All plants are our brothers and sisters.
They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.
— Arapaho Proverb
This year, we planted many herbs in our garden. In fact, last count was 26. My familiarity with herbs is mostly culinary and limited to basil, chives, marjoram, oregano, cilantro and parsley. One of my missions this year is to get familiar with these 26 new herbs that I have enthusiastically purchased in order to understand their medicinal and healing potentials. Messages about the healing power of food are everywhere these days. I write about it in the context of real food helping people manage chronic conditions.
I knew when we got our urban garden going, herbs would, in many ways, take center stage. There are many herb and herbalist courses offered online which I have participated in. To be perfectly honest, much of the material covered in those courses was advanced and quite beyond my current understanding of herbs and their applications. It was clear that I needed to start educating myself about this vast field of knowledge from the beginning.
As I write about the different herbs in our garden, my hope is that I commit some of this information to memory or, at least, create a reference for beginning herb enthusiasts.
The information writen here is coalated from a number of sources (listed below) and is intended for reference and information purposes only. Consult a physician before taking or using herbs to treat any condition.
Becasue we have a lovely sage plant growing in our backyard, there is no time like the present to learn more about it.
Sage, or Salvia officinalis, is an aromatic herb which has been in use for thousands of years due to its healing and culinary properties. With over 750 species spread throughout the world, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Native Americans and the Chinese used it as an important ingredient for aromatic teas, healing infusions as well as ‘spiritual spring cleaning’. It contains many nutrients and oils that are being studied in the modern-day to discern its medical use and importance. Modern research shows that it slows the ageing process and it is being tested as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.
Sage is known to be antiseptic, astringent, carminative, antispasmodic, and a systemic antibiotic.
In addition, Sage makes a lovely garden plant that is easy to grow in garden beds and containers alike. Sage flowers are also very good for attracting butterflies and bees to the garden throughout the summer months.
General Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses
(See resources listed below for more detail)
Sage medicinal properties have been expressed for centuries by traditional healers and continue to be researched using modern methods today. A few of the benefits and uses are listed as follows:
Sage contains oils and compounds that give it antiseptic properties. It is commonly used as natural toothpaste to kill bacteria in the mouth. It can also be made as a paste for mouth infections. Some of the sage leaves benefits include its usage as a mouth freshener and a teeth cleanser.
Sage is also used as an astringent for the face, owing to its antioxidant and antiseptic properties.
Sage tea benefits include being able to heal mild cold and cough symptoms. Warm sage tea taken multiple times over the course of the day helps to ease congestion.
It is a well-known fact that sage when taken internally acts as an antiperspirant. It also doubles up as a deodorant or body wash. Owing to these properties, it is also used as a remedy for women who break out into cold sweat due to the onset of menopause. In addition, it can also help with the regulation of menstrual flow in women.
Sage leaf benefits include its antioxidant properties that are key to healthy cell life by preventing damage. Ongoing research is also being conducted to determine how sage supplements can benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Broadleaf Sage, Common Sage, Dalmatian Sage, Garden Sage, Kitchen Sage, Narrow-leaved sage, Sage, Salvia, Sarubia, Spanish sage, Tibbi Adacayi
The plant is toxic in excess or when taken for extended periods, though the toxic dose is very large.
Consuming large quantities of sage can possibly interfere with medications as well. If you have diabetes, heart trouble, or any other major illness, please consult your doctor about consuming sage in concentrated quantities.
“Why should a man die in whose garden grows sage.” ~ Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum
The botanical name for Sage comes from the Latin salvere “to save” because of its numerous beneficial properties. I became interested in sage after reading about the high number of 90-something-year-olds on the Greek Island of Ikaria. Sage grows wild on this island and is consumed in various ways.
Life on Ikaria is said to be slow and punctuated by tea time, local food, plenty of relaxation, minimal stress and plenty of rest. A higher than usual number of men and women live well past Western life expectancy. Perhaps it’s the Mediterranean diet, the slow pace, the time dedicated to savoring life, or perhaps the Faskomilo (sage tea).
Greek Sage Tea, known as “Faskomilo” in Greece (pronounced “fahs KOM ee low”) has been long valued for its health benefits. In today’s world, authentic Greek sage leaves can be ordered from online companies. Various scientific studies have shown that it contains some of the highest antioxidant and medicinal properties in the world.
Although Greek Sage doesn’t grow in North America, other native North American sage grows easily in gardens and has many important ceremonial, medicinal and metaphysical uses.
“Native Americans have harvested smudging plants for thousands of years. The tradition of using Salvias, Artemisias and other native North American plants, as ceremonial smoke or in smudge pots for cleansing and purification continues within the Native North American culture today.” ~ Gabrielle, Shamans Market
Pot method: Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add a small handful of Sage leaves. Cover and allow to steep for approximately 3-7 minutes. Pour through a strainer into your cup.
Infuser method: Bring water to a boil, add a small handful of Sage leaves to the infuser of your choice, pour hot water over the infuser and allow to steep for approximately 5-7 minutes, remove infuser.
Sage can become bitter if allowed to steep to long. Best to start with less steeping and experiment. Sweeten with raw honey.
- McVicar, Jekka. (2010). Grow Herbs: An inspiring guide to growing and using herbs. Dorling Kindersley Limited, London.
- McVicar, Jekka. (2006). Jekka’s Complete Herb Book. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
- Website: ‘The Wisdom of North American Sage’ – Shamans Market
- Website: ‘Sage Benefits & Information’ – HerbWisdom
- Mohsen Hamidpour, Rafie Hamidpour, Soheila Hamidpour, and Mina Shahlari (2014). Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Properties of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Apr-Jun; 4(2): 82–88.
All photographs by Jane Grueber except ‘Tea’ image courtesy of Pexels.com
Featured Image Credit Artisto ~ Original photo by Jane Grueber ~ Manipulations by @Clarityisjustsohip