Sage: English Herb, Natural Health Promoter and Menopause Marvel

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Despite its popularity in the culinary world particularly in meat stuffings and broth flavourings, Sage is also held in high regard historically, spiritually and medicinally.

Botany and History of the Sage Plant

Sage is also referred to as its Latin name, Salvia Officinalis. It is part of the Lamiaceae family alongside Rosemary, Mint, Basil and Oregano. The Sage plant is native to Southern Europe and can grow up to 2ft tall in optimal conditions of dappled light and minimal moisture. In bloom it produces bright purple flowers. Although, Sage is most commonly cultivated for its leaves. The leaves are distinctive as they are green/grey in colour, some people even describe them as purple leaves. [1][2]

Sage has been used throughout history for its apparent health promoting properties. Its recorded use in health was in 812AD when Charles the Great (Charlemange), King of the Franks ordered fields of Sage to be planted and grown in Germany, where he had invaded. This made Charles great profit, as Sage was a common herb used in medicine at this time[3]. Also noteworthy is how Sage was used spiritually, in the 14th century to protect themselves from witchcraft. Alternatively, in Native American culture burning sage is a symbol of purification and cleansing[4]. Most noteworthy of all is the use of Sage in the “Four Thieves Vinegar” tale. The tale goes, In medieval times Europe was rife with the Bubonic Plague. Four thieves were caught stealing from a house infected with the plague, and yet survived. They were promised no death penalty for their crimes if they revealed what helped them survive. The thieves revealed they had covered their chest in a special vinegar before entering the property. That vinegar was a mixture of herbs including Sage[5]. We now understand the scientific merit of Sage and its healing powers against the plague, as sage is anti-bacterial.

Health Benefits of Sage

Salvia Officinalis claims many health benefits including being an antibacterial, antioxidant, aiding menopausal symptoms, hormone control, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, cold sores and a healthy immune system. One thing is for certain, Sage is a potent and rich source of Vitamin K.[6]

Anti-bacterial and Antioxidants

Sage alongside its not so distant relative Rosemary has been used for many years in oils. This is because they contain a high level of antioxidants that prevent lipid oxidation and rancidity in the oil. Thus, Sage is an example of a natural preservative[7]. The compounds responsible for Sage’s antioxidant activity are Phenolic compounds, flavonoids, rosemarinic and carnosic acids. In one study Sage showed high free radical scavenging activity, which can be hugely beneficial to health.[8]

Aside the Four Thieves Vinegar story, Sage has been used to treat mouth ulcers, sore teeth and throats. Doctors prescribed simply gargling sage leaf or placing it on the infected area[1]. One study showed that Sage significantly decreased dental problems [9].In addition, Sage was measured for its active destruction of 13 bacterial strains, and 6 fungal samples. It was seen to be most affective against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, S. enteritidis, and Shigella sonnei. [10]

Menopause and Hormones

The menopause is a period of time in a Woman’s life where menstruation ceases and they are no longer fertile. This typically begins at 40-55 years. Symptoms of this include sweating, hot flashes, headaches and brittle bones [8]. A significant study conducted in 2011, looked at the use of Sage in reducing “Total Score of the Mean Number of Intensity-rated Hot Flashes”, or “TSIRHF”. In the group treated with sage there was a 50% decrease in TSIRHF by 4 weeks and 64% decrease by 8 weeks of use. [11]

Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory

Sage is well represented in the world of memory and cognitive health. There is no conclusive cause for Alzheimer’s disease at this present time, but it’s thought that the enzyme AChE may be involved in the degradation of brain neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) production. One study showed that the active oils and acids in Sage, contributed to a 46% decline in the activity of AChE[12]. Notably, Sage has been linked to a decrease in dementia, an increase in memory, cognition and alertness. [13]

What is the best way to take Sage?

Typical Food portions of Sage are not high enough to supply the body with enough essential oils to be classified as a medicinal dose. For this to be achieved you may want to try sage leaf tablets, made from Sage Leaf extract.

From the Four Thieves Vinegar to its Culinary Marvels, Sage has an illustrious history, but now it is now time to push for a new future for Sage as a highly valued therapeutic health aid.

  1. PFAF. (2008). Salvia Offcinalis-L.. Available: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Salvia+officinalis.
  2. Botanical Online. (2015). Sage Medicinal Properties. Available: http://www.botanical-online.com/medicinalssalviaofficinalisangles.htm.
  3. Trowbridge, P. . (2008). Sage History. Available: http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/sagehistory.htm.
  4. Mateljan,G. (2016). Sage. Available: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=76.
  5. Wigington, P.. (2013). Four Thieves Vinegar . Available: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/othermagicspells/ss/Four-Thieves-Vinegar.htm.
  6. Therapeutic Research Faculty. (2009). Sage. Available: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-504-sage.aspx?activeingredientid=504&.
  7. Bomgarder,M.. (2014). Extending Shelf Life With Natural Preservatives.C&En. 92 (6), Pg.13-14.
  8. Hamidpour,M. Hamidpour,R. Hamidpour,S. ShahlarimM.. (2014). Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine Impact. 4 (2), Pg. 82-88.
  9.  Kermanshah H, Kamangar SH, Arami S, Mirsalehian A, Kamalineghad M, Karimi M, et al.(2009) In vitro evaluation of antibacterial activity of hydroalcoholic extract of Salvia officinalis and Pimpinella anisum against cariogenic bacteria. Journal of Dentistry Medicine. 13 (2) Pg.149–154.
  10. Bozin,B. Minimca-Dukic,N. SamokJilk,I. Jobin,E.. (2007). Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of rosemary and sage (Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) essential oils..Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry. 55 (19), Pg.7879-7885.
  11. Bommer,S. Klein,P. Suter,A. . (2011). First time proof of sage's tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes.Advances in Therapy. 28 (6), Pg.490-500.
  12. Ferreira,A. Proença C. Serralheiro,ML. Araújo ME.. (2006). The in vitro screening for acetylcholinesterase inhibition and antioxidant activity of medicinal plants from Portugal.. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 108 (1), Pg.31-37.
  13. Tildesley,NT. Kennedy,DO. Perry,EK. Ballard,CG. Wesnes,KA. Scholey, AB. (2005). Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers.. Physiology and Behavior. 83 (5), Pg.699-709.

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