Fall always gets me thinking about the upcoming holidays. Turkey is right up there on my list, along with mashed potatoes, gravy, and home made stuffing. And the stuffing has to be loaded with sage or it’s just not right. But, there are many more uses for sage and other related salvias than just accompanying your holiday bird.
Using Sage Herb (Salvia Plant)
There are a great many plants in the genus Salvia, commonly called sage. Some are common, like culinary sage, but some, like the beautiful ‘Black and Blue’ salvia are not as well known.
1. White sage is sacred to the Native Americans and is often used in ceremonies. It can be used as an incense or a smudge to “cleanse” a room or home. To smudge, simply light a clump of white sage (often it is sold as a smudge bundle) and blow it out so that it smokes. Allow this smoke to drift into the corners of your home while thinking positive thoughts. This should be done in a clockwise manner about your home and be sure to open closet doors so you don’t miss anything. Keep a fireproof container under the smudge stick so none of the ashes fall on the floor.
2. White sage is undergoing trials right now at the University of Arizona regarding its antibacterial properties. It is being tested on Salmonella, Streptococcus and E. coli.
3. Most all of the sage and Salvia plants have bright or fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
4. Pineapple sage, with its bright red flowers, is often used in culinary preparations and as a tea. It comes in a dark green leaf plant and a golden leaf variety. Both have a fruity scent and flavor which reminds me of Juicy Fruit gum.
5. Common sage, also called garden sage, is available with different colored leaves as well. Try the large oval gray-green leaf, purple leaf or tricolor leaf. All of these have similar tastes and can be used for your holiday dressing interchangeably.
6. Sage Hispanica is also known as Chia. It is the source of the name Chiampas, the area in Mexico where it comes from. Many of us are familiar with the Chia Pets that were sold in the eighties. You get the terra cotta figure wet and spread the chia seeds on the grooves in the top. Water it daily and within a few days to a week, you have a head of chia “hair,” which looks like grass. There’s more to the chia than that.
7. Chia seeds are high in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, making it a great supplement. The seeds also create a coating of gel around them, which is why they are often made into smoothies and other drinks. Grind them up and you can use them as thickeners in soups and sauces.
8. Mexican bush sage is an ornamental that can get 4-5 feet tall. It has medium purple flowers.
9. Clary sage can get very tall as well. It has leaf bracts that surround the flowers that range from cream colored to mauve to purple. Clary sage is used to make essential oil which is then used to make perfumes. (Find clary sage essential oil here.)
10. Clary sage has strong hormonal strength. It can help with menstrual issues such as cramps and irritability. It can also be used during menopause to help relieve hot flashes and night sweats. It’s said that just sniffing the essential oil can help.
11. Studies are being done on common sage for help with Alzheimer’s and hyperlipidema. This is a condition that diabetics can get, in which there is an excess of lipids in the blood.
12. Scarlet sage is the common annual that you see at the garden centers in the spring. It may need to be renamed some day as it now comes in cream, yellow, red, purple, and even red and cream striped. Hummingbirds and butterflies love it.
13. My new favorite is ‘Black and Blue’ sage. It is a medium green leaf with dark cobalt blue flowers and black calyxes. It is an annual in most parts of the country. Mine is about 3 feet tall right now and the migrating monarchs are all over it.
14. Most all salvia varieties are drought tolerant once established. They also don’t seem to care about the type of soil they’re in. Be sure to give them full sun and plenty of room. I just harvested my pineapple sage and it was over my head! I filled up 12 dehydrator trays and still have more to dry.
15. Russian sage is a colorful perennial that blooms light purple flowers for much of late summer and into fall. It’s often dried and used for potpourri.
16. Some salvia are under review for legality as far as drug use. There are some that have psychoactive chemicals that can act as narcotics for some individuals. (So be sure of what variety you are getting!)
Using Sage for a Sore Throat
Here is an herbal throat gargle that I sometimes use in cold and flu season.
- 1 cup hot water (find the best water filtration systems here)
- 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves (find organic sage leaf here)
- pinch of salt
Place the sage leaves in a tea strainer and pour the water over the leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and add the salt. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Gargle with a few tablespoons. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a week. Warm to room temperature to use.
Have you used sage before?
What are some of your favorite uses?