Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, or common sage) is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times as an ornamental garden plant. The common name “sage” is also used for a number of related and unrelated species.
Cultivars are quite variable in size, leaf and flower color, and foliage pattern, with many variegated leaf types. The Old World type grows to approximately 2 ft (0.61 m) tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can also be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in late spring or summer. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 2.5 in (6.4 cm) long by 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs. Modern cultivars include leaves with purple, rose, cream, and yellow in many variegated combinations.
S. officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snake bites, increasing women’s fertility, and more. Theophrastus wrote about two different sages, a wild undershrub he called sphakos, and a similar cultivated plant he called elelisphakos. Pliny the Elder said the latter plant was called salvia by the Romans, and used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, and for other uses. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages, and during the Carolingian Empire, it was cultivated in monastery gardens. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments—he went back to the Greek root for the name and called it lelifagus.
The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix (sage the savior), and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague. Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic, emmenagogue, and tonic. John Gerard’s Herball(1597) states that sage “is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members.”
What is Sage Essential Oils?
Sage essential oil comes from the steam distilled leaves of the herb sage or Salvia Officinalis. Also known as garden sage, Dalmation sage, true sage, and common sage, this herb gets its name from the Latin word “salvere,” which means “to save,” and is best known for its therapeutic properties.
The plant is native to southern European regions and nations surrounding the Mediterranean sea, particularly Greece and Yugoslavia. Accounts show that the Romans and Greeks had a high regard for sage and even considered it sacred. During the ancient times, sage was used to preserve meat and prevent other foods from spoiling.
According to historical accounts, sage oil was considered good for both the body and mind. Sage essential oil is often compared to clary sage (Salvia sclarea). While they both come from the same evergreen shrub family, they are very different from each other. Both oils have a pale yellow-green color, but sage has a strong, spicy scent, while clary sage has a sweet, nutty aroma. Because sage oil may trigger sensitizations in some, clary sage oil is often used as a substitute to it because of its milder nature.
HOW IT’S MADE
Sage Essential oil is steam distilled. This means that a huge vat is packed full of leaves and steamed. This steam is then cooled quickly and condensed back into a liquid form. The essential oil (EO) is then collected from the top of this liquid. Steam distillation preserves the plant’s healing properties and extracts the oil with nothing but heat and water. Cheap essential oils are extracted with harsh solvents which inevitably get into your skin. Always be sure to buy from companies that only use 100% steam distilled or cold pressed (for citrus) essential oils. Unfortunately, some companies still sell adulterated essential oils. If something smells off with an EO or product, don’t use it! Sage EO is generally clear with a slight yellow tinge. You’ll notice many companies will state the Thujone content of Sage essential oil (anywhere from 20-70%). We’ll get to that subject in a moment, but for common use this number is of little importance when standard precautions are taken.
Composition of Sage Oil
There are several varieties of sage oil, depending on certain factors like geographical location, climate, part of the plant used, and method of extraction.
A predominant component of all types is thujone (about 22 to 61 percent). Thujone has been a subject of debate among many experts because of its negative effect on the nervous system. Research shows that it can cause convulsions and tend to be hallucinogenic. However, when used appropriately and in correct amounts, sage oil does not induce these effects.
Other major constituents found in the essential oil of sage include camphor, 1,8-cineole, and camphene
Uses of Sage Oil
From being used as a treatment for common conditions like digestive problems to being added to skincare and cosmetic products, sage oil has a wide range of functions. Some of them are:
- Treatment for health conditions– Sage oil is primarily used to help relieve digestive problems. It can also be used to help treat respiratory problems, menstrual difficulties, fungal infections, and skin problems.
- Hair conditioner– Sage oil contains beneficial properties that help address dandruff and oily hair. It can also be used as a shampoo because of its cleansing effects.
- Skin moisturizer– The oil of sage is often used to help prevent signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging skin. It is also added to skin care products like anti-mark and anti-spot creams, which help prevent cracks, scars, and other unwanted marks on skin.
- Laxative– It is used to trigger excretion and help relieve constipation.
- Stimulant– In aromatherapy, this oil can is used to stimulate the mind and help address mental fatigue and depression.
- Fragrance– Sage oil is added to soaps, colognes, and perfumes because of its strong, fragrant scent.
- Vapor therapy– Used in vapor therapy by means of a burner or vaporizer, this oil can be used to calm the nerves and help with grief and depression, while quickening the senses and aiding memory.
- Massage oil or in bath – When blended as a very small part of a massage oil, or used very sparingly in the bath, it can help with female sterility as well as menopausal problems while boosting the urinary tract, liver and kidneys, lymphatic system, while relaxing the muscles and sorting out fibrositis as well as torticollis – a stiff neck – as well as trembling and palsy.
