Sage is one of the most popular herbs known for its nutritional value and numerous health benefits. Native to the Mediterranean countries, especially Italy and Greece, sage is a perennial, evergreen shrub. It belongs to the family of Lamiaceae and scientifically known as Salvia officinalis.
Sage is also identified by some common names such as common sage, golden sage, garden sage, true sage, kitchen sage and culinary sage. This savory herb is available in fresh or dried form throughout the year. Due to its rich flavor, it is used as a spice for seasoning and as a meat preservative. It has a long history to treat various ailments due to its medicinal properties.
Sage leaves are lance-shaped with prominent veins running throughout and have grayish green color with a silvery bloom covering. The leaves possess a rich load of nutrients such as carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, various vitamins and minerals. Its vitamin content includes vitamin A, C, D, E, K as well as vitamin B complex including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12. Sage is a rich source of minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper.
Medicinal Uses of Sage Leaves
The name of herb, sage is derived from the Latin word ‘salvere’ which means ‘to save’ or ‘to heal’. Sage leaves consist of volatile oil and phytochemicals such as rosmarinic acid, tannin, thujone, camphor, cineole, flavonoids and estrogenic compounds. Sage has been used to for its healing properties to treat a variety of health conditions including sore throat, cold, fever, skin problems, sinusitis, respiratory disorders, digestive problems, menstrual disorders and memory loss. It also plays an important role in strengthening immune system and improving mental function.
- Sage leaves are effective to ease menstrual and menopausal problems due to content of phytoestrogens. These plant compounds function like estrogen. In case of menopause, sage leaves help to reduce hot flashes and night sweats by preventing perspiration and excessive sweating. They are also helpful in relieving insomnia and mood swings associated with menopause. Sage leaves also help to regulate menstrual periods and control excessive bleeding, thus help to get rid of menstrual problems.
- Due to presence of antioxidant vitamin C, sage leaves help to boost immunity and combat various infections. It also reduces the risk of developing cancer. Due to tannin content, sage leaves can be used to treat mouth ulcers, mouth sores, tonsillitis, infected and bleeding gums, sore throat, cold and fever.
- Sage leaves can be effectively used to improve memory and mental functions. They can enhance the functioning of the brain and keep it sharp and alert. Due to presence of cholinesterase inhibitor compounds, sage leaves are helpful to prevent the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sage leaves show carminative effect, means they can prevent the formation of intestinal gas. Being an excellent digestive tonic, consumption of sage can stimulate appetite and improves digestive functions. Sage leaves have been used to cure indigestion, flatulence, intestinal spasms and cramps.
- Sage oil extracted from sage leaves is an excellent remedy to reduce cellulite. It helps to increase blood circulation, enhances breakdown of fat cells and thus, reduces cellulites.
- Sage oil obtained from sage leaves can also be effectively used to promote healthy hair growth and prevent hair loss and premature graying. It also prevents premature aging of skin and improves skin texture.
Precautions and Side Effects
Sage is most likely to be safe, when used in moderate amount. It can be taken orally or applied on the skin for short term. But, if taken in higher doses for longer time, it can cause toxic effects due to its content of a chemical called thujone, which can be poisonous in large quantity. This chemical can lead to seizures and may cause damage to the liver and nervous system. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are recommended not to use sage, as it increases the risk of miscarriage and reduced mother’s milk supply.
In diabetics, use of sage leaves reduces blood sugar levels and may increase the risk of hypoglycemia. So, diabetics should carefully monitor the blood sugar levels, when using sage. Besides, sage leaves can elevate blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.