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Salvia officinalis

What is Sage?

Sage, scientifically known as Salvia officinalis, is an aromatic herb commonly used in cooking and traditional medicine. It belongs to the mint family and has gray-green leaves with a distinct earthy, slightly peppery flavor.

Sage is known as a popular culinary herb, yet it has been used as a medicinal plant for hundreds of years. Interestingly, the genus name of the herb (Salvia) is derived from the Latin word "salvere" which means "to save" or "to cure”. Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, Sage is a herb that has popular use for many diseases and ailments from diabetes, menopause symptoms, to Alzheimer’s. It belongs to the mint family, alongside other herbs like oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme. It is also a ritual object in spiritual sage burning. For its medicinal applications, sage herb is available fresh, dried or in oil form. It contains relatively high levels of manganese, calcium, vitamin K and vitamin B6 [i].

What are the health benefits of sage?

Menopause symptoms

Research shows that taking common sage extract for 8-12 weeks improves symptoms of menopause, in particular; hot flashes and night sweats [xii]. The aforementioned action the herb has on cholesterol is also beneficial for menopausal women, as cholesterol levels and lipid panels may become unfavourable at this time [xiii].

Antioxidants and cholesterol management

The herb also contains potent compounds such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, rosmarinic acid, ellagic acid and rutin, which may be attributed to its medicinal and antioxidant properties [ii].

Antioxidants are molecules that help strengthen your body’s defences, neutralising potentially harmful free radicals that are linked to chronic diseases [iii]. The antioxidant actions of sage can lead to many health benefits such as improved brain function and memory [iv] [v]. Studies have shown that drinking 1 cup (240 ml) of sage tea twice daily significantly increased antioxidant defences, whilst also improving levels of cholesterol in subjects [vi]. Several other studies are also in line with this evidence regarding cholesterol levels [vii] [viii].

Brain health and Alzheimer’s

Taking extracts of two different sage species, common sage and Spanish sage, for 4 months seems to improve learning, memory and information processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease [ix] [x]. The mechanism of action has been described as the slowing of the breakdown of the chemical messenger acetylcholine (ACH), which is involved in memory. ACH levels appear to fall in Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, 39 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease consumed either 60 drops (2 ml) of a sage extract supplement or a placebo daily for four months. The subjects provided with the sage extract performed better on tests that measured memory, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities [xi]


In diabetes patients, taking common sage leaf extract three times daily for 3 months has been seen to lower fasting blood sugar and the blood sugar average over a few months (HbA1c)[xiv].

In one study, sage extract reduced blood glucose levels in rats with type 1 diabetes by activating a specific receptor. When this receptor is activated, it can help clear excess free fatty acids in the blood, which may improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin and therefore results in better blood sugar regulation [xv] [xvi].


Possible interactions

Sage may have additive effects to drugs such as anti-diabetes drugs, and therefore increase risk of low blood sugar levels.

Sedative medications and anti-convulsants may also react with sage, as sage may reduce the effectiveness of these medications in the body.


Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Taking sage supplementally during pregnancy is said to be unsafe due to the possibility of thujone, a chemical found in some sage, bringing on menstruation, hence this action could cause a miscarriage. Small amounts of food intake of sage is thought to be safe.

Hormone-sensitive conditions

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids. Sage is usually not recommended in these conditions due to potentially have an oestrogen-like effect in the body.

Low blood pressure

In those currently experiencing high or low blood pressure, whilst taking sage it is recommended that blood pressure is monitored.

Seizure disorders

Sage contains relatively high amounts of thujone, a chemical that can trigger seizures. In those with seizure disorders, it is recommended that sage should not be taken in amounts higher than those typically found in food.

Recommended For

Menopause , Brain Health , Blood Sugar Balance , High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

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