When you spoon onto your plate a helping of fresh Thanksgiving stuffing or slice into a sizzling breakfast sausage, you’re greeted by a familiar scent. Slightly minty with an earthy tone, the flavor convinces you what you’re smelling is sage. Sage is a traditional herb widely used in European and Middle Eastern cooking, but it has a wide variety of other applications as well.
Fresh herbs are well known for their ability to transform culinary creations, but their dried counterparts are quite powerful as well. The essential oil found in sage also plays a role in many medicinal and cosmetic applications. Sage is a popular fragrance for use in aromatherapy as well.
What is Sage?
A perennial evergreen shrub known by the scientific name Salvia officinalis, sage is a member of the mint family Lamiaeceae. Native to the Mediterranean region, sage has gray-green leaves, woody stems, and blue to purple flowers. Though native to the areas around the Mediterranean Sea, the herb has been naturalized throughout the world and has a long history of medicinal and culinary use.
Common sage was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and it has been used for centuries in food and for its healing properties. In ancient times, sage was used to ward off evil, to increase fertility, and to treat snakebites. It was also used in religious rituals by the ancient Romans who referred to it as a holy herb. Even today, sage continues to play a role in spiritual practices, particularly in smudging.
Smudging is a spiritual practice used to dispel negative energy and to purify a space. It involves the burning of sacred herbs and resins, originally practiced by various peoples indigenous to the Americas. In recent years, smudging has been appropriated by New Age and Neopagan groups.
The Medicinal Benefits of Sage
Sage is a staple in cuisines around the world, known for its earthy flavor and strong aroma. Though typically used in small amounts, this herb is a key component of traditional dishes like Thanksgiving stuffing and Lincolnshire sausages. Sage is rich in vitamin K and contains small amounts of zinc, magnesium, copper and certain vitamins like A, C, and E.
When it comes to the medicinal benefits of sage, you’re really talking about sage essential oil. Distilled from the sage leaf, sage essential oil contains medicinal compounds like borneol, camphor, and cineole. This essential oil has been known to exhibit stimulating, clarifying, balancing, uplifting, soothing, and memory enhancing benefits. Applied topically, it may also help relieve dryness, irritation, and abrasions.
Here are some of the medicinal benefits of sage:
- It contains over 160 different polyphenols which provide antioxidant benefits in the body, neutralizing potentially harmful free radicals.
- Sage has natural antimicrobial effects which may help neutralize microbes and support oral health by treating infections, dental abscesses, and mouth ulcers.
- It may help reduce menopause symptoms such as sweating and irritability by offering estrogen-like properties, binding to certain receptors in the brain.
- Sage may help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in ways similar to anti-diabetes drugs like rosiglitazone.
- Its antioxidant content may help support brain health and function – it may also stop the breakdown of acetylcholine (ACH) which plays a role in memory.
- Sage may help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol while raising HDL or “good” cholesterol levels when used for at least 2 weeks.
- It may help inhibit the growth and spread of certain types of cancer including mouth, colon, liver, cervix, breast, skin, and kidney cancers.
- Sage may have digestive benefits, soothing upset and relaxing the gut to relieve diarrhea and digestive other complaints.
Though there are limited scientific studies to support some of these specific medicinal benefits, the alternative medicine community recognizes sage essential oil for its ability to stimulate and clarify the mind. It has been shown to boost attentiveness, enhance memory, and relieve negative mood as well.
How to Enjoy Sage at Home
Sage is an ornamental and medicinal herb with a variety of applications. Enjoy the fresh herb in classic Italian dishes like saltimbocca or inhale its soothing fragrance through aromatherapy. If you want to experience the benefits of sage essential oil using aromatherapy applications, LAFCO can help.
Here are some of the top LAFCO products featuring the scent of sage:
- Classic Vetiver Sage Candle – This classic 6.5-ounce candle brings to mind the image of a plate of fresh ginger cookies resting on the counter, the aroma mingling with notes of white lavender, almond blossom, and sage floating in on a warm breeze. Made with unique solid soy wax and a 100% cotton wick, this candle offers a 50-hour burn time and a true, natural scent.
- Vetiver Sage Reed Diffuser – Breathe in a fragrance of fresh herbs with this 15-ounce reed diffuser presented in an art glass vessel. Large, natural reeds distribute the fragrance, enabling you to customize its strength to the size of the space by altering the number of reeds.
- Signature Sage & Walnut Candle – Hand-poured in a decorative glass vessel, this 15.5-ounce candle harnesses the somber scent of fresh walnut overlaid with notes of star anise, fresh orange, and juniper sage. Made with naturally derived soy wax, this candle offers a 90-hour burn time and a highly concentrated essential oil-based fragrance.
After enjoying your Sage and Walnut fragranced candle, consider repurposing the art glass vessel to grow fresh sage in your kitchen. Simply clean the vessel to remove any leftover wax then fill it with a layer of gravel for drainage topped with high-quality potting mix. Add a few sage seeds then lightly water and keep the vessel in a warm, sunny location.
Whether you’re enjoying the fresh herb in your favorite recipe or basking in its fine fragrance from a LAFCO reed diffuser, sage is a stimulating, uplifting scent with many applications. Enjoy LAFCO fragrances like Vetiver Sage or Sage & Walnut in candles, reed diffusers, and more.