Thanksgiving may be over, and the leftovers may be all gone, but there’s no reason to abandon the bottle of sage in the back of the cupboard. Sage is famous for being the “Thanksgiving herb,” the one everyone puts in their stuffing for the turkey, but sage is an incredible herb that’s great to use at all times of the year, not just on the 4th Thursday in November.
For centuries, sage has been viewed as a cure-all herb. It’s Latin name, salvia, means “healthy” or “whole,” and sage is a amazing herb for holistic healing because of its ability to help to restore balance and health to the whole body.
The more I read about sage, the more amazed I am at its long list of benefits. I had always thought of sage as a delicious herb to use in cooking, but I hadn’t realized just how versatile sage was as an herbal remedy. Unlike some herbs that seem to be categorized mainly as useful for boosting immunity or helping with digestion and etc., sage’s list of healing properties spans just about every system of the body.
Here’s a list of some of the healing properties of sage I’ve found (and I’m sure there are probably others too!):
Healing Properties of Sage:
1) Helps with Indigestion
According to the 1837 edition of The Family Nurse, sage “checks nausea, invigorates a feeble appetite” and helps with “weak and windy stomachs” (pg. 103) No one wants a “weak and windy stomach” (how’s that for a description of indigestion?!) so it’s sage to the rescue! According to folklore, chewing a sage leaf before eating is even supposed to help to avoid indigestion in the first place.
2) Eases Headaches
I hardly ever get headaches – usually only when I’m starting to come down with something – so I haven’t tried using sage as a headache remedy yet, but the next time I start to feel a headache coming on, I’m brewing myself up a nice big cup of sage tea rather than reaching for a bottle of pills!
3) Reduces Fevers and Sweating
Interestingly, sage tea “can either stop sweating when drunk cold, or produce sweating when taken hot” (source). Cold sage tea is very refreshing and can help with reducing fevers or just with making you more comfortable on a hot humid day. The taste is a bit more grassy or peppery than some herbal teas, but with a little bit of honey it tastes pretty good, and it cools you down surprisingly well!
4) Relieves Inflammation of the Skin
When applied externally, sage tea can help to sooth itchy, irritated skin. According to The Vade-Mecum and Useful Companion: Containing Facts and Information both Useful and Entertaining (a pamphlet of recipes and home remedies printed in the 1850s), the recommended remedy for a sunburn is to wash the face (or the sunburned area) with sage tea.
5) Eases Congestion
Sage has decongestive properties that are helpful for treating congestion and coughing. According to The Herbal Kitchen, sage is “brimming with minerals and holds a place in the forefront of all cold and flu remedies” (102).Using sage in cooking is a great addition to your cold-prevention resources, and a cup of sage tea is a natural way to ease the congestion and coughing that often comes along with a cold or with the flu.
6) Soothes Sore Throats and Gums
Sage tea can be used like a mouthwash to help with sore or inflamed gums, and a cup of sage tea is soothing for a sore throat – especially with a generous amount of honey stirred into it!
7) Improves Mental Clarity
Sage is believed by many to help with thinking and to improve the memory. In the 17th century, some people even believed that sage could be a cure for insanity. Sage, like most herbs, smells amazing, and its scent can help your mind to feel clearer and more alert. One of my favorite things to do in the garden is to rub my fingers over the sage leaves and enjoy the wonderful aroma.
8) Acts as Disinfectant and Preservative
In centuries past, sage was often boiled in sick rooms as an air purifier and disinfectant. Sage’s antibacterial properties also make it a great culinary preservative for foods such as meats. Sage was often traditionally used as a seasoning for meats such as sausage and for poultry dishes because of its preservative properties – and because sage tastes amazing with pork and poultry!
(Note: Sage shouldn’t be used medicinally by women who are pregnant or nursing, and long-term use of sage (besides culinary use) isn’t recommended unless under the direction of a qualified herbal practitioner or naturopathic doctor.)
Where to Find Sage Tea
Sage tea isn’t exactly the most popular tea out there. Chances are, you probably won’t be able to find it at a regular grocery store. At a health food store you might be able to find it, depending on how good the tea selection is. You can find sage leaf tea online here at Amazon.com, but it’s also really easy (and usually cheaper!) to make your own at home. All you need are sage leaves – from your own garden or from a good quality organic supplier such as the sage leaves sold here at Mountain Rose Herbs – and either an infuser or reusable tea bag.
Mountain Rose Herbs has a great selection of different kinds of infusers (you can find them all on this page.) My favorite types are the mesh infuser ball and the handled mesh infuser. Both of those types of infusers are great because you can reuse them over and over again for endless cups of tea. If you want the convenience of being able to take a tea bag with you on a trip, though, or if you want to be able to make up your own tea bags ahead of time, I would recommend their disposable tea filters.
After reading about all of the amazing benefits of sage, I was extra, extra excited to dig into my sage-filled Thanksgiving feast last week, and I’m looking forward to enjoying sage for the rest of the year too!
1. The Family Nurse
2. Herbal Kitchen, The: 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family
3. Old-Time Country Wisdom & Lore: 1000s of Traditional Skills for Simple Living
4. The Ultimate Herb Book: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Over 200 Herbs
5. The Vade-Mecum and Useful Companion: Containing Facts and Information both Useful and Entertaining, published in New-London, CT circa 1853
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