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Herb of the Month - Sage

Much more than a garden herb! Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an aromatic herb from the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is cultivated for its pungent leaves. It is native to Middle East and Mediterranean areas. Sage contains up to 2.5% essential oil, mainly thujone and borneol, causing its strong smell which can be enhanced by rubbing the leaves of the plant. The name Salvia comes from the Latin word ‘salvere’ meaning ‘to be in good health’.

Steeped in tradition

So how was this herb, with such a wonderful name traditionally used?

Sage has a deep history of traditional use. In medieval Europe, Sage was believed to strengthen memory and promote wisdom.  In ancient Egypt it was used to treat stomach ailments and toothache. Through the works of the Romans, Plinius, Dioscorides and Galen its use has been documented for coughs and menstrual irregularities.

In 1555 Hieronymus Bock recorded this summary of sage: “Of all the bushes, there is scarcely a bush like Sage, as it can be used in medicine, for culinary purposes, cellars, for the rich and poor. Sage wine, or the herb boiled in wine, eases pain in the sides, warms the liver and womb, quickens the senses and aids female illnesses.  It helps with colds and flu, not drunk on its own but also by rubbing it into the limbs. A concoction of Sage can be used to clean out the intestines. Sage boiled in water cleans and heals minor wounds and bites and heals scabs. Rubbing teeth with fresh Sage leaves keeps them firm and clean. Sage boiled in wine and used as a gargle soothes sore throats and gullets.”

Modern times

With such an array of historical uses, how do we use sage today?

In Western herbal medicine, Sage is primarily used for excessive perspiration, particularly sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause. To help ease hot flushes drink 2-3 cups of sage tea per day or alternatively you can cool the tea and sip throughout the day.

In addition to this, Sage is used to help ease the symptoms of indigestion and can also calm nervous tension.

Sage tea gargle is also a wonderful remedy for a sore throat.

A place in the kitchen

How about using sage in the kitchen?

Common garden sage has a long history of culinary use. It is best used fresh as whole leaves, or ground up, but they can be easily dried. Sage is perfect for using in traditional chicken stuffing or with other meats, such as pork and sausages. Sage is also used in vinegars and as a garnish for salads, butter and cheese.


Braun & Cohen, Herbs & Natural Supplements Vol 2, 4th ed.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Ghorbani A, Esmaeilizadeh M (2017) Pharmacological properties of Salvia officinalis and its components. J Tradit Complement Med 7: 433–440

Hamidpour, M., Hamidpour, R., Hamidpour, S., & Shahlari, M. (2014). Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 4(2), 82–88.

Online Etymology Dictionary