Sage. Salvia. U. S. VIII. Garden Sage. Meadow Sage. Save. Picked Sage. Sauge Officinale, Fr. Cod. Sauge, Fr. Folia Salviae, P. G. Salbei, G.—"The dried leaves of Salvia officinalis Linné (Fam. Labiatae)." U. S. VIII. Salvia officinalis, or common garden sage, is a perennial plant, about two feet high, with a quadrangular, pubescent, branching, shrubby stem, furnished with opposite, petiolate, ovate-lanceolate, crenulate, wrinkled leaves, of a grayish-green color, sometimes tinged with red or purple. The flowers are blue, variegated with white and purple, and are disposed on long terminal spikes, in distant whorls, each composed of a few flowers, and provided with ovate, acute, deciduous bracts. The calyx is tubular and striated, with two lips, of which the upper has three acute teeth, the under two. The corolla is tubular, bilabiate, ringent, with the upper lip concave, and the lower divided into three rounded lobes, of which the middle is the largest. The filaments are supported upon short pedicels, to which they are affixed transversely at the middle.
Sage grows spontaneously in Southern Europe, and is cultivated abundantly in our gardens. There are several varieties, differing in the size and color of their flowers, but all possessing the same medicinal properties. The flowering period is in June, at which time the plant should be cut, and dried in a shady place. The leaves were officially described as "long and stoutly petiolate, the blade elliptical or ovate-oblong, 3 to 7 Cm. long, obtuse or subacute at the summit, rounded or subcordate at the base, finely crenulate, thick, grayish-green, very pubescent, especially on the under surface, conspicuously reticulate-veined; odor aromatic; taste aromatic, bitter, and somewhat astringent." U. S. VIII.
Both the leaves and the flowering summits have a strong, fragrant odor, and a warm, bitterish, aromatic, somewhat astringent taste. They abound in a volatile oil, which may be obtained separate by distillation with water. Muir (J. Chem. S., 37, p. 678) found it to contain a terpene boiling at 156° C. (312.8° F.), another boiling at 171° C. (339.8° F.), thujone, C10H16O, a liquid boiling at from 197° to 203° C. (386.6°-397.4° F.), and ordinary camphor, C10H16O. In the fresh oil the first terpene predominates. On standing, the amount of thujone increases, and then the camphor. The oil from English leaves contains also a sesquiterpene, C15H24, of the boiling point 260° C. (500° F.). Wallach (Ann. Ch. Ph., 1889) states that the first portions contain pinene and cineol, but the greater portion consists of thujone, C10H16O (formerly called salviol). Ferrous sulphate strikes a black color with infusion of sage.
Sage unites slightly tonic, astringent, and aromatic properties. By the ancients it was highly esteemed; it is at present little used, except as a condiment, but has been given in dyspepsia, also for colliquative sweats. According to Cadeac and Meunier (Lyons Med., May, 1891), the volatile oil of sage is a violent epileptiform convulsant, resembling in its action the oil of absinthe, but less powerful.
The dose of the powdered leaves is from twenty to sixty grains (1.3-3.9 Gm.). Dose, of the infusion (one oz. in one pint of boiling water), two fluidounces (60 mils).
Although the Salvia officinalis was the only species of this genus which was recognized by the U. S. P. VIII, many other species share the feeble medicinal properties of sage. S. pratensis L., S. Aethiopis L., S. glutinosa L., and S. Sclarea L., or clarry, have been officially recognized in Europe, but are less agreeable than is S. officinalis and are not much used; the leaves of S. Sclarea are said to be introduced into wine in order to impart to it a muscatel taste. The infusion of the Rocky Mountain sage, probably S. lanceolata Willd., is affirmed by A. Comstock (T. G., 1887, 660) to be valuable as a diaphoretic in malarial and rheumatic fevers, taken in the form of hot infusion, and when cold to be distinctly tonic and astringent. The dose of fluidextract is half a fluidrachm (1.8 mils).
The seeds of various sages contain enough farinaceous and mucilaginous material to make them useful as food. In the Western United States the ordinary sages of the plains are highly esteemed for fattening cattle, which eat their ripened tops freely (these sages must be distinguished from the so-called "sage brushes" of the West, which belong to the genus Artemisia). Chia, is the seeds of one or more species of salvia largely used in Mexico and Southern Arizona by the natives as food. It is affirmed that the variety known as Chia pinoli is yielded by S. columbaria (see Report U. S. Geogr. Surveys, 100th Merid., vol. vi, 48). S. Chia was described in the Farmacopea Mexicana as a new species, yielding chia, but Mariano Bascena affirms (La Naturaleza, 1881) that the common chia-yielding sage of Mexico is S. polystachya Ort., while Chia asul is yielded by S. patens Cav. Guibourt is probably in error in ascribing chia to S. hispanica L. The chia seeds are used not only when crushed as food and for the making of mucilaginous poultices, but also for the preparation of a mucilaginous drink, prepared by adding a teaspoonful of the seed to a tumblerful of cold water, allowing it to stand for half an hour, sweetening and flavoring to taste. Chia seeds are described as follows: "The seed is oblong-ovate, somewhat flattish, from 1 to 8 mm. in length, at one end there is a small, dark line, forming a slight projection, which is the microphyle of the seed, and this, when exposed to moisture, opens in a star-shaped or scalloped manner, emitting the growing embryo. The seed is smooth and glossy, and is surrounded by a transparent epithelium, swelling very largely when in water. The testa is darkish-gray, striated with dark brown lines, running diagonally, and dotted, forming a very beautiful variegated surface; when pressed or crushed under a spatula it bursts at the hilum, exposing the cotyledons and the oil cells, leaving an oily stain upon paper. Internally the testa is dark, grayish-brown, perfectly smooth, glossy, and devoid of the external variegations or striae. It contains the embryo, with the radical pointing towards the hilum, and a white, mucilaginous substance much resembling unrendered fat." (A. J. P., May, 1882, 227-229.) The European species, Salvia verticillata L., S. Verbenaca L., S. horminum L. and S. viridis L., all indigenous to Central or Southern Europe, are also noted for the mucilaginous character of their seeds, and have on this account been employed to remove foreign substances from the eye. S. Verbenaca is sparingly naturalized in waste places in the Middle and Southern States.