Wanting to know more about sage, how to use it and its benefits? This is another favourite herb of mine and below I cover its uses and benefits.
Different types of sage
Sage is a perennial herb (with some annual varieties) in the family of Labiatae/Lamiaceae. You should know that there are many different types of sage. These include various Salvia officinalis cultivars, with forms that are curly, golden leaved, pink flowers, bicolored or more.
Epic gardening covers a good array of the different types of sage, culinary and non-culinary, with images. Here I’m going to stick with two for the purposes of this article: common sage and white sage.
Common sage (Salvia officinalis) has silvery green leaves with a leathery feel and flowers are lavender and is native to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas. White sage (Salvia apiana), also called bee sage or sacred sage, is native to SW United Sates and NW Mexico and is popular for use in smudging.
Sage has many benefits that range from improving mood to beautifying skin and hair. It has nourishing vitamins of B and C, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. It expresses properties that are antibiotic and anti-septic, antibacterial, and anti-fungal.
Sage also contains many bioactive compounds that include quercetin, rosmarinic acid and rutin, that I mentioned when I covered the benefits of lemon balm.
Sage for anxiety and depression
Science research found sage to improve mood and cognitive performance in a double-blind placebo-controlled study of 30 healthy subjects treated with either a placebo or doses of dried sage leaf.
Sage benefits for skin
Benefits of sage, claimed for skin, include relieving acne, athlete’s foot, chaffed skin and eczema and psoriasis symptoms. It helps heal the skin because it is anti-inflammatory.
In most cases, it is the oil extracted from the leaves of sage that is used in lotions and washes for skin benefits. But you can also use fresh leaves in a cup of water, brewed as a tea to treat your skin.
The recipe for skin, using sage leaves, is similar to the sage tea brewed for hair and scalp treatment, see below.
Sage benefits for hair
Benefits of sage for hair include stimulating faster growth through improving circulation to the scalp and nutrients for hair follicles. Apply weekly to add thickness. It is said to intensify and deepen dark hair, so possibly use sage treatments occasionally if you wish to retain fair hair.
For DIY home hair treatments, boil a handful of fresh sage leaves in a cup of water for 2-3 minutes to make a tea. Allow to cool and use this sage tea as a final rinse after your conditioner to add shine and luster.
Another one to treat dandruff: add equal parts of fresh sage and rosemary leaves to a cup of water and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then let this tea steep. Once cool you can use it to treat your scalp before styling your hair by massaging it in.
Sage benefits for menopause
Science indicates that sage can act to reduce symptoms of menopause in postmenopausal women. Researchers showed it helps reduce the severity of hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and cognitive vagueness based on results of a study where subjects were given either a placebo or 100 mg dry extract of sage.
Grow your own sage
Growing your own helps to avoid the over-harvesting of wild reserves of this species, especially there are concerns around white sage. You can grown your own sage for smudging or for cooking or for any of its other benefits I list here.
Sage is easy to grow. It prefers well drained conditions with full sun. Try not to overwater or overcrowd the plant as it is prone to fungal attack. Ensuring air can circulate around the plant will help. It tends to get woody after a few years and it’s best to replace it then if you want more aromatic leaves.
I grow sage in my garden but admit I have lost plants in the past because of a type of fungus that causes it to whither and die. The beauty of growing your own sage is the dollar savings but also the convenience of having it available when you need it.
Grow your own sage for smudging
You can use common sage or white sage for smudging. Apart from sage, rosemary is another herb you can use in smudging.
How to use white sage
Smudging, is how to use white sage, although you could use it for all the other means mentioned for common sage.
It’s the preferred sage for burning. You can use it before meditation if you feel the need to clear the energy in the space. The aromatic smoke from burning of the leaves can also help you to relax into an alpha state.
The leaves of white sage are dried for use in burning and smudging to invite positive vibes. I described how to do this for your home in my article on smudging.
How to use fresh sage
You can use fresh sage several ways. I like picking the fresh tips of the plant and scrunching them in my hand to smell the aroma. I find the fragrance calming.
You can also pick the young leaves and chop them to add to black tea or make tea purely from sage leaves.
Or you can use fresh sage in cooking.
How to use sage in cooking
The many common sage varieties are the types of sage for cooking. Use the leaves of culinary sage, either dried or fresh. Sage goes well in chicken and lamb dishes or as a garnish for pasta dishes. Use it in stuffings and soups.
What goes well with sage? Sage pairs well with other herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano. As well, it offsets onion and garlic. It’s great for flavouring or garnishing asparagus, beans, fatty meats, oily fish, potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, and many more sweet, bitter, sour or savoury foods.
It is a versatile herb not only for personal use but also in the kitchen.
How should sage be used?
You can use sage fresh or dried, depending on what you intend using it for. You can also use sage essential oil.
Sage benefits tea
You can use leaves from common sage grown in your garden or purchased as dried leaves to make tea (I prefer the fresh leaves). It’s an easy tea to make with either fresh or dried leaves.
With washed fresh leaves, pour boiling water over the leaves and let steep for 5 minutes. Once again the culinary varieties are the types of sage used. You could try doing the same with dried leaves, but use a tea leaf ball infuser or similar.
What is sage tea good for?
Sage tea a good way of taking in the benefits of the herb, e.g., for reducing menopausal symptoms, anxiety, and improve cognitive function. Sage has antibacterial properties and so also helps to combat plaque buildup and other oral issues.
Does sage tea get you high?
Sage is considered a stimulant but also helps with improving mood and calmness. It does not give you a ‘high’ as in euphoria, at least no evidence of that exists.
What does sage cure?
In an Elsevier article on the pharmacological properties of sage, researchers report that per Asian and Latin American folk medicine, sage cures disorders such as “seizure, ulcers, gout, rheumatism, inflammation, dizziness, tremor, paralysis, diarrhea, and hyperglycemia.”
Can I eat sage leaves raw?
You can eat sage leaves raw but unlike lemon balm which has mild citrusy flavour, sage eaten raw has a strong taste that you may not appreciate.
Kennedy DO, Pace S, Haskell C, Okello EJ, Milne A, Scholey AB. Effects of cholinesterase inhibiting sage (Salvia officinalis) on mood, anxiety and performance on a psychological stressor battery. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Apr;31(4):845-52. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300907. PMID: 16205785.
Ghorbani, A., & Esmaeilizadeh, M. (2017). Pharmacological properties of Salvia officinalis and its components. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 7(4), 433–440. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.12.014
Dadfar, F., & Bamdad, K. (2019). The effect of Saliva officinalis extract on the menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women: An RCT. International journal of reproductive biomedicine, 17(4), 287–292. https://doi.org/10.18502/ijrm.v17i4.4555