Materia Medica - Sage


Common Garden Sage.JPG

Sage has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, from tea for sore throats and sinus congestion, to traditional savory dishes. More recently there is promising new research on several cancer lines, dementia, and diabetes.

Materia Medica

Latin Binomial: Salvia officinalis 

Common Name(s): Sage, garden sage, common sage, culinary sage

TCM Name: Shenreg

Ayurvedic Name(s): Seesti, Salbia-Sefakuss, Sefakuss

Family: Laminaceae (mint family)

Physical Description of the Plant: Sage is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers.

The Old World type grows to approximately 2 ft (0.61 m) tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can also be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in late spring or summer. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 2.5 in (6.4 cm) long by 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath with many short soft hairs.

Habitat: Sage is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world.

Harvest and Collection:  Leaves can be harvested throughout the year; the plant can be semi-evergreen in protected locations in Zone 5 and warmer.

Parts of the Plant Used: Leaves 

Qualities:  Appetite stimulant and digestive aid, enhances memory, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.

Energetics: Slightly Cool, Astringent

Taste: Bitter, Pungent

Chemical Constituents:  

  • alkaloids

  • carbohydrates - arabinose, galactose, glucose, mannose, xylose, uronic acids and rhamnose.

  • fatty acids

  • flavonoids - chlorogenic acid, ellagic acid, epicatecin, epigallocatechin gallate, quercetin, rosmarinic acid, rutin, and luteolin-7-glucoside

  • glycosidic derivatives (cardiac glycosides, flavonoid glycosides, saponins)

  • phenolic acids - caffeic acid and 3-Caffeoylquinic acid

  • phenolic compounds (coumarins, flavonoids, tannins)

  • poly acetylenes

  • steroids

  • terpenes/terpenoids (monoterpenoids, diterpenoids, triterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids)

  • waxes

The leaves contain bornyl acetate, camphene, camphor, humulene, limonene, and thujone; tannic acid, oleic acid, ursonic acid, ursolic acid, carnosol, carnosic acid, fumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, niacin, nicotinamide, flavones, flavonoids, glycosides, and estrogenic substances. Linalool is the most present phytochemical in the stem; the flowers have the highest level of α-pinene and cineole; the essential oil contains borneol, camphor, caryophyllene, cineole, elemene, humulene, ledene, pinene, and thujone.



  • Antiangiogenic

  • Anticancer

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antimicrobial

  • Antimutagenic

  • Anti-nociceptive

  • Antioxidant

  • Antiproliferative 

  • Antispasmodic

  • Antitumor

  • Carminative

  • Diuretic

  • Emmenagogue

  • Hemostatic

  • Hypoglycemic

  • Hypolipidemic

  • Tonic

Eastern: Increase Qi: enhance immunity. Resolve Phlegm: loose mucousy stools, colds, sinus, stimulate lungs, asthma, coughs. Restore Uterus: scanty delayed menses, cramps, tremors. Aid skin repair: rashes, bruises, ulcers, sores.

Meridians: Heart, Pericardium, Liver

Indications: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, cognitive impairment or dementia, colds and flu, coughs, gingivitis, glossitis (inflamed tongue), heavy periods, hot flashes, laryngitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, stomatitis (generalized mouth inflammation).

Contraindications/Cautions: Not recommended in pregnancy and lactation.

Drug Interactions: May potentiate blood pressure and diabetes medications.


Tincture: 2 -4.5ml per day

Infusion: 20g leaves to 50ml water

Mouthwash: 2 tsp of leaves in 500ml water, bring to boil and let stand covered.  Gargle with hot tea 5-10 mins several times per day

Combinations: Combines well as tea with rosemary, thyme and hyssop for colds and sore throats; with rosemary, bacopa, and gotu-kola for memory enhancement.

Folklore: Sage has been grown for centuries in the Old World for its food and healing properties, and was often described in old herbals as having many miraculous properties. It has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans used it as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, and a styptic. 

Gerard's Herball (1597) states that sage "is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members." It appears in recipes for Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague. In past centuries, it was also used for hair care, insect bites and wasp stings, nervous conditions, mental conditions, oral preparations for inflammation of the mouth, tongue and throat, and also to reduce fevers.

 Flower Essence:  Sage Flower Essence contains the body wisdom of planet Earth. It helps us choose a sage life direction and find our way even in the dark. It is master of the four directions and a healer of opposites. It is an excellent essence to take when we need a spiritual road map. An extremely sacred plant that brings immense clarity to our lives.

Applications: Colds and flu, sweating, delayed menses, drying up mothers milk post nursing, mouth sores, skin rashes bruises, and ulcers.