- Cream or lotion – Although the risk of too much sage oil must be carefully weighed against the positive effect it can have, it can be used with success to reduce pore size, healing of sores, atonic wounds, psoriasis, dermatitis as well as ulcers.
Health Benefits of Sage oil
1. Antifungal: The presence of camphor and camphene in this essential oil gives it an antifungal property. This oil is capable of inhibiting fungal infections both internally and externally, and gives relief from fungal infections like dysentery, skin diseases, Athlete’s Foot, or dermatitis. This property is one of the causes behind its use in skin care products.
2. Antimicrobial: The components in sage essential oil which give protection against fungal infections also provide protection against microbial infections too. Therefore, you can protect small wounds or cuts from developing irritating or potentially dangerous infections.
3. Antibacterial: This oil is equally useful at countering bacterial infections, since it kills bacteria and inhibits their growth in the body. This property can also be used to heal ailments like bacterial infections in the ears, nose, throat, eyes, genitals, urethra, colon, intestines as well as on the skin and in wounds.
4. Antioxidant: This is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this essential oil and the reason behind its extensive use in anti-aging and skin treatment products. Antioxidants, as the name suggests, act against the oxidants or free radicals in the body, which are the main causes behind aging. These antioxidants slow down aging and prevent symptoms of aging like wrinkles, sagging skin and muscles, reduction in vision and hearing capabilities, malfunctioning of the brain, memory loss, degeneration of tissues, macular degeneration and nervous disorders.
5. Antiseptic: Since it has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties, it serves as an antiseptic for wounds, surgical incisions, post natal injuries, ulcers, and sores.
6. Anti-inflammatory: It reduces inflammations on the skin, inflammations due to fever, and the entry of poisonous material in the blood stream. It also reduces the effects of excessive intoxicants and narcotics, ingestion of excessive salty or spicy food, influence of very hot winds etc. It helps cure inflammations in stomach, intestines and excretory tracts too.
7. Antispasmodic: This property of sage essential oil is useful in treating all problems that arise from spasms, including pain in the stomach, chest and intestines, as well as coughs, convulsions, and cramps.
8. Laxative: It facilitates excretion and eliminates constipation by promoting the discharge of certain fluids, as well as stimulating the intestines.
9. Digestive: It acts as a digestive medicine in case of indigestion by facilitating the decomposition of food by promoting secretion of bile and gastric juices and by inhibiting microbial growth in the digestive system, which interferes with the digestive process.
10. Emenagogue: This essential oil regularizes menstrual cycles and helps to relieve obstructed menses. This oil activates certain hormones, such as estrogen, which helps bring about clear menstruation and gives relief from problems like headaches, nausea, weakness, fatigue, depression, mood swings and other associated symptoms of periods.
11. Disinfectant: The antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties of essential oil of sage make it an effective disinfectant, as it gives sound protection from both internal and external infections.
12. Stimulant: If all the properties of this Essential Oil are to be described with a single term, then ‘Stimulant’ would be the appropriate one. Most of the properties it displays are different expressions of this property. It stimulates the brain, nervous system, liver, spleen, circulatory and excretory systems, thereby activating and optimizing them.
13. Expectorant: It can give you relief from coughs, colds, and infections in your chest and respiratory tracts. It also provides relief from congestion that results from the common cold.
14. Febrifuge: Sage essential oil reduces fevers by fighting infections and reducing inflammation from fevers.
15. Depurative: Sage essential oil speeds up the removal of toxins from the blood through excretion or through sweating and thus purifies the blood, acting as a depurative.
Other Benefits: Sage essential oil helps to manage dermatitis, herpes, psoriasis, sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis, accumulation of phlegm, cerebral palsy, depression, sciatica and lumbago as well as inducing mental stability, alertness.
BLENDS WELL WITH
Bay, bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, cedarwood, chamomile, coriander, cypress, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon balm, lime, mandarin, patchouli, petitgrain, pine, rose, sandalwood, tea tree Oil.
Is Sage Oil Safe?
Sage oil is only dangerous when used in high concentrations. Its thujone content, which is considered hazardous when isolated, does not pose any problem for its users if the oil is used moderately. Among other herbs that contain this chemical compound, sage is considered the most commonly used and safest. However, it is because of thujone that it shouldn’t be used by people with sensitivities or children of all ages.
People who drink alcohol should avoid using sage oil, as it can heighten the intoxication. Pregnant women (the oil can cause uterine contractions) and nursing women (it can slow down breast milk production) should also avoid using it. Because it works as a stimulant, people with epilepsy or hysteria should also avoid using this essential oil.
To check if you are a good candidate to benefit from this essential oil, I suggest consulting a qualified aromatherapy practitioner or physician first.
Oil Specific: Avoid while pregnant
General: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier.