Isn’t it funny how old things become new again? Well, the same is true of certain health remedies. Think about it. How many practices or ingredients do you see today that have their roots in tradition?
And herbal medicines are no exception. For instance, the use of sage is a practice dating back to the dawn of civilization, but it’s now a big industry. Consumers in the United States spent almost $7.5 billion on herbal supplements in 2016.1
Sage is a superstar herb and it’s getting a ton of buzz.
Commonly known for its cooking uses, sage is getting more hype for potential health benefits. But is that hype justified? Let’s take a look.
Understanding and Preparing Sage
Sage is a part of the mint family. And it‘s been around for centuries as a medicinal herb, used topically to help treat sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding.2
Now, sage is not just one single type of herb. In fact, there are more than 400 different types.
But when discussing the health benefits of sage, certain types stand out. One is salvia sclarea, also known as clary sage.
Topical sage treatments aren’t really the norm anymore. These days — especially when it comes to sage — you are more likely to see supplements and beauty products with essential oils. Think of essential oils as plant extracts.
Also, sage has been added to teas for a long time in Eastern cultures. This is done for potential health benefits — and sage tea is an incredibly popular tea.
To prepare sage tea, boil some water in pot, then reduce to a simmer. Add fresh or dried sage leaves and allow it to steep. Now, sage tea has a strong, bitter flavor. So some people add orange or lemon slices to enhance the flavor.
One thing to note: There are potential side effects related to overuse of sage, as some species contain thujone — a ketone that can affect the nervous system.
Extended use of sage leaf or oil can lead to issues like:
- Rapid heart rate
- Kidney damage3
As little as 12 drops of the essential oil can cause issues. So, always be mindful of how much sage you consume.
The Science on Sage
The primary nutrients in sage are flavonoids and phenolic acids. However, it is also a great source of vitamin K. Vitamin K has proven benefits for bone health.4 It also has a role in healthy blood coagulation.5
But one of the most promising potential benefits of sage is related to cognitive function.
In one study, involving memory, healthy young people given a dried sage preparation showed an overall memory and mood boost.
Another study showed improved memory in healthy older people who took sage extract.6
Despite these promising results, it’s still far too early to reach any conclusions just yet. The brain is complex, and a lot more research must be conducted on the effects of sage on cognitive function.
Other studies of sage tackle stress and anxiety. For instance, one small study on clary sage oil showed that when inhaled, it elicited feelings of relaxation.7 Another study found that it could help reduce cortisol levels in menopausal women. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone.”8
Other potential applications for sage are being investigated as well. One clinical trial showed that fresh sage leaves could help diminish hot flashes in menopausal women.9
How To Handle Sage
When it comes to health and herbs, sage has a lot going for it. There is some potential, particularly in brain and mood support, for sage to become a major player in the health market.
For now, the best option is to use sage teas and oils as a complement to your regular health regimen. If you plan on upping the amount you take or starting a new supplement, always run it by your doctor first.