Vinegar of the Four Thieves


2 TBSP dried Thyme

2 TBSP dried Rosemary

2 TBSP dried Sage

2 TBSP dried Lavender

2 TBSP dried Mint

4-8 cloves of minced garlic (optional)

One 32-ounce bottle of organic Apple Cider Vinegar with “the Mother”


  1. Put all the dried herbs and garlic (if using) into a large glass jar

  2. Pour the Vinegar over the herbs and garlic and seal tightly. The vinegar is strong enough to corrode some metal lids, so consider putting plastic wrap on top before putting the lid on.

  3. Leave in a cool, dark, place for 6-8 weeks, shaking daily if possible.

  4. After 6-8 weeks, strain the herbs out using a small strainer and store tonic in smaller jars for easy use.

Scientific Research

Effect of Salvia officinalis on diabetic patients

Saeed Behradmanesh, Fatemeh Derees, and Mahmoud Rafieian-kopaei

J Renal Inj Prev. 2013; 2(2): 51–54.Published online 2013 Jun 1. doi:  10.12861/jrip.2013.18

PMID: 25340127


Introduction: Herbs are rich sources of natural antioxidants, and are used in traditional medicine for the control and treatment of many diseases. The reducing effect of a large number of these plants on blood glucose has been approved in animal models and clinical studies.

Objectives: This study was therefore, performed to investigate the hypoglycemic effect of Salvia officinalis on blood glucose, Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), lipid profile, liver and kidney function tests.Patients and Methods: A double-blind clinical trial was carried out on 80 type II diabetic patients who had not reached the ideal control of the disease. Patients were randomly divided into two equal groups of case and control. The case group received Salvia officinalis and the control group received placebo tablets three times a day for three months. The fasting blood sugar (FBS) and 2 hours postprandial (2hpp) glucose were checked at the beginning and every 2 weeks, for three months Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), lipid profile, liver and kidney function tests were also measured at the beginning and at the end of trial and compared in two mentioned groups.

Results: The 2hpp blood sugar and cholesterol levels were significantly decreased in Salvia officinalistreated patients compared to control group (p<0.05). There were no significant changes in glycosylated hemoglobin and FBS between the two groups.

Conclusion: Results showed that Salvia officinalis might be beneficial in diabetic patients to reduce 2hpp and cholesterol. However higher doses might be needed to decrease fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin.

Systematic review of clinical trials assessing pharmacological properties of Salvia species on memory, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

Miroddi M1, Navarra MQuattropani MCCalapai FGangemi SCalapai G.

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2014 Jun;20(6):485-95. doi: 10.1111/cns.12270. Epub 2014 Apr 10.


Salvia officinalis L. and Salvia lavandulaefolia L. have a longstanding use as traditional herbal remedies that can enhance memory and improve cognitive functions. Pharmacological actions of S. officinalis and S. lavandulaefolia on healthy subjects and on patients suffering of cognitive decline have been investigated. Aim of this review was to summarize published clinical trials assessing effectiveness and safety of S. officinalis and S. lavandulaefolia in the enhancement of cognitive performance in healthy subjects and neurodegenerative illnesses. Furthermore, to purchase a more complete view on safety of S. officinalis and S. lavandulaefolia, we collected and discussed articles regarding toxicity and adverse reactions. Eight clinical studies investigating on acute effects of S. officinalis on healthy subjects were included in the review. Six studies investigated on the effects of S. officinalis and S. lavandaeluaefolia on cognitive performance in healthy subjects. The two remaining were carried out to study the effects of sage on Azheimer's disease. Our review shows that S. officinalis and S. lavandulaefolia exert beneficial effects by enhancing cognitive performance both in healthy subjects and patients with dementia or cognitive impairment and is safe for this indication. Unfortunately, promising beneficial effects are debased by methodological issues, use of different herbal preparations (extracts, essential oil, use of raw material), lack of details on herbal products used. We believe that sage promising effects need further higher methodological standard clinical trials.

S. officinalis has been studied on several cancerous cell lines, including breast cancer (MCF-7), cervix adeno carcinoma (HeLa), colorectal cancer (HCT-116, HCT15, CO115, HT29), laryngeal carcinoma (Hep-2), lung carcinoma (A549), melanoma (A375, M14, A2058, B16), oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma, human cervical adenocarcinoma, human glioblastoma, chronic myeloid leukemia, prostate carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and small cell lung carcinoma.


Clebsch, Betsy; Carol D. Barner (2003). The New Book of Salvias. Timber Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-88192-560-9.











Mimi Alberu