Day 2, Physic garden: Highlight – Sage

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Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, common sage, or culinary sage) is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

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Illustration of Salvia officinalis by Kohle from the book entitled Medicinal Plants.

Sage has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women’s fertility, and more. The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. Salvatrix (sage the savior), and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague. John Gerard author of 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.” 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.

In modern days there has been some studies carried out on humans involving sage. It should be noted that these studies are not widely recognised and more research would need to be done to further their claims. The study involving healthy humans demonstrated improved memory, attention/executive function, alertness and mood following single doses of cholinesterase-inhibiting sage extracts or essential oils. Smaller studies on Alzheimer’s patients demonstrated improved cognitive functioning and behavioral function (Clinical Dementia Rating) following a 16-week administration of a Salvia officinalis alcoholic tincture.  I don’t claim to know much about this subject and would again caution that it looks like more research needs to be done in these areas. 

Illustration of Salvia officinalis by Kohle from the book entitled Medicinal Plants.

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