Salvia officinalis, Labiateae. This plant is also known as red sage. The leaves are the part of the plant that is used.

The leaves should be gathered shortly before or at the beginning of flowering in spring and early summer. The day should be dry and sunny. They should be dried in the shade in temperatures not above 35 degrees C.

Functions of sage


  • is highly antiseptic, which makes it an excellent remedy for colds, fever, sore throats and in cases of tonsillitis, bronchitis, catarrh and sinusitis. It should be taken when there are signs of an infection. It also has astringent properties that make it useful for reducing phlegm. The herbal infusion can be used as an inhalation and mouthwash. As a mouthwash it can be used for inflamed and bleeding gums, inflamed tongue and generalised mouth inflammation and ulcers.
  • will stimulate the immune system and help to prevent infections and auto-immune problems. It also acts as a tonic to the nervous system and has been used to enhance strength and vitality.
  • is a good digestive remedy as the volatile oils have a relaxant effect on the smooth muscles of the intestines and the bitters stimulate the appetite and assist in cleansing the liver. It stimulates the flow of digestive enzymes and bile, settles the stomach, relieves colic, nausea and liver complaints. The antiseptic properties are also useful in gastrointestinal infections.
  • has a tonic effect on the female reproductive system and is recommended for delayed or scanty menstrual flow. It has estrogenic effects which makes it useful for menopausal problems, especially hot flushes and night sweats.
  • stimulates the uterus, so it is useful in childbirth and to expel the placenta. It stops the flow of breast milk and is excellent for weaning.
  • has powerful antioxidant properties, reducing free radical numbers and thus helping to delay the aging process.

Notes on sage

  • Do not use sage when pregnant or while breast feeding. Small amounts used in cooking are generally safe.
  • Do not take medicinal doses internally if you are an epileptic.
  • In therapeutic amounts it can increase the sedative effects of medications.
  • Do not take if you are hypoglycemic.
  • It is considered safe when it is used as a spice.


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the leaves and allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Mouthwash: put 2 teaspoonsful of the leaves in 1/2 litre (one pint) of water, bring to the boil and let stand, covered for 15 minutes. Gargle with the mouthwash (hot, but not so hot that it burns the mouth) for 10-15 minutes three times per day.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Sage can be grown:

  • from seed sown in the spring, or
  • taking cuttings in the late spring, or
  • by layering older bushes in the winter.

Sage will grow in most soil conditions as long as they are well drained and the plant has full sun. The various cultivars of common sage are generally grown from cuttings or layering as the seeds often do not grow true to the form of the parent plant.


Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.




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