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Herb of the week: Sage, Salvia.

Photo: Salvia officinalis 12. A short profile:

Latin: Salvia officinalis and similar bitter and aromatic Salvia species.
Family: Lamiaceae, mint family.
Parts used: Leaf or flowering top.
Taste: Aromatic, bitter.
4 humors: Warmish, dryish.


  • The tea, drunk cold (or tincture in cold water) will slow down sweating and milk production.
  • The tea, drunk hot (or tincture in hot water) will make you sweat more and produce more milk.
  • A nice digestive herb.
  • A lung strengthener.
  • Great general mint-family anti-inflammatory.


  • You can use white sage (Salvia apiana) instead of garden sage ... but I use that one for smudges, for bad coughs, and as a perfume. Mmmm. White sage.
  • Some herbalists say that it must be the red-leaved cultivar of garden sage (Salvia officinalis). Pffft for that, sez I ... use any garden sage you can lay your hands on. Also, quite a lot of the other aromatic species work. Mmmm for Salvia greggii ... or the black sage, which I just got in the mail. A strong scent, and just *wow* for the taste! (Waves to Ginia).
  • Artemisias (mugworts, Asteraceae family) aren't Salvias (sages, Lamiaceae family). Don't use mugworts in your cooking, and don't expect mugworts to work like sages. (ie. know your botany: at least the Latin name, but it's good to know the family as well.).

Food uses:

  • You can spice up fatty foods with sage or rosemary. Note, if you add sage to, say, goose, that goose WILL taste of sage. You've been warned ... (I don't like the scent or taste of garden sage anymore, haven't for at least 20 years.)


  • A few ladies have told me that the leaf tea is great for their hot flushes.
  • If you get some respiratory trouble every year (or more often), you might want to strengthen your lungs. Take sage or thyme every day for 1-2 months.
  • Nice for digestive troubles, especially to help digest fats: it's an aromatic bitter. Use other aromatic bitters as well, or you might find that Salvia tastes detestable, sooner or later.
  • You could, if you so wished, drink a cold Salvia tea if you want to stop breastfeeding. You'll also produce less milk slowly if you taper off the breastfeeding slowly. (And your boobs will continue to look fab if you don't stop breastfeeding all at once).
  • A tea or tincture of the various aromatic sages (not mugworts!) is a nice general anti-inflammatory. Take it for all kinds of lung grunge, and for various other mucous membrane troubles as well. You could even give it a shot for joint problems.

Comments on Facebook:

  • From Maria Salama:
    Salvia has helped me with tiredness caused by winterdarkness (I got the tip last summer and this winter has been the easiest ever :) ), and it also eases menstrual cramps.
    18 April at 10:24
  • From Peaceful Acres Farm:
    I LOVE Salvia!!! I started a few Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage) plants 2 yrs ago and after wintering over in my hoop bed, they are Ginormous! I love brushing up against them and the beautiful scent that whiffs past me. I love using the EO in soap with Lavender. I hope to infuse it in oils this summer to use in my soap making for troubled skin. Of course I also love cooking with Salvia and all the varieties that there are!
    18 April at 14:19
  • From Henriette's herbal:
    Clary sage is stunning, but the scent ... I used to like that, too, a decade ago :-)
    18 April at 16:19
  • From Diana Nelson:
    I have one of these plants. Last autumn I dried a lot of sage. Can I use the dried for these tinctures or does it need to be the fresh. What amounts do you find works best?
    18 April at 16:21
  • From Henriette's herbal:
    Dried leaf, 1:5 60 %. The tea works too, 1 tsp to 200 ml (½ c) boiling water, let steep 5-10 minutes, drink 1-3 cups / day.
    18 April at 17:04
  • From Walk in the Woods, LLC:
    I do love good ol' garden sage. I use to cook with, to sip as tea, and while I do keep a tincture on hand, I can't say that I've used it much. And I do like to powder it on occasion to add to my tooth powder. :)
    18 April at 19:30
  • From Henriette's herbal:
    Thanks for that reminder: of course, tooth powder! It's great for that. :-)
    18 April at 20:57
  • From Richard Druery:
    Can't hurt to put some dried powder in my Green Smoothies. Heard you can put fresh plant and olive oil in a blender, tear it all up and freeze in a ice cube tray and the olive oil keeps it fresh for a very long time. Olive oil has that benefit.
    19 April at 02:38
  • From Susan Marynowski:
    Salvia the savior! In addition to all of this greatness of Sage, European studies have also shown it to be a memory preserver and enhancer if a cup of tea is taken daily over time.
  • From Jennifer H:
    she's a powerful one especially for all of us wisewomen menopausals
    18 April at 17:28
  • From Panacea Herbals:
    Do you use Sage? Its easy to grow, makes a tasty tea, is great to use in cooking, and a favorite of mine for night sweats!
    18 April at 16:13
  • From Ann L:
    Oh how I wish I knew about sage when I suffered from those night sweats-now I have the chills!
    18 April at 17:44
  • From Marlee Ann:
    I make a refreshing drink with filtered water, fresh sage, fresh cucumber and lemon slices. It is amazing.
    I am using garden sage here....guess that is important to is a iced drink. I make in a clear glass pitcher...Gorgeous, healthy and super refreshing....some call it spa water too. REALLY pretty when it is blooming!
    18 April at 16:10

Comments on the herblist:

  • .. none ..

Please add your own experiences etc. in the comments!

This plant will be in my next book ("Practical Herbs 2"), out in 2013 or so. Buy "Practical Herbs", it's excellent!.