Sage Salvia officinalis

 In Other


Salvia officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae

Photo © Steven Foster


Sage is a perennial that grows to a height of 3 feet1  with blue-violet blooms in summer.1,2  S. officinalis originated in Southeastern Europe in the area that is now known as Albania and Bosnia.3  Today, it is cultivated in Albania, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.3  Sage leaves are chewed whole; dried and ground into a powder; prepared as a fluid extract, tincture, or essential oil; or pressed fresh for its juice.3

History and Cultural Significance

The genus name Salvia was derived from the Latin word salvere which means to be saved.3  The plant was used by ancient societies in Greece, Egypt and Rome for its healing properties. Traditionally sage was employed to increase fertility, stop bleeding, heal minor skin wounds, treat hoarseness or cough, and improve memory function.3  In India, sage was also used to treat intestinal gas, upset stomach, and infections.3  Historically, sage has been used to promote regularity in a woman’s menstrual cycle and to decrease breast milk production to facilitate weaning.1,2  As a culinary herb, sage’s powerful and intense flavor can be found in Italian dishes and grilled meats.4

The German Commission E approved the use of sage internally for upset stomach and excessive perspiration and externally for inflammation of the nose and throat.3  Sage is also thought to have strong antioxidant properties.1,2  Sage is used as a flavoring for food.1,2,3,4  Sage oil has also been employed as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes.1,3

Modern Research

One study showed that a sage-rhubarb cream may help relieve the pain and swelling that patients experience with cold sores.5

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