What Is Sage?
Sage is a highly aromatic herb belonging to the same family as oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme and basil- it belongs to the Salvia plant family and is derived from the Latin word salvere which means “to heal.” There are more than 900 species of sage around the world! The sage plant has gray-green leaves (which are edible) and flowers that can be blue, purple, white or pink.
This plant appears to contain a wide variety of anti-inflammatory + antioxidant compounds, and over the recent years, several studies have revealed the many health benefits of the herb. Natural sage is safe for consumption for most people and causes little to no known side effects, but keep in mind that the effectiveness/side effects of products will vary by brands, production processes, and if the individual is allergic to the ingredients.
In addition to being a staple herb and used in various cuisines, it is also used as a natural cleaning agent, pesticide and ritual object in spiritual sage burning or smudging.
Rich In Nutrients & Packed With Antioxidants
Sage is highly rich in nutrients (especially Vitamin K!) and since it is mainly consumed in small amounts, this herb provides only tiny amounts of calories. One teaspoon of sage contains 10% of your daily Vitamin K needs and also contains small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
This green herb is packed with antioxidants, containing over 160 polyphenols (plant-based chemical compounds that act as antioxidants in your body). Many of the polyphenols found in the plant such as caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, ellagic acid, cholorgenic acid and rutin are linked to health benefits such as lower risk of cancer, improved brain function and improved memory. This study discovered that drinking 1 cup of sage tea twice daily notably increased antioxidant defenses and lowered total cholesterol. For more information on teas, feel free to check out our tea guide article here.
Dental Health Benefits of Sage
Sage also has antimicrobial effects, meaning it can neutralize microbes (tiny organisms that encourage the growth of dental plaque), therefore preventing dental plaque. Studies have shown that sage-based mouthwash effectively killed a bacteria that is known to cause dental cavities.
This review mentions that sage may help treat throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums, mouth ulcers and more. More research is needed in this field to make thorough recommendations, but this is a wonderful starting place!
Easing Menopause Symptoms
During menopause, women experience a natural decline in estrogen, a sex hormone that regulates the growth, development and physiology of the human reproductive system. During this natural decline, women may experience unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, excessive sweating, night sweats, vaginal dryness/irritability, etc.
Preliminary evidence suggests that sage may help improve some symptoms of menopause. It is thought that the compounds in sage have properties similar to estrogen which allows them to bind to certain receptors in the brain to improve memory and treat symptoms like got flashes and extreme sweating. In this study, the daily use of a sage supplement reduced the number and the intensity of hot flashes over eight weeks!
Women can also use this herb for easing symptoms of painful menstrual cycles and correcting excessive milk flow during nursing.
Reducing Blood Sugar Levels & Lowering Cholesterol
Sage leaf extract has been linked to lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity, however there is not enough evidence to recommend sage as an official treatment for diabetes as more research is needed in this field.
This herb may also help lower LDL cholesterol (considered the “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in arteries and potentially cause damage). This study, which also mentions improving antioxidant defenses in humans, suggested that drinking sage tea twice daily lowered LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) after just two weeks.
Sage & Mental Performance
Consuming common sage or Spanish sage by mouth may improve memory, alertness and attention. When used for aromatherapy, it does seem to improve alertness but not attention or memory. Several studies have confirmed that sage have promising cognitive enhancing effects but further research is required to study the longer-term effects on cognition, memory and the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Some studies have suggested that sage can be considered for drug development because of their reported pharmacology and therapeutic activities in many countries of Asia and the Middle East, especially in China and India.
Benefits of Burning Sage
Burning sage, also known as cleansing or smudging, is an ancient spiritual ritual and has been established as an essential part of many Native American cultures- but it is not practiced by all tribes. Many other cultures around the world share similar rituals.
Medicinal smokes have powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities, can improve mood and cognition, can serve as a natural insect repellent, and can even help with sleep quality by easing insomnia. In the traditional Native American culture, burning sage is thought to cleanse people and spaces of negativity and promote healing, wisdom and longevity.
If you are sensitive to smoke or can’t have smoke in specific spaces (like a work office), there are other options such as cleansing smudge mist. Buying sage and mist products from an Indigenous company is a great way to directly support the communities where this practice originated! Here are some small shops that carry products that are owned by Native Americans:
What Are The Side Effects?
When consumed as a spice in cuisine, sage is generally considered safe for both adults and children. When taken as a supplement, it does not usually cause side effects if taken at the recommended doses. Sage essential oils (used in aromatherapy) is also considered safe, but keep in mind that similar to other essential oils, sage oil can be toxic and should never be taken orally- and when applying sage oil topically, it is recommended to be diluted with water or it could cause rashes/irritation.
If you are taking medications for diabetes, excessive sage use can trigger a potential severe drop in blood sugar which can lead to hypoglycemia. This herb should also be used in caution if you have impaired kidney function. Communicate with your healthcare provider about any medications that you are taking (including herbal remedies!) so that you can be fully aware of the potential interactions between products and the potential risks.
More Information & Research
- GreenMedInfo | Abstracts With Sage Research
- Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Salvia
- Sage Tea Drinking Improves Lipid Profile and Antioxidant Defenses
- The Antibacterial Effect of Sage Extract Mouthwash
- The Effect of Salvia Officinalis Extract on Menopausal Symptoms
- First Time Proof of Sage’s Tolerability and Efficacy in Menopausal Women
- Preventive Effects of Salvia Officinalis Leaf Extract on Insulin Resistance and Inflammation
- Salvia (Sage): A Review of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects
- What Is Functional Medicine?
- A Practical Guide To Supplements- Favorite Brands, Philosophy & Function
- The Heart Based Practice, A Simple 3 Min. Meditation
- Diet Philosophy: Drop The Dogma & Discover What Works For YOU
- Diet Philosophy Part II: On Personalization
- The Ultimate Tea Guide: Types of Teas & Their Benefits
- Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diet
- Resistant Starch Made Practical
Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®
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