This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Sage is not your ordinary herb. Like many in the mint family, sage (Salvia officinalis) has a distinct scent and hardiness that allows it to bloom year after year. Sage leaves are grayish-green due to the fine white hairs that cover the leaves. The leaves feel soft, almost velvety and emit a spicy, yet pleasant aroma when bruised.
These leaves have healing properties and can be used for a variety of health concerns.
Sage for Digestion
Along with aiding in the decrease of bacterial overgrowth in the mouth, the antibacterial properties of this multi-faceted herb make it useful in digestive disorders, whether related to food poisoning or an overall imbalance of bacteria. Granted, probiotics are essential when wanting to balance the digestive system, there are times when tougher cases require the support of a natural, potent antibacterial such as sage.
Sage for Cold and Flu
Sage is a cooling, drying herb. This being the case, it is beneficial in situations when there is an excess of catarrh, inflamed mucus membranes leading to production of thick white mucus. When coming down with a cold or flu, catarrh is often one of the symptoms leading to a cough and sore throat or hoarseness. While the anti-catarrhal benefits of sage aid in the reduction of mucus, the anti-inflammatory action reduces sore throat and hoarseness.
Sage for Menopause
Sage also has a part to play in relieving discomfort associated with menopause. Many menopausal women experience profuse sweating and hot flashes. The cooling and drying effects of sage cool the body and reduce perspiration, providing some ease in the life of menopausal women.
Sage for Gums and Mouth
Because the anti-inflammatory action of sage is specific to the mouth and throat, many have found it beneficial in relieving swollen and sore gums associated with gum disease and gingivitis. The antibacterial benefits of sage aid in the reduction of bacterial buildup leading to gum issues.
How to Use Sage
Sage tea is easily accessible in most natural food markets in both pre-packaged and loose forms. If you opt for loose tea, use 1-2 teaspoons in an 8-ounce cup of hot water. My advice is to let the tea steep for no longer than 3-5 minutes. The longer it is steeped, the more acrid it becomes. When steeped just right, it has a pleasant taste.
Sage can also be used topically, either by using the tea as a compress or using the essential oil. If using the essential oil, do not apply it straight to the skin. Essential oils are strong, and in some cases can irritate or burn the skin. Two drops of the essential oil is all that is needed in 5-6 cups of hot water. Take a wool or cotton cloth and dip into the sage water. Squeeze out the excess water and apply the compress to the area of concern until cool. Compresses can be applied to ease profuse sweating, applied to a closed inflamed wound or to your abdomen in cases of digestive upset when you find it difficult to keep anything down.
Lastly, if you haven’t already, go by the spice aisle and pick up some dried sage. It is a wonderful spice to apply to chicken or a hearty vegetable stew. What better way to obtain the benefits of this herb than through food?