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Common Sage - Not So Common

AKA: Salvia officinalis, L. Family: Lamiaceae (mint), garden sage, common sage, culinary sage. This is NOT White Sage (Salvia Apiana). They are from the same family but have very different properties both medicinally and spiritually.

Propagation/Description: Salvia officinalis is an aromatic, rather woody perennial shrub in the mint family (Lamiaceae) native to the shores of the northern Mediterranean. It grows to approximately 2 feet tall and wide. It flowers in late spring or summer, producing lavender, purple, pink or white flowers. The leaves are oblong, approximately 2 ½ inches long and 1 inch wide. The leaves are grey-green and wrinkled on the top, while the underside is white and covered in short, soft hairs. You can propagate Sage from cuttings by placing a 2–8-inch stem in water and watch for roots to start sprouting after a few weeks. This method ensures that the plant you grow is exactly like the parent plant it was harvested from. The other method is by seed by starting them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost under a plant light. Sage seeds will germinate in about 3 weeks, after which you can transplant seedlings to your prepared soil.

Folklore/History: There are approximately 900 or more different species of Salvia (Sage) out there. The word “sage” has come to mean “wise” or “a wise or learned person.” It's scientific name, Salvia, means “to be in good health”, “to save”, or “salvation” while officinalis is an old reference to an herb store, pharmacy, or drugstore. It is often mentioned as the herb of immortality, domestic virtue, health, and wisdom. Sage was a sacred ceremonial herb of the Romans. It has been cultivated for both culinary and medicinal purposes for many centuries in Europe. In the Middle Ages it was held that sage prolonged life, elated one’s spirits, softened sorrow, and when consumed by young girls, enabled them to see their future husbands. Sage tea has been thought for hundreds of years to be a brain food and a remedy against epilepsy and a protection against the Black Plague. It is most recently famed as a flavoring herb in our American Traditional Thanksgiving entrees like stuffing and other sorts of holiday delectables.

Medicinal: In folk medicine, S. officinalis has been used for the treatment of different kinds of disorders including seizure, ulcers, gout, rheumatism, inflammation, dizziness, tremor, paralysis, diarrhea, and hyperglycemia. It is believed that it was used in ancient Egypt to treat stomach ailments, toothache, and asthma. and was listed in the Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC) as a remedy for itching. Followers of Hippocrates praised its styptic and strengthening qualities as well as its beneficial effects on menstruation. Under the name of Salvia, the plant was described in the works of the Romans, Plinius, Dioscorides and Galen. They recommended it for warming and contractions, for coughs, hoarseness, for labor pains and ulcers. In recent years, pharmacology studies have found that it holds benefits to include anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antidementia, hypoglycemic, spasmolytic, antiseptic, antihidrotic, astringent, and hypolipidemic effects. Studies have also shown it to be used as a digestion aid and help treat diarrhea. They have also found that it acts as an antiseptic, antibacterial, helps stop neuropathic pain, improves memory, lowers glucose levels, treat sore throats, helps treat the pain in an infected wounds and increase the blood flow thus speeding up the healing, and helps to alleviate menopause symptoms by helping to balance the hormones. This is also the case in men as well. A clinical study published in 2011 concluded that it may also help reduce blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia). Caution is suggested for breastfeeding mothers, however, as it can significantly reduce milk production in nursing mothers.

Spiritual: In the Middle Ages, Sage was used for prolongation of Life and chasing evil spirits away, in ceremonies and was a symbol of fertility, good health and long life. Now Sage is often burned to absorb negative energy to create a ritual space or a protective environment (Herbalpedia, 2014). It is believed that sage can bring wisdom, wealth, money, and even immortality. In addition, it is believed that sage flowers help with self-learning, reflection, achieving perspective, and experiencing inner peace. These are beliefs shared by many spiritual paths including Christianity!

Summary: As we step into the holiday season, whether American traditional or Pagan traditional, we all start to reflect on our memories of the past, reflect on our present and start making goals to achieve our futures. Sage (Salvia officinalis) has a place in all those chapters of our lives. It comes with a rich history in medicine and spirituality, has a daily presence in our present and can help us set in motion our goals for our future. No matter how you may choose to use Sage (Salvia officinalis) in your life, we all need to make space for this herb in our lives. There is no one word in our language that can express the importance of Sage (Salvia officinalis) in our world. It can bring so much positive into our lives that there is no doubt it is one of the most valuable plant resources we have. The Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks knew it way back in ancient times and when others didn’t understand the importance, they valued it regardless of what the rest of the world thought. They were and still are correct in that belief.


· The Lost Book Of Herbal Remedies, The Healing Power of Plant Medicine by Nicole Apelian, Ph.D & Claude Davis; Pgs 130-131.

· Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments by Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH; Pg 131.

· The Essential guide To Herbal Safety by Simon Mills, MA, CPP, FNIMH & Kerry Bone, BSc (HONS), DIP PHYTO, FNIMH, FNHAA, MCPP; Pgs 558-559.

· The Secret Language of Herbs by Alice Peck; Pgs 98-99.

· Hedgewitche’s Field Guide by Siolo Thompson; Pgs 138-140.

· Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham; Pg 223.

· Plant Witchery, Discover the Sacred Language, Wisdom, and Magic of 200 Plants by Juliet Diaz; Pgs 287-288.

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