Like thyme, sage is a powerful herb. It is native to the Mediterranean. The Latin name for sage is “salvia” which means to save, but it is derived from salvere, which means “to be well”… Sage saves many a dinner with it’s culinary flavors and throughout history -and makes many sore throats well with it’s antibacterial and healing properties, particularly for respiratory health. Sage is marvelously simple to grow from seed or cuttings, and tolerates warm sunny climates very well, but cool ones too. It prefers dry soil. In our garden, sage has done well even into winter, but the leaves will get frost bite in extreme cold and shrivel up. It is also deer resistant, unless the deer are very very hungry.
Sage has a pleasant earthy scent that pairs well with Thanksgiving but the uses of sage far outweigh it’s popularity as a flavor for stuffing ingredient at Thanksgiving, just look!
Healthy Benefits of Sage
- Soothes and Relieves Sore Throats Research has shown that throat sprays made of sage and echinacea are as effective at relieving sore throats as commercial medication with anesthetic ingredients.
- Relieves hot flashes Associated with Menopausal Symptoms Sage has been used since ancient times to effectively treat hot flashes. It has been licensed in Germany, and has also been used effectively in England, to treat night sweats. A Scottish survey showed that sage tea or sage tincture reduced these symptoms by 85%, over a three month period. A study was conducted of 71 women in Switzerland found that in women experiencing 5 or more hot flashes a day. The treatment consisted of a daily sage capsule over a period of 8 weeks. There was a 50% decrease in hot flashes in 4 weeks and a 64% reduction in symptoms by the eighth week.
- May Benefit Asthma Sufferers Sage has antispasmodic properties that can help relieve spasms in the respiratory tract. In Greece wild sage is brewed into a respiratory tea.
- Sage is a Food Preservative Ancient Romans and Greeks used sage to preserve meats, a tradition practiced until the beginning of refrigeration. Sage has many powerful antioxidants which lends itself well to food preservation. The ability of sage to protect oils from oxidation is why some companies are experimenting with sage as a natural antioxidant additive to extend the shelf life of cooking oils and help avoid rancidity.
- Sage is a Memory Enhancer Similar to rosemary, sage improves brain function. Sage has been used in cerebrovascular disease for over one thousand years and research has shown that certain varieties of sage contain active compounds similar to those developed into modern drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are many applications in the home for sage, from the soothing to the savory. A few years ago, I was at the Weston A Price Conference in San Fransisco and I met an olive oil merchant who sold me dried wild Greek sage leaves, collected from the country side, with the anecdote that they are very good steeped in a tea sipped for respiratory issues and sore throats – and this before we ever began to research the qualities of sage!
Herbal Cough Syrup*
- 3-4 teaspoons fresh or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried echinacea leaf, flower or root
- 1-1/2-2 teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried licorice root
- 2 heaping teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried marshmallow root
- 3-4 teaspoons fresh or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried orange peel
- 1-1/2 -2 teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoons dried sage leaf
- 3-4 teaspoons fresh or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme herb
- 5 cups purified water
- 1/2 cup raw honey or more to taste
- vitamin C powder
Dried herbs will work fine, but I prefer to work with fresh ones whenever possible. Pulse herbs in a blender to crush them and release the essential oils. Simmer echinacea, marshmallow licorice and orange peel in the water (uncovered) for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, add sage and thyme. Steep for an additional 20 minutes. Drain the herbs. They are great for the compost pile.
Return liquid to sauce pan and simmer until it is reduced to approximately one cup.
Let the temperature cool until it is warm and add honey and one half teaspoon vitamin C powder – the vitamin C will help it store. Stir it. Taste it. You may add more but you don’t want it to be too sweet.
Place in dark colored bottle. Store in refrigerator.
This syrup coats the throat and is helpful for persistent coughs. Take one teaspoon two to three times daily as needed.
*The recipe has been adapted from the book Grow It, Heal It by Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner
The following is an excerpt from Dr. Mindy A Curry’s blog, which offers the following remedy for oral disorders such as absecess and ulcers. It is based on a based on a sage infusion. You can find out more on sage from her blog post Saved By Sage.
Oral Care Tea
“Sage is a well-known, old-fashioned antiseptic remedy for disorders affecting the mouth and throat including dental abscesses, infected gums, mouth ulcers, sore/bleeding gums, loose teeth, cold sores, sore throat, and tonsil/larynx infections. Sage tea can be used as a mouthwash or gargle due to its antiseptic and astringent properties. It is known to provide great relief for raw, painful and irritating conditions of the mouth and throat.”
- 8 tsp. of dry or fresh sage leaves
- 1 qt. of filtered water
Boil water. Adde sage leaves. Soak and let steep covered for 45 minutes. Strain the infusion, add raw honey if desired and drink in 8 oz servings, repeating every few hours as needed.
Sage is versatile -from perking up your meals, to fighting forgetfulness and reducing the discomfort of an irritated throat. There are more ways to use it than can be listed in one blog post. Europeans love sage, check out 45 Things To Do With Fresh Sage from Chocolate and Zucchini. If you’re a purist, then you may just wish to fry up a batch of sage leaves and eat it las a snack (or sprinkle it on homemade popcorn). To have fresh sage continuously on hand continuously, you can simply grow it in your own backyard victory garden.