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What's growing in your garden? Focus on Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Did you know, sage is antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic, a carminative (reduces flatulence) and anti hidrotic (reduces sweating)?  This makes it a great herb of choice for all types of respiratory and digestive conditions.  It can be beneficial for the female reproductive system and externally for wounds and inflammatory joint and muscular conditions.  In addition, it also contains constituents to help with brain function and emotional balance.



Conditions Sage can benefit


Reproductive system

Sage’s astringent actions from the tannins and anti spasmodic actions from the volatile oils make it for useful for treating heavy and painful periods.  

Tannins also have an anti hidrotic effect by reducing the sweat reflex making it beneficial for reducing menopausal night sweats.   In addition, sage’s oestrogenic components help, regulate the menstrual cycle and can reduce milk production when wanting to stop breast feeding.

The nervine actions of sage help with emotional balance and better cognition which is often affected by hormonal fluctuations.


Respiratory conditions

Sage’s antiseptic actions from the volatile oils and astringent actions from the tannins make it useful as a gargle for upper respiratory conditions such as sore throat, pharyngitis, tonsilitis, uvulitis, glossitis, quinsy and stomatitis. For mouth ulcers and gingivitis you can also rub fresh leaves onto the gums or ulcer.


It is also beneficial for asthma, bronchitis, catarrh. It’s anti hidrotic action make it useful for night sweats from tuberculosis.


Digestive issues

The bitters in sage stimulate digestive activity, the tannins have an astringent effect and the volatile oils are carminative (helps relieve flatulence) and antiseptic.  These actions make it beneficial for gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, indigestion, flatulence, colic and anorexia.


Nervous system conditions

Sage is a general relaxant so is useful when feeling nervous and anxious. Sage’s bitter principles bind to the chloride channel of GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. GABA is a natural defence against stress damage.  Sage also inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) making it useful for cognitive and behavioural symptoms. It can improve mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.  The terpenes and phenolics in sage interact with mechanisms relevant to brain function and improve aspects of cognitive performance such as clear thinking and concentration. In addition, sage can safely aid memory in those with and without Alzheimer’s.


External wounds

Sage’s antiseptic and astringent actions make it useful for treating new cuts and grazes, healing old wounds, eczema and scrofulous conditions.  Apply a few drops of essential oil diluted in a carrier oil or cooled tea to these conditions.


Other external applications

The rosmarinic acid in sage helps control the body’s inflammatory response so as a cream, ointment or oil it can be rubbed into areas with arthritis, rheumatism, neuralgia and myalgia to help reduce pain and inflammation.



Constituents of sage

Volatile oils: thujone, cineol, borneol, camphor.  

Triterpenols, tannins, flavanols, bitter principle (picrosalvin)

Oestrogenic substances - phenolic acids including rosmarinic acid and resin.

High in Vitamin A for healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision.

High in Vitamin C to give resistance against infections.

High in B-complex vitamins especially B6 (pyridoxine) which helps maintain GABA levels in the brain and minimise stress.

High in potassium and calcium with small amounts of sulphur, silicon, phosphorus and sodium.


How to use it

Sage can be used as tea, tincture, syrup, steam inhalation, oil or cream.



Do not use if pregnant or lactating (except if you want to stop milk flow)

Caution with long term use due to the thujone component.  Seek professional guidance.




Sage tea

  • Finely chop 2 tablespoons of fresh sage (or use 1 tablespoon of dried sage)

  • Add to a tea pot, cafetiere or tea infuser

  • Pour over boiling water

  • Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking

  • Add slices of lemon and / or ginger and a teaspoon of honey.



Butternut squash, leek and sage pasta



  • This dish can be made vegan if you use non dairy cream and cheese.

  • Pasta can be replaced with rice or quinoa or no grains at all.



  • 2 cups of 1cm cubed butternut squash

  • 2 leeks sliced

  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped sage or 1tsp of dried sage

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

  • 2 knobs of butter

  • ½ cup double cream or crème fraiche or sour cream

  • ¼ chopped pecans

  • Pasta of choice or you could use cooked rice or quinoa

  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese


  • Melt butter in frying pan and sauté the butternut squash on medium high until cooked and lightly golden

  • Remove butternut squash into a small dish

  • Sauté the leek and when golden add the sage, salt and pepper to taste

  • Add the butternut squash back to the pan and carefully mix into the leek and sage mixture so as not to break it up. 

  • Turn down the heat to low and add the cream just a few minutes before your pasta / grain is ready.

  • Before draining your grain, reserve a cup of cooking water.

  • Add the drained pasta (or rice or quiona) and gently combine.  Add cooking water to get your desired consistency. 

  • Add chopped pecans, and parsley

  • Add grated parmesan if desired

  • Serve immediately

Over to you

Buy a pot of sage and put on your kitchen windowsill to use in cooking or plant some outside.  Consider using more fresh sage in your food by adding it to soups, sauces, salads, dips, vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta, butter and vinegar.  Search online for some sage recipes.

Seek advice from an herbalist for health conditions that may benefit from a therapeutic dose and approach with sage. 


Always seek qualified practitioners and always check with your doctor before taking or using a new herb, supplement or oil.


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