This perennial shrub grows wild in southern Europe and the Mediterranean area of the world, but is cultivated in many other places as a valued culinary spice. A strongly branched root system produces square, finely hairy sterns which are woody at the base and bear oblong leaves. The floral leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate. The purple, blue or white flowers are two-lipped and grown in whorls.
Medicinal Action and Uses Stimulant, as tringent, tonic and carminative. Has beenused in dyspepsia, but is now mostly employed as a condiment. In the United States, where it is still an official medicine, it is in some repute, especially in the form of an infusion, the principal and most valued application of which is as a wash for the cure of affections of the mouth and as a gargle in inflamed sore throat, being excellent for relaxed throat and tonsils, and also for ulcerated throat. The gargle is useful for bleeding gums and to prevent an excessive flow of saliva.
When a more stimulating effect to the throat is desirable, the gargle may be made of equal quantities of vinegar and water, 1/2 pint of hot malt vinegar being poured on 1 OZ. of leaves, adding 1/2 pint of cold water.
The infusion when made for internal use is termed Sage Tea, and can be made simply by pouring 1 pint of boiling water on to 1 OZ. of the dried herb, the dose being from a wineglassful to half a teacupful, as often as required, but the old-fashioned way of making it is more elaborate and the result is a pleasant drink, cooling in fevers, and also a cleanser and purifier of the blood. Half an ounce of fresh Sage leaves, 1 OZ. of sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, or 1/4 OZ. of grated rind, are infused in a quart of boiling water and strained off after half an hour. (In Jamaica the negroes sweeten Sage Tea with lime-juice instead of lemon.)
Sage Tea or infusion of Sage is a valuable agent in the delirium of fevers and in the nervous excitement frequently accompanying brain and nervous diseases and has considerable reputation as a remedy, given in small and oft-repeated doses. It is highly serviceable as a stimulant tonic in debility of the stomach and nervous system and weakness of digestion generally. It was for this reason that the Chinese valued it, giving it the preference to their own tea. It is considered a useful medicine in typhoid fever and beneficial in biliousness and liver complaints, kidney troubles, haemorrhage from the lungs or stomach, for colds in the head as well as sore throat and quinsy and measles, for pains in the joints, lethargy and palsy. It will check excessive perspiration in phthisis cases, and is useful as an emmenagogue. A cup of the strong infusion will be found good to relieve nervous headache.
The infusion made strong, without the lemons and sugar, is an excellent lotion for ulcers and to heal raw abrasions of the skin. It has also been popularly used as an application to the scalp, to darken the hair.
The fresh leaves, rubbed on the teeth, will cleanse them and strengthen the gums. Sage is a common ingredient in tooth-powders.
The volatile oil is said to be a violent epileptiform convulsant, resembling the essential oils of absinthe and nutmeg. When smelt for some time it is said to cause a sort of intoxication and giddiness. It is sometimes prescribed in doses of 1 to 3 drops, and used for removing heavy collections of mucus from the respiratory organs. It is a useful ingredient in embrocations for rheumatism.
In cases where heat is required, Sage has been considered valuable when applied externally in bags, as a poultice and fomentation.
Sage has a tonic effect upon the female reproductive tract, and is recommended for delayed or scanty menstruation, or lack of periods, menstrual cramps and infertility . Sage has an estrogenic effect, excellent for menopausal problems, especially hot flashes and night sweats. Sage stimulates the uterus, so is useful during childbirth and to expel the placenta. Sage stops the flow of breast milk and it is excellent for weaning.
In Sussex, at one time, to munch Sage leaves on nine consecutive mornings, whilst fasting, was a country cure for ague, and the dried leaves have been smoked in pipes as a remedy for asthma.
In the region where Sage grows wild, its leaves are boiled in vinegar and used as a tonic.
Healing with Sage:
To make sage tea, pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves and steep for 10 minutes. This herb can:
Scientists investigating old wives tales about plant properties find that sage oil could improve your memory.
Sage has been famed for its memory-boosting qualities since the time of the ancient Greeks and, in the 16 th century, herbalist John Gerard wrote that the herb quickeneth the nerves and the memory'. Now the wisdom of the past has been put under the microscope by researchers from the Medical plant Research Centre who tested the recall of 44 healthy adults taking either sage oil or sunflower oil capsules. According to the study, published in the journal pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour, the sage oil group consistently remembered more words than those who had taken the sunflower oil placebo. However, timing and dosage appeared to be critical factors, as recall rose immediately after taking a medium quantity of the oil, but was not the same when tested 20 minutes later, or when the oil was taken in larger or smaller amounts. Sage oil is also being tested to see whether it can help people with Alzheimer's disease, which is usually accompanied by a drop in acetylcholine, one of the brain's chemical messengers. There is some evidence that sage oil may protect this crucial chemical as well as possessing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hormone-like properties that could also be of value in treating Alzheimer's.
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