Sage is a silvery-green shrub with very fragrant leaves. The most commonly cultivated species of sage originally came from the area around the Mediterranean but now also grows in North America. The leaves of this common kitchen herb are used in medicine as well as in cooking.
Health benefits of sage
Sage has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. It was used by herbalists externally to treat sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding.2 Internally, a tea made from sage leaves has had a long history of use to treat sore throats and coughs—often used as a gargle. It was also used by herbalists for rheumatism, excessive menstrual bleeding, and to dry up a mother’s milk when nursing was stopped. It was particularly noted for strengthening the nervous system, improving memory, and sharpening the senses
How to make sage tea
For treatment of sore throats, inflammation in the mouth, or gingivitis
3 grams of the chopped leaf can be added to 150 ml of boiling water and strained after 10 minutes. This is then used as a mouthwash or gargle several times daily.
Alternatively, one may use 5 ml of fluid extract diluted in one glass of water, several times daily. For internal use, the same tea preparation described above may be taken three times per day.
Sage tea side-effects
Concern has been expressed about the internal use of sage due to the presence of thujone. Even when consumed in small amounts for long periods of time, thujone may cause increased heart rate and mental confusion. Very high amounts (several times greater than one receives if taking sage as instructed above), may lead to convulsions. If one takes sage internally, it is best to limit use to the recommended amounts and to periods of no more than one to two weeks. Extracts of sage made with alcohol are likely to be higher in thujone than those made with water. Sage oil should never be consumed without being first diluted in water. Sage should not be used internally during pregnancy. These concerns do not extend to the use of sage as a gargle or mouth rinse. Sage should be avoided when fever is present.