+ Family / Subfamily: Lamiaceae / Nepetoideae
+ Genus: Salvia
+ Species: Salvia officinalis
+ Names: sage, common sage, garden sage, true sage, Echter Salbei, Garten-Salbei, Heilsalbei
“Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?”
(“Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?”)
Sage has a distinct herbaceous and somewhat musty smell. It is rich in aromatic compounds and contains, among others, Borneol, Cymene, Eucalyptol and Thujone. The dried herb is used to flavor dishes. Sage leaves (especially the tops) are drunk as a medicinal tea. Sage’s essential oil is both employed medicinally, e.g. in baths, washes, poultices and mouth gargles, as well as in aromatherapy, where it is used for the larynx chakra, for strengthening self esteem, helping self-expression through word and art and keeping malign influences away. Depending on the concentration, 35-100 kg sage herb are need to produce 1 l essential oil through steam distillation. The variety “Extracta” is especially rich in essential oil.
If consumed internally, sage has the following medicinal properties: astringent, appetizing, vasopressor, antiperspirant (sage regulates glands), anticonvulsant, anti-paralytic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, ecbolic, fortifying, haemostatic, inhibitory on the milk glands, helps during menopause, purging, tonic, helps against tooth ache. Besides this, sage acts strongly antibiotic, supports wound healing and regulates menstrual flow and is used externally to treat laryngitis, gingivitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, insect bites, skin ulcers as well as dry skin conditions.
Caution: Sage should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well when suffering from epilepsy or high blood pressure. An overdose can cause nerve damage.
During pregnancy and breast feeding: Sage promotes menstrual flow and decreases milk production. It should hence be avoided during pregnancy and when breast-feeding. This is unless your breasts are painfully swollen due to an excess production of milk. This can happen, especially during the first week after giving birth and when the baby’s need for milk and your breasts’ milk production yet have to become attuned to another. An excess production of milk can lead to galactosis, which may be accompanied by swollen and hardened lymph nodes and even fever. To ease these symptoms, my midwife recommended a cup of sage tea every day, for maximum 3-4 days in a row. It is also helpful when weaning.
Sage in the garden: Sage is an aromatic perennial in the mint family. It is native to the Mediterraneans, but has spread all across Europe. It can grow into a small shrub, getting up to 70 cm tall. It has silvery green leaves that are fleecy to the touch, and bright purple-blue flowers that occur from June to August. They attract bees. Sage is hence grown worldwide as a honey crop, whereby Greece is especially famous for its native sage honey. Legend tells, that Hera hid the infant Zeus on the island Crete and fed it with sage honey. Sage thrives in full sun, on normal, well drained, humus rich, limy soil. Leave ~40 cm between single sage plants. Hardy in zones 4-10.
Harvest the leaves short before flowering. The variety “Extrakta” is especially rich in aromatic oils.
For growing sage from seed see: https://pflanzenkunst.wordpress.com/sowing/benific-herbs/#sage
Magical and spiritual attributions: Jupiter + air herb (also Moon + earth), cleansing, purifying, protecting, stimulating, empowering, grants courage to speak one’s mind, divination via the wind, clairvoyance, Samhain + crone herb
Words were written on sage leaves and exposed to the wind. The words on the leaves that remained were interpreted. The use in divination also points towards the “moon”. Lastly, because of sage’s musty smell and crone associations, Harold Roth sees also “earth” properties in the plant.