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Sage (Salvia officinalis)


    Family: Lamiaceae, the mint family

    Grow zones: 5-8

    Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a medicinal herb with a long history of use in traditional medicine. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is now cultivated worldwide for its culinary and therapeutic properties. Sage has a distinctive aroma and flavor and is commonly used as a spice in cooking.

    Here are some potential medicinal uses and benefits of sage:

    1. Digestive Health: Sage has been traditionally used to support digestive function. It may help alleviate indigestion, bloating, and stomach cramps. Sage tea or infusion can be consumed to promote healthy digestion and relieve gastrointestinal discomfort.
    2. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Sage contains compounds such as rosmarinic acid and flavonoids, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may help reduce inflammation in the body and potentially provide relief from conditions such as arthritis, sore throat, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
    3. Antioxidant Activity: Sage is rich in antioxidants, including rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid. Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and free radical damage, which are associated with chronic diseases and aging. Consuming sage or sage tea can contribute to overall antioxidant support.
    4. Cognitive Function: Sage has been traditionally associated with improving memory and cognitive function. It contains compounds that may enhance brain health and cognitive abilities. Some studies suggest that sage extract may have a positive impact on memory and attention, particularly in older adults.
    5. Oral Health: Sage has antimicrobial properties and may help promote oral health. It has been used for its ability to reduce oral bacteria, plaque formation, and bad breath. Sage mouthwashes or gargles can be beneficial for oral hygiene.
    6. Menopausal Symptoms: Sage has been used traditionally to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Some studies suggest that sage extracts may help reduce the frequency and intensity of these symptoms.
    7. Sore Throat Relief: Sage tea or gargles can provide relief for sore throats and mouth inflammations. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of sage may help soothe the throat and reduce discomfort.

    Medicinal Effects:

    Anti-inflammatory: Alleviate inflammation throughout the body
    Anti-viral: destroy and inhibit the spread of viral infections
    Antibacterial: destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria  
    Antiseptic (syn. Germicides): Destroys or controls pathogenic bacteria. Used topically  
    Antispasmodic (syn. Spasmolytics; Spasms - reduce): prevents and eases spasms and relieves cramps  
    Aromatic (Essential Oils):
    Cognitive Function and Memory:
    Cough And Cold (Decongestant; Demulcent; Anti-catarrhal; Antitussive):
    Decongestant (Cough & Cold - Congestion):
    Digestive health - General: Supports digestive health by promoting healthy gut bacteria and reducing symptoms of digestive disorders. When taken in various forms, such as in teas or extracts, may help soothe gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. For example: may help alleviate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and improve overall gut function.
    Diuretic (Urine - increase): Increases the secretion and expulsion of urine 
    Emmenagogue (Menstrual; Uterine tonic): stimulates, regulates, and normalizes menstruation
    Oral Health:

    Here are the steps to grow and harvest sage:

    1. Planting:
      • Choose a location that receives full sun. Sage prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
      • Sage can tolerate various soil conditions but prefers well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.
      • You can start sage from seeds, but it’s easier and more common to use nursery-grown seedlings or young plants.
      • Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the sage plant.
      • Place the sage plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.
      • Backfill the hole with soil and gently firm it around the plant.
    2. Watering and Care:
      • Sage is drought-tolerant once established, but it’s important to water it regularly during the first few weeks after planting to help with root establishment.
      • Water the plants deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between watering to prevent overwatering.
      • Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Avoid mulching too close to the stem to prevent moisture-related issues.
      • Sage generally doesn’t require additional fertilization if grown in fertile soil. However, you can apply a balanced organic fertilizer or compost in early spring if needed.
    3. Maintenance:
      • Sage is a low-maintenance herb.
      • Regularly remove any weeds around the sage plants to minimize competition for nutrients.
      • Prune the sage plants lightly after they finish flowering to promote bushier growth and maintain their shape.
      • Sage plants can become woody over time. To keep them productive, you can prune them more severely in early spring, cutting back the woody stems to encourage new growth.
    4. Harvesting:
      • Sage leaves can be harvested once the plants are established and have sufficient foliage.
      • Wait until the plants are at least 8 to 10 inches tall before harvesting.
      • To harvest sage, snip or pinch off individual leaves or stems as needed. You can harvest from the top of the plant, leaving the lower foliage intact.
      • Sage leaves are most flavorful just before the plants flower, so it’s ideal to harvest them at that time.
      • If you want to preserve sage for later use, you can dry the leaves by bundling them and hanging them upside down in a cool, well-ventilated area. Once dry, store the leaves in an airtight container.

    How to use as medicine:

    Sage can be used as medicine in various forms, including as dried leaves, essential oil, or tincture. Here are some common ways to use sage for medicinal purposes:

    1. Sage Tea: One of the simplest ways to use sage as medicine is by making a herbal tea. To prepare sage tea, steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried sage leaves in hot water for about 10 minutes. You can sweeten it with honey or lemon if desired. Sage tea can be consumed up to three times a day for digestive issues, sore throat, or to promote overall wellness.
    2. Sage Inhalation/Essential Oils: Inhalation of sage steam or essential oil vapor can help with respiratory ailments and sinus congestion. Add a few drops of sage essential oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam. Alternatively, you can use a diffuser to disperse the aroma of sage essential oil into the air.
    3. Sage Gargle or Mouth Rinse: For oral health benefits or relief from sore throat, prepare a sage gargle or mouth rinse. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried sage leaves to a cup of hot water and let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, strain, and use it as a gargle or mouth rinse.
    4. Sage Tincture: Sage tincture is an alcohol-based extract of the herb. It can be purchased from herbal stores or made at home by soaking dried sage leaves in alcohol (such as vodka) for several weeks. Sage tincture can be taken orally by diluting a few drops in water or juice. It may be used for digestive issues or to support overall wellness.
    5. Topical Use: Sage essential oil or infused oil can be applied topically for certain conditions. Dilute sage essential oil with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil or almond oil) and apply it to the skin for its anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties. Infused sage oil can be used for massage, to soothe sore muscles, or added to bathwater for relaxation.