Sage is one of my all-time favorite herbs to grow and use. Its grounding flavor is perfect in hearty fall dishes. As a medicinal herb, sage benefits are quite impressive.
Nicknamed garden sage, common sage, or culinary sage, Salvia officinalis is a staple in my garden. It’s also an herb I grow indoors and cook with often to support my family’s health and wellness.
When it comes to health benefits, most medicinal plants have more than one area of expertise. And sage is no exception.
Sage is often celebrated for its positive effects on the brain, oral, and digestive health. It also has antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer properties—as noted in this 2019 journal article.
Other notable sage health benefits include:
Sage Benefits On Oral Health
Folk medicine references sage as an effective remedy for oral health and throat ailments. And modern science seems to agree.
A 2015 study found that using a sage herb mouthwash significantly reduced the presence of cavity-causing bacteria in girls ages 11-14.
Researchers also found that sage can be used to help treat fungal infections caused by specific Candida strains, as noted in this 2018 study. Candida often causes oral and vaginal fungal infections.
Sage Herb For Brain Function and Mental Health
Research is beginning to focus on how sage may impact memory and brain function. In 2017, a review published in Neural Regeneration Research stated that sage could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease and other memory problems.
Sage is also beneficial when it comes to treating nerve pain. This study, published in 2019, looked at sage as a treatment for sciatic nerve pain in mice. Researchers found that sage effectively treated the nerve pain based on mechanical, chemical, and thermal sensation tests.
Sage For Digestive Health
Sage benefits on human digestive health haven’t been widely studied. Yet, traditional sage uses include easing diarrhea and relaxing the stomach muscles.
A variety of animal studies exist to back up these claims, including this article published in the International Journal of Biology. According to researchers, sage is a promising treatment for diarrhea in mice.
Sage Herb For Menopause Relief
Although a natural cycle, menopause is no picnic for most women. Luckily, sage is a well-tested natural remedy that can help.
According to this 2019 article published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, sage can soothe hot flashes and extreme sweating due to menopause. Additionally, the study states that fresh-picked sage improves results over dried leaf extracts.
Just another great reason to always have fresh sage growing nearby!
Sage Benefits On Skin
Sage health benefits extend to skincare, as well.
A 2017 study found that sage extract was effective in healing wounds on rats. Additionally, a 2019 article showed that antioxidant-rich sage extract worked well to reduce aging signs due to UV exposure.
As more people look to natural remedies, we’ll likely see further evidence of sage’s benefits on human health and wellness. And that’s something I’m looking forward to!
Sage Herb Uses
Sage is an excellent herb to use for both its culinary and medicinal properties. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Cook with fresh or dried sage. The grounding flavor complements robust, hearty soups and stews, especially during the fall and winter.
- Drink sage tea to help with cold and flu symptoms. Herbalists agree that sage is an excellent herb for relieving sore throats and boosting the immune system. Infuse one tablespoon of dried sage in one cup of just-under-boiling water for 20 minutes. Add a spot of honey and sip until you feel better.
- Use sage in a traditional herbal steam. Sage’s strong aroma is perfect in a warming herbal steam. Add a handful of fresh or dried sage leaves to a heat-safe container. Pour boiling water over the leaves and let the bowl sit for a few moments to cool slightly. Hold your face over the bowl and cover your head (and the bowl) with a towel. Breathe in the steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Herbalists recommend this for clearing chest and nasal congestion.
- Make an herbal mouth rinse by infusing fresh or dried sage with water. Rinse with it twice a day to help heal and prevent mouth sores and cavities.
- Make a sage tincture. Take 2-3 droppers full a day to relieve hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause.
- Make your own deodorant. Sage’s natural drying abilities make it an excellent addition to homemade deodorant. Add sage essential oil or infuse sage herb into the coconut oil before making your deodorant.
- Make an herbal foot soak using sage. Sage has such a grounding, warming aroma perfect for an at-home spa treatment when you are feeling under the weather. Fill a small tub with hot water and add about two ounces of fresh or one ounce of dried sage in a muslin bag. Soak your feet for 20-30 minutes.
Sage uses extend far beyond this list. But, if you are looking to add this herb into your everyday life, these are excellent places to start.
How to Grow Sage
Sage makes a lovely addition to any garden. It will grow easily given the right conditions. Plus, it’s aromatic scent naturally deters “bad” bugs from feasting on nearby fruits and vegetables.
How to Plant Sage
You can start sage from seed. But, they often take up to three weeks to germinate. Grow bigger plants faster by starting with divisions or store-bought sage plants.
To start sage from seed, lightly press seeds into a soil mixture 6-8 weeks before your area’s last frost date. Be sure not to overwater the seeds since sage plants don’t like to sit in water. Keep the soil just moist.
Sage is a hardy plant. You can transplant it outdoors 1-2 weeks before the last frost date for your area.
Sage grows best in full sun and well-draining, sandy soil. If your soil is more of a clay-like consistency, you’ll want to add some compost and sand to help your sage plants grow.
Sage needs plenty of space from other plants since it tends to mature into a bush shape. I would recommend leaving about 24 inches between sage and other plants to give it ample room to grow.
Sage is a superb plant to grow alongside a few of my favorite easy-to-grow vegetables, including tomatoes and carrots. It also grows well next to rosemary.
How to Care for Sage
Given a spot in the garden that meets its needs, sage requires very little attention to grow well. The most important thing to watch for is overwatering. Sage is a drought-tolerant plant, so wait until the soil is dry before watering it.
Many herbs are more flavorful if you pinch off their flower buds before they flower. But sage is an exception. It won’t lose flavor after flowering, which is perfect if you want to attract pollinators to your garden!
The only real pruning sage needs is in the early spring. By cutting the stems back past the woody stems, you’ll be encouraging new, flavorful growth.
How to Harvest Sage
Harvest sage leaves anytime throughout the growing season. During the first year, don’t harvest a large quantity. This allows your plant the time it needs to become established in the garden.
Depending on your plants’ age and health, you may want to plan one or two larger harvests each growing season to encourage new growth.
Drying herbs for later use is simple and a great way to prolong your harvest. You can use a dehydrator, but I prefer to cut whole stems and lightly bunch them together to hang dry.
Hanging them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area will ensure the leaves dry evenly. Once crispy, place the leaves in a sealed container for later use.
Sage Benefits Abound!
Sage is a beautiful herb to know and grow on the homestead. From its robust flavor to its potential health benefits, using sage for cooking and medicine is an excellent way to get well-acquainted with this versatile herb.
How have you used sage before? Which sage health benefits surprised you the most to learn about?