Sage – Salvia officinalis
Sage, one of my favorite herbs, is such a wonderful and universal plant! There are over 900 species of sage throughout the world! I have included pictures and details of only a few of those species in my gallery pages! To see them, CLICK HERE.
Why is sage one of my favorites? Well, today, it’s because I just realized that sage tea can help relieve my hot flashes! And it tastes pretty good too!
It’s also a pretty neat plant to grow. It likes full sun and well drained soil. Most bugs don’t bother it until later in the summer season when all the bugs are hungry. Culinary sage is a silvery-green color, but other varieties have a wide range of leaf shapes and colors. The ‘Tricolor’ sage is really pretty in a garden surrounded by dark green plants. The yellow will stand out! And you can still use it in your cooking!
As a spice, sage is generally used in stuffings and to season meats. You will most often find it as “Rubbed Sage”. Personally, I like to grow my own, dry it, store it in canning jars, and then only crush it or crumble it when adding it to my dishes. Just remember, sage has a fairly strong woodsy flavor and can be overpowering. So start with a little bit, and increase according to your tastes.
It goes with beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, or whatever you wish. It’s not a good choice with sweet dishes unless added in small amounts. Of course, you can choose to use it where ever you like.
Another popular use is in smudge sticks. A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs tied together with a natural string. This bundle is then lit and made to smolder to create smoke. The smoke is used to purify and cleanse people, objects, and spaces. The herbs can be any combination you like. I would suggest doing a little research to choose the most effective herbs for the purpose of your smudging first. Then make your bundles accordingly.
The most common sage used in smudge sticks is Salvia apiana, or more commonly called: White sage, Californian White Sage, or Bee Sage. It is a native to southern California and grows in the dry scrub of the coastal ranges. It’s a stiff, coarsely branched, and woody shrub that grows to about 5 feet tall. The leaves are densely coated in silvery white hairs and very aromatic.
For centuries shamans and medicine people have used sage as a purifying herb during their rituals and ceremonies. Sage smoke is believed to cleanse and purify the auras of people, as well as spaces and objects. It is also believed to ward off evil spirits and assist in the removal of ghosts.
There are many things a person can do with sage as a medicinal herb!
- Use it as a tea or tonic: (2 or 3, 8 ounce cups per day)
- To relieve excess sweating and night sweats that are associated with menopausal hot flashes. (estrogenic effects)
- To relieve stomach aches, tooth aches, colds, flue, asthma, and sore throats, and mild diarrhea. (Antiseptic and astringent qualities)
- Native American women drank white sage root tea after giving birth to encourage the expulsion of the afterbirth and promote healing. (Hormonal stimulant – estrogenic qualities)
- In Chinese medicine it is a yin tonic helping to both calm and stimulate the nervous system. Helps to alleviate anxiety. (Tonic qualities)
- Make into a poultice:
- To cleanse skin wounds and rashes (Antiseptic)
- Use fresh leaves:
- Smoldered in sweat lodges and saunas:
- To relieve the symptoms of colds and flue
- To purify the aura
- To treat asthma.
- Us it as a tincture in place of the tea:
- Take 2 ml with water twice a day.
The key properties of the sage plant are:
Do NOT take therapeutic doses during pregnancy or if epileptic! It’s always best to consult with your doctor before taking ANY herbal remedy, especially if you are taking prescription medications at the same time!
Sage is a very handy herb to have around! I live in the Kansas City, Missouri area, and I have been growing sage for many years! It seems to be a perennial plant for me. Most of them are biennials or annuals because they originate in areas that are more tropical than we are here. Plant some seeds this coming spring and see what happens in your area! In the gallery, I have included the zones that each variety performs best in. The more southern the zone, the more sun and wind protection you will need to give your plants in a northern garden. I would suggest planting the varieties that are outside of your zone in pots so you can move them indoors when the weather turns cold.
The leaves can be picked at any time. But you will get the best benefit from them if picked in the morning before the plant has had a chance to bloom. I make it a point to never take more than 1/3 of the plant when I harvest leaves. That way I don’t over stress the plant and it can continue to grow. Use sharp scissors when harvesting too. That will create a clean wound that will be easier for the plant to heal. If you just pick, or pinch the plant when you harvest, you risk bruising the parts of the stem that you leave and that can cause insects or diseases to attack the plant. A clean cut will prevent this.
You can also start and grow your sage plant indoors if you prefer! This will give you access to wonderful fresh leaves all year round! And it will help your house smell good too!
Have some fun! Grow a few varieties that you don’t normally see! Just be sure to research the variety you choose because some of them can be toxic to pets and children.
Bryant, Geoff, Tony Rodd, Barbara Segall, R. G. Turner Jr., and Ernie Wasson. The Plant Book; The World of Plants in a Single Volume. 5th ed. Baulkham Hills: James Mills-Hicks, 2001. 811-817. Print.
Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York: DK Pub. ;, 1996. 129-130. Print.
Gottlieb, Bill. New Choices in Natural Healing: Over 1,800 of the Best Self-help Remedies from the World of Alternative Medicine. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale ;, 1995. 218, 509. Print.
“White Sage.” Sensual Animist. 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://sensualanimist.com/2012/03/16/292/>.