7 Healing Properties of Sage

Salvia officinalis is an herb with multiple uses both for cooking and medicinal, helping relieve and ameliorate common ailments.
7 Healing Properties of Sage
Grecia Morillo

Written and verified by the doctor Grecia Morillo.

Last update: 26 September, 2022

We’ve known about the healing properties of sage for hundreds of years and some people still benefit from them. Are you familiar with them? Whether you don’t know them or just don’t remember them all, stick around and read about them below.

Since the Middle Ages, people have used sage (Salvia officinalis) as a home remedy for various things. This herb is very easy to find and dispose of.

Sage has both purple and white flowers, so it’s easy to recognize. It’s a great decorative element for a “bohemian” or “wild” touch.

The characteristics of sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis Hoffm) is an aromatic plant present in many kitchens around the world. Its uses and applications vary as it’s a condiment, a medicinal plant, and also an ingredient in cosmetic preparations.

It belongs to the same family as mint, oregano, basil, and thyme. It’s native to Mediterranean Europe, where it’s quite common. However, its consumption is now popular worldwide.

People usually drink it as an infusion made of dried leaves to benefit from its health properties. However, there are more potent tablets and liquid extracts available.

The chemical composition of sage is complex and may vary somewhat in the various species. In general, essential oils, flavonoids and terpenes stand out.

The healing properties of sage

Thanks to its interesting and varied composition, the use of sage can improve certain conditions and minor discomforts. The following are the most important ones.

1. Relief of menopausal discomfort

Some changes during this stage of a woman’s life is due to the decrease in estrogen levels. They may manifest as uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating, and vaginal dryness.

Sage can help relieve some of these discomforts, especially hot flashes, and other discomforts of menopause, among others. Some of its main compounds have estrogen-like activity and could bind to certain receptors in the brain and improve these conditions.

2. Dysmenorrhea

In regard to gynecological health, sage is also a plant widely used to reduce some discomfort related to menstruation.

Dysmenorrhea is a type of uterine pain that can appear during a woman’s period or in the days preceding and following it. Its main characteristic is constant pain that may radiate to the legs. There may also be headaches, diarrhea, constipation and back discomfort.

Data from scientific studies reveals that sage may have the following effects:

A woman with period cramps.

3. It can improve oral health

Among the multiple actions of sage are its antibiotic, healing, astringent and analgesic properties. Therefore, you can use it effectively to improve oral problems such as gingivitis.

According to a study, researchers observed that the use of S. officinalis is effective in decreasing the modified gingival index (GI). The use of mouthwash and toothpaste led to the most rapid decrease in GI. However, the mouthwash achieved the greatest decrease in GI.

Similarly, mouthwashes based on this plant have proven to be effective in the elimination of Streptococcus mutans bacteria. This is one of the causes of dental plaque and caries. Thanks to this same activity, it could prove beneficial in case of pharyngitis, angina, sores or mouth ulcers.

4. Blood sugar control

This property of sage is evident in some animal and human studies. It’s a plant with hypoglycemic action which could help lower blood glucose levels.

In fact, this action is well proven along with the improvement in insulin sensitivity. It seems it would have a similar effect to certain diabetes drugs. However, the data doesn’t allow, us to speak of salvia as an alternative treatment, at least for now.

5. Digestive system

Some of the healing properties of sage can improve digestive and stomach disorders: gas, abdominal bloating, lack of appetite, indigestion and stomach pain. However, the scientific evidence in this regard isn’t conclusive.

In contrast, the evidence for raw sage extract to improve diarrhea and spasms has been positive — both at the lab and with living beings. This plant is a great intestinal relaxant which improves stomach pain and eases bowel movements.

6. Antioxidant capacity

Among the many compounds present in Salvia officinalis (and other varieties), antioxidants stand out. The interest of these in relation to health is they can counteract the harmful effects of free radicals, which cause some chronic and degenerative diseases.

Specifically, the available data suggests that sage could have positive effects on high cholesterol, dementia, inflammatory problems or some types of cancer.

A man with stomach discomfort.

7. Memory and brain health

Sage can be a good reinforcement in these two aspects for different reasons. On the one hand, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that act as neuroprotective, as mentioned above.

In addition, it has an active role in the breakdown of acetylcholine. This is a chemical messenger related to memory and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study of patients with mild Alzheimer’s, participants who took a sage extract for four months performed better on tests of memory, problem solving and other cognitive skills.

How to benefit from the properties of sage

The best way to incorporate this plant to your lifestyle is through an infusion of dried leaves. You can find premade individual sachets or dried leaves in bulk.

In both cases, all you have to do is heat a cup of water and add the sachet or a spoonful of dried leaves to it. After five minutes, remove the infusion or strain it (if you’re using dried leaves). You can drink between one and two cups a day, for short periods.

You can also enjoy all the aroma and flavor that sage brings to a large number of dishes. Add fresh or dried leaves to your soups, pasta sauces, omelets, scrambled eggs, and stews.

Like many medicinal plants, sage is available in other forms. The most common are tablets, liquid extracts and essential oils. The active ingredients in these are more concentrated. Thus, purchase these products in reputable stores and always take them under medical supervision.

Other things to take into account regarding the healing properties of sage

Sage is safe when used in moderate amounts. Moreover, it’s effects have been evaluated for periods of four months in higher doses. There were no side effects.

However, some of the species (including Salvia officinalis) have a component that can be harmful: thujone. It’s led to convulsions in animals and humans (after using the essential oil).

Thus, don’t use sage essential oil internally and don’t eat large amounts of this plant or for long periods of time.

You should also know it’s contraindicated in the following:

  • Pregnant or lactating women and young children
  • People undergoing pharmacological therapies with hypoglycemic, anticonvulsants, anticoagulants, sedatives, antihistamines or drugs with estrogenic action
  • Those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure alterations (hypertension and hypotension) or hormone-sensitive conditions (such as breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids)

Consult a doctor before introducing sage beyond its culinary use if you fall into any of the above groups

Benefit from the properties of sage but do so safely and in moderation

As you can see, the healing properties of sage can help improve minor ailments and some health conditions.

However, don’t use this plant as a treatment if you have any of the mentioned problems. In addition, it’s essential to discuss any symptom or doubt related to a disease with a health professional.

Finally, keep in mind that it’s best to maintain good lifestyle habits and introduce sage and other medicinal plants as a supplement for specific occasions.

You can use sage as a condiment for many dishes (pasta, lamb and chicken above all) for a more traditional touch if you wish.

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