The Herb of Immortality

Dear Health Conscious Reader,

You probably know sage as a cooking spice. But it’s too good just to keep in your kitchen and break out only for your Thanksgiving turkey.

Your ancient ancestors prized sage. They thought people who drank sage tea never got old.

They called sage the “herb of immortality.”

In ancient Rome, if you wanted to pick sage you had to have a ceremony. The ancient Aztecs also revered it, and used the leaves to make face paint that marked rank in their society.

Sage can have an incredible influence on your health. Not only can it make breathing problems and headaches go away very quickly, but it has a mental effect.

It tends to be calming and somehow clarifying. You get a mental focus.

If you don’t believe it, just get some sage and try it. You break up sage and breathe it in, and right away you feel like you just woke up from a dream, or you just finished meditating. I feel like I went to the beach and just came back.

It seems to relieve you of whatever is bothering you. Sage is remarkable in that way. And you know, that’s what the Indians used it for. They used it to clarify the mind.

Sage gets its scientific name salvia from the Latin word “salvare,” which means save, or rescue. There are different kinds of sage – almost 900 different types. But the ones used for healing and wellness are garden sage (salvia officinalis) and Spanish sage (salvia lavandulaefolia).

I grow garden sage in my yard here in Florida and it has a distinct, almost intoxicating smell.

The terrific aroma comes from three chemicals. One is camphor, which has a fresh minty-herbal-woody smell. Another is alpha-thujone, which is similar but spicy. And there’s viridiflorol that’s also similar to camphor, but sweeter.

They’re part of the reason why sage is used in so many cosmetics and fragrances. But I like sage because it keeps bugs away from my other plants, and attracts bees and butterflies to help pollinate them.

Sage has some other strong ingredients, like cineole, which is a main component of eucalyptus and tea tree oil. Together with camphor, they give sage its power to break up congestion and help respiration.

And sage oil also appears to have some anti-cancer properties, especially from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, in clinical trials.

Sage is a known memory enhancer, too. In a recent study, they took a group of people and gave them either a placebo or Spanish sage. After only an hour, the sage group had improved performance on memory and attention tasks. They also had reduced mental fatigue and increased alertness that lasted for over four hours.1

You can use sage at home and get all its benefits, from clearer thinking to better sleep, a stronger immune system and even heart protection. Sage is easy to find, and it’s easy to use as often as you like.

1. Make Some Sage Tea: I often prefer tea as a fresh and convenient way to use herbs.

You can use sage leaves in teas to treat headaches, anxiety and tension, insomnia, coughs, indigestion and fever. You can also cool and store your sage tea so you can use it as a wash to treat skin irritations and bites, abrasions, bruises and inflammation.

Sage tea is helpful in another important way. In one study, researchers gave women 300 ml of sage tea twice a day for four weeks. Their HDL (the “good” cholesterol that gets rid of plaque in your arteries) levels went up by 50 percent!2

The same study found that sage tea increases levels of SOD, what I call you body’s “master antioxidant.” It’s 3,500 times more powerful than vitamin C. And after drinking sage tea, SOD activity jumped by more than 30%.

If you have dried sage, boil a teaspoonful brewed in a cup for no more than 2-3 minutes. It should never taste bitter. If it does, the tea was brewed too long, the sage was old or powdered, or you have the wrong sage.

For fresh sage, use a handful of the leaves and stems, and brew for about five minutes, and strain into another cup.

I would stay away from sage tea bags because you don’t know how long the herb has been in the bag. It may have been on a store shelf long enough to lose its medicinal value.

2. Sage Oil Aromatherapy: In a study of garden sage, researchers let people simply smell sage’s essential oil aroma, and they did better on cognitive function, mood and memory tests.3

It has a relaxing, purifying effect. If you struggle to sleep at night because your mind is always racing, the aroma can help clear your head so you can sleep soundly. Some people will even tell you it enhances their dreams.

Organic, essential sage oil is available at many places on the Web, and at your local health food store. You can apply it to your skin, use it in a bath, or let it diffuse into the air in your room.

3. Use Sage In Your Cooking: You can’t overdo sage or it’s all you’ll taste in your food. But it’s very versatile in that you can dry it, freeze it or use it fresh, and it’s still just as good. You can even crush it in your fingers and create a sage rub for chicken and other meats.

The flowers are edible, too. I would say they have a more delicate flavor that the leaves and shoots. You can also toss the parts of the plant onto a charcoal grill to flavor those foods this summer.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

1 Kennedy, D.O., Dodd, F.L., Robertson, B.C., et al, “Monoterpenoid extract of sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) with cholinesterase inhibiting properties improves cognitive performance and mood in healthy adults,” J. Psychopharmacol. Oct. 11, 2010
2 Sá, Carla M., Ramos, Alice A., Azevedo, Marissa F., et al, “Sage Tea Drinking Improves Lipid Profile and Antioxidant Defenses in Humans,” Int. J. Mol. Sci. Sept. 2009;10(9):3937–3950
3 Moss, L, Rouse, M., Wesnes, K.A., et al, “Differential effects of the aromas of Salvia species on memory and mood,” Hum. Psychopharmacol. July 2010;25(5):388-96