herb has estrogenic activity, and limited clinical trials have shown it to help relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and dizziness. It also reduces breast-milk production. Sage is a valuable remedy for irregular and light menstruation, encouraging a better flow of blood. Although its hormonal action is not fully understood, there is no doubt that it reduces sweating and is an excellent remedy for menopause, reducing hot flashes and helping the body to adapt to hormonal change.
Mouth and Throat
Sage’s combination of antiseptic, relaxing, and astringent actions makes it ideal for most types of a sore throat, and it is widely used in gargles. It is also used for canker sores and sore gums.
Laboratory studies suggest that sage may be useful in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It also has a tranquilising activity.
Sage has traditionally been used to treat asthma, and the dried leaves are still included in herbal smoking mixtures for this complaint.
- In a number of open studies, sage has reduced sweat production in patients with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). Daily dose ranged from the equivalent of 2.6 to 4.5 g of the leaf.
- A product containing sage and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) extracts produced improvement in the menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats in an open trial conducted for 3 months. The product appeared to provide a slight central antidopaminergic activity.
- In Germany, the Commission E supports using sage to treat dyspeptic symptoms, excessive perspiration, and externally for inflammations of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Powder: 3,000 – 12,000mg
• Liquid Extract: 2 – 4.5mL (1:2 liquid extract)
Contraindicated during pregnancy or lactation (except to stop milk flow) because of potential toxicity
Caution is required with the use of alcoholic preparations because of the presence of thujone. Do not exceed recommended doses and avoid long-term use. Allergic reactions are possible.
Interactions with other drugs
- Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
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