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What do you know about sage?
Salvia officinalis or Sage plant is a part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), a desert herb native to Southern Europe and Mediterranean region. The Latin word salvere means “to save, to be saved” which tells much about the history and usage of this plant through centuries.
With its distinct aroma and taste (a peppery taste), Sage has been used to flavor food as well. However, it’s a well-known herb, used in medicine (a different species, Salvia miltorrhiza, is popular in Chinese medicine) due to its healing powers. From the leaves of the sage plant, a calming sage tea provides many health benefits, traditionally used as a remedy to treat fevers, colds and sleeping problems, but today, it’s used to treat other medical problems (hair health, brain health, cholesterol, digestion, diabetes and more).
What are the health benefits of Sage tea?
Sage plant has many medical properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial, and it’s a stimulant, diuretic and an expectorant. Sage is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A (in the form of provitamin).
Although researches are still limited, there are studies that show the health benefits of sage plant.
#1 Memory loss and similar ailments of aging
One of the first known benefits of sage plant is treating memory loss and ailments of aging, including Alzheimer’s disease. In 1597, John Gerard, an herbalist, wrote that sage was “singularly good for head and brain and quickeneth the nerves and memory”.
In 2003, researchers from Northumbria University in the UK, found that Spanish sage oil helped healthy adults with memory, and those who had taken the oil had a higher word recall that the other participants.
A small study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2009, revealed that sage might be helpful with cholesterol. For four weeks, volunteers were drinking sage tea, and the results showed that sage has an ability to reduce LDL cholesterol and improve total cholesterol levels.
Sage has powerful antioxidant properties, and in vitro studies showed that it could effectively kill bacteria such as E. coli and treat fungal infections. When ingested as an herbal tea, it can soothe indigestion and dyspepsia. Lastly, it can effectively treat cankers, throat infections and combat gum disease.
#4 Hot flashes
It’s said that sage has an estrogenic effect, and traditionally, it was taken by women to relieve hot flashes during menopause. One study published in the Italian journal Minerva Ginecologica showed that out of 30 women who were treated with sage-leaf extract and alfalfa for three months, 20 reported that hot flashes completely disappeared, while four women reported good improvement.
#5 Excessive sweating
Excessive sweating is associated with hot flashes during menopause, and sage tea is said to stop excessive sweating by inhibiting the secretion of sweat. Although no study confirms the usage of sage tea in this treatment, according to Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, cold sage tea has the most powerful astringent effects. Prepare tea by pouring 1 pint of boiling water over 3 teaspoons of dried or fresh sage leaves. Let it steep for 15 minutes, strain and store in refrigerator. Drink it up to three cups daily.
Sage and its extracts are found to be beneficial for hair in many ways. Sage and apple cider vinegar is used to promote hair growth, to combat hair loss and baldness and dandruff, according to the author of Hair Growth and Disorders, Ulrike Blume-Peytavi. The plant contains sitosterol, a 5-alpha reductase compound, which is used in treating male pattern baldness.
Another way to use sage essential oil is combing it with rosemary and peppermint essential oils: 3 to 4 drops of sage, peppermint and rosemary essential oil (equal amounts) dilute in a tablespoon of olive oil, and massage your scalp. Sage and rosemary oils make your hair shinier, thicker and stronger. Sage encourages hair growth as it improves circulation to the scalp.
#7 Weight loss
Sage tea is recommended as a drink that could boost your metabolism, thus promote weight loss. The thing is that there are no scientific evidence to support the weight loss benefits. However, sage tea improves digestion, and in some ways, proper digestion is important for metabolism and weight balance.
Sage plant contains tannins, compounds that bind proteins together. After you drink tannin-rich beverages (tea or red wine), proteins in your skin bind together, and you feel a drying sensation. Sage tea made from dried leaves will temporarily bind the proteins in your stomach and create a protective barrier for your stomach wall. This way your stomach wall will not be exposed to irritants responsible for diarrhea or upset stomach.
Researchers from the Research Institute of Medicinal Plants in Iran found that sage is effective in treating type 2 Diabetes.
How to use it?
You can find dried sage leaf in health food stores, as well as sage extracts. There is no evidence that sage interacts with medications, it’s in general considered a safe herb, however a certain compound called thujone can increase heart rate and some people may experience dryness or irritation in the mouth. Sage should not be used if you are pregnant or have a fever.
There are 500 species, and although most can be used as medicine, these are the most common varieties:
Clary Sage – mostly used in throat gargle infusions
Three-Lobed Sage – mostly used for making sage tea
Pineapple Sage – used to add flavor to drinks and desserts
Azure Sage – used as herbal panacea
According to the University of Pittsburg, to prepare sage tea you should steep 1 to 3 grams of dried sage in one cup of boiling water. Adults can consume up to 3 cups each day. The amount you need to drink depends on your overall health, weight and age, thus consult your doctor.
Chevallier A. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants . New York, NY: DK Publishing
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. (1986). Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; PMID:15210.
Jacqueline L. Longe (2005). Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, Volume 2;
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director (1996). The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
Wood, Rebecca, (1988). The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press
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