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Sage has come a long way over a long period of time. It began its herbal legacy as a repeller of evil spirits and vampires. Modern herbalists claim that sage has more important work to do today.
The botanical name for sage, “salvia” means “to cure” in Latin.
Sage has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes for many centuries in England, France and Germany, being hardy enough to withstand any ordinary winter outside.
In the United States, the leaves are still officially prescribed, as they were formerly in London, but in Europe generally, sage finds itself now neglected by the regular medical practitioner. Domestically it is still widely used.
Among the Ancients and throughout the Middle Ages it was in high repute: ‘Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?’ has a corresponding English proverb: ‘He that would live for aye, Must eat Sage in May.’
Many kinds of sage have been used as substitutes for tea. It is said that the Chinese preferred Sage Tea to their own, at one time bartering for it with the Dutch and giving three times the quantity of their choicest tea in exchange.
Sage as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the fresh leaves and the fresh flowering aerial parts, the dried leaves, and the sage essential oil extracted from the flowers and stems.
Sage is used to relieve excess mucous buildup, is beneficial to the mind by its ability to ease mental exhaustion, sooth nerves, and strengthen concentration.
Sage is approved by Commission E for:
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
- Excessive perspiration
Tea brewed from sage works as an antiseptic mouthwash and a digestive aid.
Folk medicine: In folk medicine, the herb is used internally for gastric disorders such as loss of appetite, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, enteritis, and excessive perspiration. Externally, Sage is used as a rinse and gargle for light injuries and skin inflammation, bleeding gums, stomatitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and for firming the gums.
The formulas for several “generic” folk medicine decoctions and infusions follows.
- Decoction No. 1: One spoonful of powdered herb scalded with 1 cup of water, quickly strained, and sweetened.
- Decoction No. 2: 15 g of the fresh leaves with 200 ml of water heated for 3 minutes.
- Infusion No.1: Scald 20 g dried leaves with 1 liter water, steep for 15 minutes, strain, press, and sweeten if required.
- Infusion No.2: Pour 1 liter boiling water over 50 g herb, strain after 15 minutes and sweeten with honey.
- Diabetes: Prepare a fortified wine made by boiling 100 g of the leaves with one liter wine for 2 minutes. Take 1 glass of the wine preparation after meals.
- Inflammation of the bronchial mucous membranes: An expectorant honey is made by mixing 50 g of the powdered herb with 80 g of honey. Take 1 spoonful of the expectorant in the morning and at bedtime.
- Nervous exhaustion: A fortified wine is manufactured using an 8-day maceration of 100 g of the leaves with one 1 liter of wine. Take 0.25 g of the powdered herb (spoonful or capsules) before meals.
Homeopathic Uses: The most common application in homeopathy is for excessive perspiration.
Sage is used as a gargle in inflamed sore throat, relaxes the throat and tonsils, and is also good for ulcerated throat. The gargle is useful for bleeding gums and to prevent an excessive flow of saliva. Chewing the fresh leaves soothes mouth sores and eases a sore throat.
Sage is good for all stomach troubles, diarrhea, gas, flu and colds.
Sage tea will also soothe mouth sores and sore throats. The fresh leaves, rubbed on the teeth, will cleanse them and strengthen the gums. Sage is a common ingredient in tooth powders.
As a hair rinse, sage removes and treats dandruff. Sage combined with peppermint, rosemary, and wood betony provides an excellent headache remedy. It is used to regulate the menstrual cycle, to decrease milk flow in lactating women, aids in treating hot flashes, and is used as a deodorant.
In a lotion or salve, sage is useful for treating sores and skin eruptions, excessive sweating, and for stopping bleeding in cuts.
The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to cleanse and purify the air. In a carrier oil, it makes an excellent deodorant.
In herbal baths sage is mixed with lavender for stimulation.
The infusion made for internal use is termed Sage Tea, and can be made simply by pouring 1 pint of boiling water on to 1 ounce of the dried herb. The dose is from a wineglassful to half a tea cupful, as often as required.
The old-fashioned way of making it is more pleasant, cools fevers, and also works as a cleanser and purifier of the blood: Half an ounce of fresh Sage leaves, 1 ounce of sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, or 1/4 ounce of grated rind, infused in a quart of boiling water and strained off after half an hour. (In Jamaica they sweeten Sage Tea with lime juice instead of lemon.)
Modern science has found that sage has a tranquilizing effect and may be effective useful against yeast and other infections. Other scientific evidence has found that sage has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties), reduces mucous secretions, increases breast milk production, and has tranquilizing properties. The PDR for Herbal Medicines reported that sage has been approved for loss of appetite, inflammation of the mouth, and excessive perspiration. It also noted that sage has antibacterial, astringent, and other medical properties.
To dry large leaved sage, remove the leaves from the stem and place them in a single layer on top of a sheet of paper towel. To dry short leaved herbs, place the entire stem on the paper towel, let dry, then strip the leaves from the stem.
Herbal Air Freshener I
A spicy fragrance that will over power even such strong odors as onion.
In a large jar, mix all the ingredients well. Cover and let sit, UN-refrigerated, for 3 days. Strain out the herbs and pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle. Use as necessary. Yield: 1 cup.
Herbal Air Freshener II
Place orange peel mixed with sage in small bowls for a nontoxic, totally “green” odor remover.
Culinary Uses of Sage
Italian peasants eat Sage as a preservative of health, and many other country people eat the leaves with bread and butter, than which, it has been said, there is no better and more wholesome way of having it.
Sage and Onion stuffing for ducks, geese and pork enables the stomach to digest the rich food.
Deep fry sprigs and use as a garnish.
It was formerly thought making cheese with sage improved its flavor.
As a tea: a little sage, a little balm, a slice of lemon, a bit of sugar, 1 glass white wine; pour on these 2 quarts of boiling water; cover and drink when thirsty (The New Art of Cookery – 1788 by Richard Brigg.)
Folklore & Magickal Uses
Sage used in healing and money spells. Eating sage is said to bring long life. It is considered bad luck to plant sage in your own garden; you should have a stranger do it for you.
Did You Know? Sage is the November Herb of the Month.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Sage preparations should not be taken during pregnancy.
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