Latin Names—Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulaefolia, Salvia lavandulifolia
Sage was used as a treatment to promote fertility in ancient Egypt. In ancient Greece physicians used a solution of sage and water to stop wounds from bleeding and to clean sores and ulcers.
Sage is used as a fresh herb, as dried leaves, in liquid extracts and sprays. Sage has a pungent, distinctive aroma.
In modern times sage is used in the hope of improving such concerns as:
- mouth and throat inflammation,
- and excessive sweating.
Sage is also used as an ingredient in some dietary supplements for mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal problems.
Some people may use sage to improve mood, or boost memory or mental performance.
Research on Sage Benefits
- Sage has not been well studied as a treatment for sore throat, so there is little scientific evidence to support its use for that ailment.
- Two small studies suggest that sage may improve mood and mental performance in healthy young people and memory and attention in older adults. Results of another small clinical study suggest that a sage extract was better than placebo at enhancing thinking and learning in older adults with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
- Laboratory studies suggest that essential oils from sage may have antimicrobial properties.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- Sage is generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is approved for food use as a spice or seasoning. However, some species of sage contain thujone, which can affect the nervous system.
Extended use or taking large amounts of sage leaf or oil may result in restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures, and kidney damage. It also may lead to wheezing. Ingesting 12 drops or more of the essential oil is considered a toxic dose.
- Drug interactions with sage have not been thoroughly studied.
- Sage can stimulate allergic or hypersensitivity reactions. Skin contact may result in inflammation. Ingesting sage powder or dust may cause breathing difficulties.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Bouaziz M, Yangui T, Sayadi S, et al. Disinfectant properties of essential oils from Salvia officinalis L. cultivated in Tunisia. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2009;47(11):2755–2760.
- Kennedy DO, Pace S, Haskell C, et al. Effects of cholinesterase inhibiting sage (Salvia officinalis) on mood, anxiety and performance on a psychological stressor battery. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006;31(4):845–852.
- Sage. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on May 24, 2010.
- Sage (Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulaefolia, Salvia lavandulifolia). Natural Standard Database Web Site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on April 1, 2010.
- Sage Leaf. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:330–334.
- Scholey AB, Tildesley NTJ, Ballard CG, et al. An extract of Salvia (sage) with anticholinesterase properties improves memory and attention in healthy older volunteers. Psychopharmacology. 2008;198(1):127–139.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: www.ods.od.nih.gov
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Sage Fact Sheet, Created December 2010