Sage, the Protective Herb

Sage (faskomilo or alisfakia in Greek) belongs to the botanical genus salvia whose name is derived from the latin word salvare, which means to save/protect. The name for this herb was self evident since the therapeutic uses of sage in antiquity were so many. Pliny the Elder was the first author known to describe a plant called salvia*
Many plant species belong to genus salvia, approximately 500-700 according to botanists. However the species mainly used for their therapeutic properties in aromatherapy and herbal therapies are salvia officinalis or common sage, salvia fruticosa (trifolia) or Greek sage and salvia sclarea or clary sage.
In June 2005 a two day convention with the topic “The Greek Sage” was organized by the Pan-Hellenic Pharmacy Association. The main effects and uses of sage as reported in the extremely interesting lectures of the convection are listed below (you will find the texts only in Greek at the location but if you are interested I could translate them for you in English):
  • the concoction of sage alleviates toothache and is used for the treatment of wounds and diseases of the stomatic concavity, such as ulitis, stomatitis and pharyngitis,
  • it enhances blood circulation,
  • it is carminative, it promotes bile flow and tones the stomach and the bowels, acting against bloating and digestive disorders (indigestion, loss of appetite, slow digestion, abdominal pain),
  • it has healing, antibacterial, antiseptic, antibiotic and astringent action and the concoction of sage leaves is used externally on wounds and skin diseases,
  • it is anti-inflammatory, suitable to alleviate rheumatic pain,
  • it has disinfectant and expectorant action during colds and flu,
  • it alleviates sore throat and the symptoms of bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis,
  • it strengthens memory, fights sluggishness and there are indications that it could help to control Alzheimer’s symptoms,
  • it reduces sweating, especially during the night,
  • it is used as a uterine stimulant and can help in cases of dysmenorrhea and other menstrual disorders,
  • due to its estrogenic action it is used to help breastfeeding mothers to completely dry up diminished milk flow and to control hot flashes and depressive feelings in menopause,
  • it is a natural diuretic and has fat breaking action so it is suitable to treat cellulite,
  • it is used against neuralgia,
  • frequent shampooing with sage concoction has a tonic effect on hair and combats hair loss and dandruff,
  • it repels insects and parasites.
There are also strong indications that Greek sage can lower arterial blood pressure and blood sugar levels but further research is required in order to establish certain results. Of particular interest is a research published in March of 2010 in the Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences which you can read here and cocludes that “salvia triloba has cytotoxic effect against some cancer lines and it seems likely that these plants may act at various therapeutic levels, but further studies are required to evaluate the practical values of therapeutic application”.
The use of sage should however be moderate, especially when taken internally as a concoction. Most species of sage contain thujone, a substance which can cause poisoning when consumed in excessive amounts. Typical symptoms of sage poisoning are topical skin irritations, intense and prolonged spasms, upper limb stiffness, liver and kidney decay etc. Furthermore sage should be avoided by epileptics, pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children. Persons receiving medication against blood clotting and/or diabetes and those suffering from cardiovascular diseases should use sage with caution and always consult their physician first, because there is always a chance of severe interaction between some common herbal remedies and widely used pharmaceutical preparations*. However, the amounts of sage usually used for cooking are small and safe.
As far as the essential oil of sage is concerned it has high toxicity, it should be used in very small amounts, always diluted in carrier oil and certainly not on persons belonging to the above mentioned “sensitive” groups.

My suggestions:
  • 5 drops in the diffuser or 1-2 drops (diluted in almond oil) in warm bath water to relax and fight off stress,
  • 2 drops in 5 ml almond oil and gently massage the temples, forehead and nape to alleviate headache,
  • 5 drops in 10 ml almond oil and gently massage the abdomen and waist to moderate menstrual pain and menopause symptoms,
  • 20 drops in 100 ml of warm laurel oil and gently massage the head before shampooing in order to strengthen the hair.
To tone and thicken the hair you could also add 20 drops of sage essential oil in 100 ml of your shampoo or obtain a specialized series that contains lemon, sage, teatree and peppermint.

Deodorants with pure essential oil of sage are ideal for controling sweating.

Soap with sage is suitable for a relaxing bath and to control gynaecological problem symptoms and oily skin.

Sage tea bags without caffeine and aromatic sticks for a peaceful evening at home

Sage seeds for your personal herb garden and dried sage leaves or spice to use for the following delicious recipe, in case you can not find fresh branches of course

Recipe: Chicken with Sage

1 chicken cut in portions
5 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions sliced
2 mashed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of white dry wine
1 cup of water
juice from one lemon
sage (4-5 small fresh branches or 1 teaspoon of dried ground spice)
salt & pepper

Use a big saucepan to stir fry in moderate temperature for 5 minutes the onions and cloves in olive oil. Roll the chicken pieces in flour and add them in the saucepan raising the cooking temperature. Season with salt and pepper, turn the chicken pieces so they are slightly browned all around and add the wine. After 1 minute add the water and leave the chicken to boil for about 50 minutes or until it is done and tender. Add the lemon juice and the sage and simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Bon appetit!

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