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.
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.
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: