More to sage than just turkey dressing

At one time, a sage plant (salvia officinalis) was grown on the grave of a loved one. Some believed the pungent, sweet odour of the sage plant attracted angels to visit the deceased and tend to their needs in the after life. Others say the sage plant on the grave helped the living recall fond memories of the loved one. Pragmatic planters of sage felt that the plant made the cemetery smell better. This is the first medicinal use of sage.

At one time, a sage plant (salvia officinalis) was grown on the grave of a loved one.

Some believed the pungent, sweet odour of the sage plant attracted angels to visit the deceased and tend to their needs in the after life. Others say the sage plant on the grave helped the living recall fond memories of the loved one. Pragmatic planters of sage felt that the plant made the cemetery smell better. This is the first medicinal use of sage.

There is a reason why sage has a long history of being stuffed in turkeys and planted in cemeteries. The sage plant is strongly anti-microbial. Most plants with a strong scent have the ability to destroy germs. Sage has a particular affinity for germs that prefer to settle in the throat.

Last night, my husband’s throat turned red and scratchy. Today, he is drinking hot sage tea with lemon and honey and taking as much Vitamin C as his body can handle. Sage will kill whatever bug causing the irritation. Honey will soothe the uncomfortable dryness and ease the heat in the throat. It is always best to take sage tea at the very first sign of the sore throat. This way the infection will not have a chance to move deeper into the body and put down roots.

Sage is not only useful for sore throats. It is a great tonic for those who feel dried up, withered, and rigid. A couple of cups of sage tea a day for a few weeks will bring moisture back to the skin, make hair shiny and bestow an over all feeling of flexibility. Many complain about the flavour of sage tea. “It tastes like a turkey dinner,” they say. I suggest they add a little honey.

Sage is also useful for curbing the appetite and aids fat metabolism. It is a great, gentle weight loss plant. I combine it with nettles for this purpose. Nettles are high in plant protein and minerals; it helps keep blood sugars balanced. A cup of nettle sage tea in the morning and before bed does wonders for reducing cravings for carbs. One woman drank sage tea over a period of several months told me the tea dissolved fatty deposits called lipomas.

Sage is also for those who either sweat too much or not enough. A cold cup of sage tea cuts down on night sweats, day sweats and sweating in general. A hot cup of sage tea on the other hand will increase or bring on a sweat. It is important not to under estimate the power of a good sweat.

In fevers, sweating brings the temperature of the body down. Hot sage tea can be used for this purpose. Sweating is also an important part of a detox program. Sweat glands like kidney’s release sodium, urea, creatinine, and acids from the body. The urea is toxin produce during protein metabolism. Creatinine is another toxin created through the daily wear and tear of muscles. Sweating regularly makes the skin radiant and gives the kidneys a break. Take a hot cup of sage tea into the sauna and sweat it out!

A poultice of sage leaves eases tired, aching blue veins. It will also bring healing to varicose ulcerations. To make a poultice, pour hot water over a handful of crushed sage leaves. Fold the leaves in cheese cloth. Place the cheese cloth over the dark blue vein or ulcer. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then remove. Do this two to three times a day. Sage poultices are also used successfully on sprains and bruises.

In pregnancy one must take sage tea with caution. It will dry up breast milk. It also contains a chemical call thujone which in the first trimester can cause damage to the foetus’ nervous system.

Sage also needs to be used with care if taking blood thinners. Sage acts on the body in a very similar manner as blood thinners. It will dissolve clots and slow blood clotting time. If taking blood thinners, I recommend staying away from sage tea.

Finally, there is an old English saying, “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” Don’t forget to include sage in garden this summer.

Herbs for Life is written by Abrah Arneson, a local clinical herbalist. It is intended for information purposes only. Readers with a specific medical problem should consult a doctor. For more information, visit Arneson can be reached at

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