Sage (Salvia officinalis)



Sage has many cultivars. This one is our favourite.
Sage has many cultivars. This one is our favourite.


Sage is another of those favorite kitchen herbs that has uses beyond being a tasty additive to meals.

Sage is well known as an antibacterial and is used as a tea and a gargle for sore throats, gum conditions, bad breath…anything that can relate to bacteria in the mouth and throat. It can also be used externally as a wash for skin infections, cuts, and sores.

Now, if you read some superficial texts and articles, you will see that Sage is good for increasing sweat, in others you will see it as being used to decrease sweating. Some will have it as good for increasing mucus production, others for decreasing it.

Confusing, right? This is the fault with the usually sensationalist approach of articles and books that are interested in just grabbing your attention. Even some older books don’t reconcile these points. However, trust yours truly and we’ll try to make sense of it all so that we can use Sage far more effectively.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you may have seen that other herbs have a deeper effect on our bodies and minds that can go some way to explaining inconsistencies. One thing that is clear from a lot of research is that it is the manner in which we use Sage has an effect.

Sage is similar to many other herbs that effect fluids in the body. They promote sweating when taken as a hot tea, decrease it when taken cold. Some will act to make us sweat when taken hot and make us urinate when cold. I won’t go deeply into these effects here. Maybe a full post on them later.

Let’s deal with our digestion before we deal with our minds. Sage has bitter properties and oils. In other posts, I’ve covered how bitters have an amazing range of actions on our bodies, but here we’ll stick with the traditional one. Through it’s bitter action, Sage stimulates the gall bladder to produce and excrete bile. Bile is the stuff that helps break down fats and oils and also stimulate the intestines to get to work and move food stuffs on through and out. This is a very good thing!

So, we can see how Sage is used for a lot of stomach, liver and gall bladder symptoms such as nausea, biliousness, constipation and the like. That one of the many reasons it’s used  on so many meals. Use it and you’re helping your whole digestive tract digest, assimilate and pass food.

.Like all of my favorite herbs, Sage has even deeper effects than this. Sage works on the hypothalamus, you can’t really get much deeper than this. For those who have forgotten their high school biology, this gland pretty well controls all the other glands.

‘Wow! A herb in my kitchen does this’? Yep.

The hypothalamus reads the blood content and adjusts our hormones to make changes that are needed. Several key areas that this gland works on are; body temperature regulation, liquid levels and sex hormones. Sage can then influence these. That’s a big claim, I know, but some of the other uses of Sage will help us understand.

Sage is a normalizer for fluids. Blood, lymph, sweat, milk, urine, all can be balanced using Sage. Think of Sage when you see dry, withered skin, especially during menopause. That is the distinguishing feature of an illness that needs Sage as a remedy.

We mentioned that Sage is good for bile production, and therefore fat and oil digestion. The products of this digestion are called lipids and they influence key hormones like steroids and sex hormones. Better production of lipids means that these hormones are carried and distributed better. These hormones affect the skin and it’s fluid and oil levels.

Can you see where this is heading? Remember that earlier I wrote that Sage can increase or decrease sweating. This is how it does it! Through improving the production and transportation of the hormones needed to do the job. Wow! I’ll write some more later. Sage has complex effects…