Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb sage are Garden Sage, Red Sage, Broad-leaved White Sage, Narrow-leaved White Sage, and Salvia salvatrix, Common Sage, Dalmatian Sage, Meadow Sage, Scarlet Sage and True Sage.
The name of the genus, Salvia, is derived from the Latin salvere, to be saved, in reference to the curative properties of the plant, which was in olden times celebrated as a medicinal herb. This name was corrupted popularly to Sauja and Sauge (the French form), in Old English,'Sawge,' which has become our present-day name of Sage. Sage was held to be a major medical herb by the French, because of its anti-bacterial properties. The soft, yet sweet savory flavor of sage (Salvia officinalis L.) along with its wonderful health-promoting properties is held in such high esteem that the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of "Herb of the Year" in 2001.Sage has been held in high regard throughout history both for it culinary and medicinal properties.
There are over 500 varieties of sage, and most are medicinally useful. They grow throughout the tropical and temperate zones and many of them have medicinal and culinary value. The collection of Sage forms an important cottage industry in Dalmatia. During its blooming season, moreover, the bees gather the nectar and genuine Sage honey commands there the highest price, owing to its flavour.
Sage is a shrubby perennial herb of the mint family native to the Mediterranean. Sage with its strongly based root systems grows about a foot or more high, with wiry stems. They are woody at the base and bear oblong leaves. All parts of the plant have a strong, scented odour and a warm, bitter, somewhat astringent taste, due to the volatile oil contained in the tissues. Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. The leaves are set in pairs on the stem and are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long which are softly hairy and glandular. The flowers of the sage are small and two-lipped and they grow in whorls. The flowers are blue, purple or white in color and they blossom in the month of August.
> Sage is found in its natural wild condition from Spain along the Mediterranean coast up to and including the east side of the Adriatic; it grows in profusion on the mountains and hills in Croatia and Dalmatia, and on the islands of Veglia and Cherso in Quarnero Gulf. It is cultivated in Europe, France and Germany.
Sage thrives best in well-drained, nitrogen-rich clay loam, preferably near a wall which will provide a shelter for the plants during harsh winters. The generally tolerated pH range is 4.9 to 8.2.It is best in bright and open sunlight, but the herb will also tolerate a certain amount of light shade.
It is propagated by seed and by cuttings. If it is through seeds, then these would have to be planted in the garden, to a depth of 1 cm (1/2 inch) or less, about 14 days before the last spring frost date. Seedlings will generally arrive in two to three weeks. Seedlings must be thinned to about 0.6 m (2 feet) apart. See the young plants do not suffer from want of water during their first summer, and hoe the rows regularly to induce a bushy growth, nipping off the growing tips if shooting up too tall. Treat the ground with soot and mulch in winter with old manure.
Cuttings may also be taken in the autumn, as soon as the plants have ceased flowering. This is the best method for propagation from a cultivar: cut a sprig of new growth, about 5 cm (2 inches) from the top of the herb. Then remove all the leaves from the bottom, and put the end of the twig in wet sand to root, generally in one to two months. Branches can be layered by bending them over and then anchoring a portion under the soil to promote rooting. This method will produce new roots in about a month’s time. Once the flowers emerge, then one must take care to trim back the plants. This will prevent them from becoming much too woody and unmanageable, which in turn will produce poorer quality sage. They must be replaced every three to four years without fail, and one will then be able to enjoy excellent quality sage.
Sage is also often propagated by layers, in the spring and autumn, the branches of old plants being pegged down on the ground and covered with 1/2 inch of earth. The plant, being like other of the woody-stemmed garden herbs, a 'stem rooter,' each of the stems thus covered will produce quantities of rootlets by just lying in contact with the ground, and can after a time be cut away from the old plant and transplanted to other quarters as a separate plant.
The flowers of the sage are generally in bloom from early to late summer.
Pests and Diseases
The plant is inevitably susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases, and to infestations of slugs and spider mites, and this means that one would have to take care to avoid these infestations at any cost. During the winter the sage can be offered protection by mulching well with leaves or straw.
Though the whole herb is of medicinal and commercial use, the most commonly used part is the leaves.
- A decoction of the leaves and branches provokes the urine, brings down women's courses and expels the dead child.
- It stays bleeding of wounds, and can be used to cleanse foul ulcers or sores.
- They are profitable for pains in the head and joints and they help the falling-sickness, lethargy, lowness of spirits and the palsy.
- The juice taken in warm water helps hoarseness and cough.
- Drank with vinegar, it is good for the plague.
- One of the best remedies for laryngitis, tonsillitis and sore throats.
- It is used to treat colds, fevers, liver trouble, epilepsy, memory loss and many other common ailments.
- Sage is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine to relieve pain after childbirth and regulate menstruation.
- The gargle is useful for bleeding gums and to prevent an excessive flow of saliva.
- It is useful in curing typhoid fever, liver complaints, kidney troubles, haemorrhage from the lungs or stomach, for colds in the head as well as sore throat and quinsy and measles, for pains in the joints, lethargy and palsy.
- Sage is an excellent lotion for ulcers and to heal raw abrasions of the skin or any insect bite.
- Sage has also been used traditionally to treat asthma, while the dried leaves of the herb can be included in herbal smoking mixtures for treating asthma.
- The estrogenic properties of the herb become very useful for treating menopausal problems, especially for night sweats and hot flashes.
- Sage can also stop the flow of breast milk and therefore, it is excellent for weaning.
- Sage possesses potent antioxidant properties, and this proves to be helpful in bringing about a delay in the aging process and in reducing the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Sage helps to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sage has also been used as a beauty aid. It is used sage as a natural hair dye for gray hair, and it still recommended for use in dark hair.
- It has also been popularly used as an application to the scalp, to darken the hair.
- Sage is a common ingredient in tooth-powders.
- Sage can be used to season foods such as gravies, poultry, pickles, stews or soups.
- Commercially, sage can be used to flavor and season foods like soups, and sauces, meats, sausages, pickles, fried chicken, candy, cheeses, chewing gum, baked goods, vermouth or ice cream.
- It is possible to use dried garden sage branches into garlands and herbal wreaths.
Sage was a sacred ceremonial herb of the Romans and was associated with immortality, and was also said to increase mental capacity. The Greek Theophrastus classified sage as a "coronary herbe", because it flushed disease from the body, easing any undue strain on the heart.
Folklore and Myths
There is an old Arab belief that if your sage grows well you will like a long time. During the fourteenth century, three leaves a day were to be eaten to avoid the 'evil aire'. Sage was also a favorite of the Hungarian gypsies; they believed that it attracted good and dispelled evil. Sage is used for Blessing, Cleansing, and Purification and is burned during religious and personal ceremonies. Root workers carry sage in a purple bag to impart Wisdom and give the power of discernment to people who are faced with the need to make decisions in Career, Financial, and Family Matters. Some folk’s burn sage leaves on their altar when praying for Guidance with Life’s Persistent Questions. Others mix it with King Solomon Wisdom Incense or Crown of Success Incense to making Wise Decisions in Career and Business. Sage is said to be a good addition to any Reversing spell and to protect against the Evil Eye.