Sage – medicinal herb with a nourishing effect

With around 900 different plants, sage is one of the most species-rich genera in the plant world, but only common sage (Salvia officinalis), also known as garden, kitchen or medicinal sage, is used as a medicinal and spice plant in our home kitchen and herbal pharmacy . The Latin name (salvare = to heal; salvus = to be healthy) refers to the medicinal effects of this herb, which have been known since ancient times. 

Active ingredients in sage

The central active ingredients, which also cause the intense smell of the sage plant at the same time, are the essential oils. Sage has a high content of these (1 to 2.5%), especially

  • Thujon
  • Cineol
  • Borneol

In addition, camphor, tannins and bitter substances, glycosides, acids and an estrogen-acting substance also occur.

The ornamental sage and the meadow sage native to us, on the other hand, do not contain any essential oils.

Medicinal properties of sage

Although the thujone found in sage is a neurotoxin and can cause hallucinations in high doses, sage is a versatile medicinal and spice plant, because thujone is only very slightly soluble in water and therefore only occurs in traces in sage tea.

Sage has various effects:

  • antibacterial
  • antispasmodic
  • analgesic
  • stomachic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • wound closing
  • menstrual regulating
  • blood purifying

Numerous health effects

Sage is a good remedy for  coughingsweating ,  loss of appetite  and stomach and intestinal diseases.

Sage steam baths  also help with oily and impure skin, which is why sage is also a popular skin care product.

Sage  tea has a preventive effect against the risk of infection such as a flu epidemic, it supports the treatment of  diabetes  and is used as a gargle for  inflammation  in the mouth and throat.  Sage candies are also often  used for  sore  throats  and  colds .

Sage during pregnancy and lactation

The effect of sage tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding is controversial. The  tea  can be used without hesitation to gargle with colds.

However, breastfeeding mothers should be aware that sage has a  milk-inhibiting effect  . This can be helpful in cases of excessive milk production or when weaning. However, women with normal milk production should avoid sage tea while breastfeeding.

Sage as a culinary herb

Sage is a popular spice. The fresh sage leaves should be given preference when used in the kitchen, but be carefully dosed because of their strong seasoning power. Sage extends the shelf life of food and strengthens the stomach. Finely chopped, it can be added to all soups, stews and vegetable dishes just before serving.

Tomato dishes, salads and fish, poultry,  potatoes , pizza and various oils, but above all meat dishes such as game, pork, beef and lamb  taste more  aromatic with the addition of sage.

Sage recipe for sage tea

To prepare sage tea, you can pour 1/4 l of hot water over 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh sage leaves and leave to stand for 10 minutes. The sage tea should not be drunk in the long run and not more than 2-3 cups per day, because overdoses can lead to symptoms of poisoning.

Sage tea should be avoided if you are pregnant or have kidney disease  .  For gargling in infections of the throat and pharynx, the effect of sage tea can be enhanced by adding chamomile.

Growing, planting, cutting sage

The Romans brought sage across the Alps to Europe, where it became very popular in monasteries and farm gardens because of its many healing properties.

Sage belongs to the mint family of plants. The woody sage plants, which grow to a height of more than half a meter, have a richly branched rootstock and prefer a dry, sunny location with well-drained soil in the garden. Characteristic of the sage are its felty, coarse, evergreen and somewhat wrinkled leaves. There is an incalculable number of variations of common sage, including variegated forms.

Cut and harvest sage properly

A sage plant can be rejuvenated by offshoots or sinkers, which it trains itself on bent-down branches. Sage should be cut back in spring if possible and only if you want to make the plant smaller. The sage cutting pays off later through more luxuriant growth of the plant.

From June to August, the sage adorns itself with whorls of blue, rarely pink to white flowers that can be used as bee pasture. Sage is only partially hardy, so you should cover it with brushwood during the cold season.

The sage leaves can be harvested all year round, but the plant is at its most nutritious just before flowering. For the winter, the shoot tips can be cut off in bunches and hung up, they remain aromatic for a long time.


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