“Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” — Old English proverb
Behind rosemary, sage is my second favorite culinary herb. It inspires light, while its musty scent and flavor both ground and anchor energy while clearing congestion.
A little history
The word sage comes from the Latin salveo, meaning “to heal”, sage has a long and rich history for healing and promoting vitality and longevity. Both Greek and Roman herbalists used the herb in treatment of coughs, colds, sore throats, bronchitis, ulcers and kidney problems. During the 12th and 13th centuries, sage romanced its way into poems and literature, and to this day, it is one of the most recognized and favored of herbs in our gardens and kitchens. What a delightful treat.
The salvia family is large with more than 900 varieties. It grows in every climate from desert to tropical and varies in blossom and leaf color widely. Well, for something to be so pervasive it must have wonderful benefits, right? Right. Now to be clear – not all sage is Salvia. The common sagebrushes filling the foothills around Boise, where I live, are not a member of the Salvia family. As a part of the dead nettle family, Salvia has two lipped blossoms, ranging in colors from deep purples to yellow and whites. Sagebrushes are a member of the Artemisa family which has it’s own medicinal properties but that’s for another blog.
Western nutritional highlights
Nutritionally, sage isn’t a powerhouse of protein and vitamins. It’s the energetic nature of sage that makes it so invaluable. Sage is antibiotic, antifungal, antispasmodic, hypoglycemic, estrogenic and an overall tonic. What does all this mean? Let’s explore these properties while looking at the Eastern energetics of sage.
Sage’s Eastern nutritional energetics and healing properties
Energetically, sage is pungent, bitter, cooling and drying. Sage is slightly astringing. It helps to stabilize and firm up loss of integrity. It relaxes, soothes and restores.
Clears congestion, benefits the sinuses and resolves mucus – Use sage for any sinus congestion, whether caused by allergies or cold. Lung infections, rhinitis, sinusitis, sore throat and fevers.
Stabilizes and astringes excess fluid – Use sage for any leaking or weeping condition anywhere in the body. This could be sinus congestion and runny nose to leucorrhea, excessive sweating, loose mucus stools, excessive vaginal discharge, night sweats excessive menses, IBS and colitis.
Benefits the endocrine system, harmonizes and restores hormone – Want happy hormones? Add sage to your diet. Its estrogenic nature means it regulates the harmonious production of hormone. Besides just estrogen, it regulates and restores the adrenals and pituitary. Sage helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, treats infertility, increases the libido. Its astringing nature means it is great for treating heavy blood flows.
Overall restoring and tonifying – Sage has long been used to build and strengthen the body overall. Studies have even shown that it is effective in helping to manage Alzheimer’s. Use it if you are suffering from Yang deficiency or Yang Collapse.
Strengthens the immune system – Antifungal, and antibiotic sage helps to rally the Wei Qi (immune system) to fend off colds and flus. I use small amounts of sage in tea for children who are very weak to enhance and strengthen them.
Helps regulate the digestive system – Sage can help to stimulate and improve digestion in slow systems or it can be used to help those with chronic diarrhea or loose stools. It aids in the overall transformation of foods into vital substances and helps relieve gas and bloating.
Contraindications for sage?
Nursing mothers should refrain from using sage unless they are wanting to dry up breast milk.
Seven ways to use sage
- Drink it – Add sage into teas – hot or cold – or into mulled wines and ciders during the cooler months. A simple tea recipe calls for pouring 8 oz of boiling water over 8-10 large sage leaves. Steep for 3 minutes. Sage’s flavor is bright and a bit bitter. Use a little honey or add it to a sweeter tea like mint until you adjust to its bold presence.
- Eat it – Roast sage with roots or squash. Use it in salad dressings or add it to pesto. Use it with any meats or fish. Add it to savory desserts or baked goods. Dutch Sage, Apple & Pear Sauce Cake?
- Use it as steams – Drop it into a pan of boiling water to make a clearing steam for your sinuses.
- Add sage to butter – For basting fish or serving over warm grains or pasta.
- Add sage to hummus or a bean pate.
- Use it in arrangements – To purify a ‘sick’ room or to invigorate the energy in the room. Make it into wreaths for the holidays.
- Make up a spritzer – Use rosemary water to spritz your face and scalp.
- Add it to baths – To fight of colds, flu, infection and to stimulate circulation and relieve pain.