Benefits of Sage and Using It to Support Better Health

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Benefits of Sage

I am a big fan of sage (Salvia spp.). We grow several different varieties of this herb on our farm every year. With close to 1,000 different species it isn’t too difficult to find one to love. A lot of people grow the common garden sage (Salvia officinalis) with thoughts of fresh herbs at Thanksgiving, but there is more to this family than meets the eye, and the benefits of sage are very numerous!

Benefits of Sage for Better Health

People have valued the medicinal qualities and benefits of sage for at least as long as humans have been writing things down.

For the Mouth & Throat

S. officinalis is the most common variety and is typically used in mouth and throat applications. To make a healing sage tea, simply pour one cup of boiling water over two to three teaspoons of sage and allow it to sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Improving Health

A traditional benefit of sage was to take it as a warm tea to stimulate digestion, prevent the flu, and relieve pain in the joints. It helps to control our digestion of fats and allows us to use fluid in our bodies better. When there is dryness, sage can increase moisture.

Drying Out Tissues

Surprisingly, used as a cool tea, Matthew Wood tells us that it can dry out our tissues when needed as well. This is why it is the classic weaning herb.

Cooling the Body

Served cold, it cools the body and is one of my favorite recommendations to those who are struggling with menopausal hot flashes.

Improving Memory

Recent research supports that benefits of sage include improved memory, even helping where there is agitation associated with Alzheimer’s.

Sage Benefits and Types of Sage to Use

What type of sage can be used for different health benefits? I hear this question frequently.

Most of the sage varieties you’ll get at the garden center are just variations of Salvia officinalis. They may have purple leaves instead of the typical silver/grey, or they may be striped. In most cases, these decorative sages are interchangeable with the true common sage. They’re a lot of fun to use at the table or in tea as well!

As far as the other sage varieties that are out there, the answer is: it depends. Some plants, like white sage, can be used interchangeably with common sage. Some plants, like pineapple sage, have special qualities all their own.

I have listed some other varieties of sage (below) that you are likely to encounter in your daily life. I’ll bet a couple of these will surprise you. (Did you know that chia is actually a sage?!)

Take a look and see if you can find these varieties the next time you are planning a garden. They are so much fun to grow and provide great rewards in terms of lush growth and beautiful flowers. Keep them trimmed and mulch them well for winter, and many of them will return year after year.

My favorite members of the sage genus:

  • white sage – Salvia apiana 
  • pineapple sage – Salvia elegans 
  • chia – Salvia hispanica
  • Mexican bush sage – Salvia leucantha 
  • red sage or danshen – Salvia miltiorrhiza 
  • common sage – Salvia officinalis 
  • clary sage – Salvia sclarea

More Uses and Benefits of Sage

For more info on sage, check out these related articles:


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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  1. Sheila says

    It would have been nice to see pictures of the varieties mentioned.

    Looking up ‘sage’ on wikipedia, daisies and mint are listed under ‘sage’ as well as 100s of shrubs and bushes. You said you grow several varieties and say there are close to 1,000 different species but didn’t clarify if the benefits you mention apply to any of the other varieties other than the ones you specifically mention.

    In other words, does any plant called ‘sage’ have the benefits you mention? The reason I’m asking is because we have many plants in Canada (actually, half way to the Arctic Circle) that locals call ‘sage’ and they smell like sage but are not in any botanical books. How do I know if our local ‘sage’ has the same benefits?

    • Dawn says

      Hi Sheila,
      This is why it is so important to know the latin names of the plants we want to use for health or food. That’s unfortunate that wikipedia is offering plants that are not part of the sage family up as examples, but it highlights the unreliability of the platform. The plants I am focusing on here in this article are all from the Salvia genus. You will note in the list above that they all have a different species name, but the same genus. Common names are very misleading and unreliable, hence why the latin name is so important. There are at this point, I think, over 150 different common names for dandelion across the globe… but only one latin name, Taraxacum officinale. As far as the other plants that are in your area being called “sage” I can only say that if you find out what they are truly called and they are in the Salvia genus, then it is quite possible that they share similar phytochemicals with the plants I shared in this article. To figure out their latin name you will most likely need to get your hands on a really good plant key in a taxonomic guide for where you live. I wish you all the best in exploring the native plants in your backyard!!