A member of the mint family, sage is native to the Mediterranean.
It has gained popularity as a culinary spice, as well as for its medicinal benefits. Although there are literally hundreds of sage species, white sage, Salvia apiana and Salvia officinalis, or culinary sage, are the most well known.
Large crops of sage were grown in France, due to its popularity as a tea. Many were impressed with French sage tea, but no country as much as China, which was known to trade four pounds of Chinese tea for every pound of French tea (1).
Salvia, sage’s genus name, is derived from salvere, which means “to heal” or “to save” in Latin. For centuries, it was recommended, and even prescribed, for everything from poor digestion to liver support. It was brewed as a tea to gargle for a sore throat and was used topically to help skin conditions such as blemishes, rashes, and scalp issues. There also are tales of it helping with aggressive behavior, stress, and occasional anxiety. In addition, sage commonly is burned to add scent to a room and banish evil spirits and negativity, and as a ritual ceremonial object in smudging.
The salvia species may offer a safe, effective treatment for a variety of concerns.
“In recent decades, with the increase in pharmacological knowledge about the beneficial effects of sage, especially S. officinalis, these herbal medicines with antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging, and antitumor activities have been found to be very effective in the development of novel natural drugs to prevent, control, and treat many minor health problems as well as more serious and complicated diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer” (2).
Sage is available as a fresh herb, essential oil, capsules, and tea. It has been proven safe in normal servings, and is not associated with negative side effects. That said, anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a medical practitioner before using any sage product.