Researchers and anthropologists agree that sage is one of the oldest herbs and natural remedies used by humans throughout history. Today, sage isn’t just used as an all-natural medicine, but as a culinary spice to flavor specific dishes.
When used as an essential oil, sage offers a range of health benefits. The process of creating the oil requires distillation of sage leaves. Once enough of this oil has been concentrated, individuals can reap its benefits. Try clary sage essential oil in a few of MONQ’s favorite blends like Happy or Love.
The History of Sage
As highlighted above, sage has been used for most of human history as an herbal healing agent. The plant is native to the countries around the Mediterranean sea and has been used for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans prized sage. Many historical accounts about the herb exist thousands of years after the fall of both empires.1 The Greeks and Romans considered sage sacred, stockpiling large stores, producing its essential oil through steam distillation, and using it in monuments and temples. Ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, used sage as a fertility solution, either by applying it topically or by boiling it into tea.2
Historical records indicate that some groups used sage for preserving meat and other foodstuffs. This made it one of the most important herbs on the Silk Road. Charlemagne himself mandated that be sage planted throughout Germany in 812 AD for use in medicine and trade.3
In the 10th century, Arab physicians believed that sage allowed for immortality. Meanwhile, in the 14th century, Europeans used it in order to protect themselves from witchcraft. In the Middle Ages, monks used 16 herbs in creating their therapies and medicines, and sage was one of these herbs. During the 17th century, sage was popular in China for use in tea and alleviating stomach, digestive, and nervous system issues. It is said that the Chinese would trade one case of sage leaves for three cases of regular tea leaves with the Dutch.
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In Yugoslavia people revered sage, viewing it as medicine for both the mind and body. Sage was used in sacred ceremonies, as well as cooked into healing tonics by ancient apothecaries.
As a result of its terpene composition, sage holds antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Sage is composed of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and antispasmodics that prevent damage from free radicals, eliminate inflammation and alleviate muscle spasms or twitches.
The biochemicals that make up sage include, but aren’t limited to, a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, myrcene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, A-thujone, B-thujone, camphor, linalool, bornyl acetate, and borneol.4 This diverse collection of volatile oils, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and terpenes provides sage with its healing and restorative properties.
Uses for Sage Essential Oil
The positive health benefits of sage are well-recorded, and individuals around the world use sage essential oil for respiratory issues, menstrual pain, bacterial and fungal infections, skin conditions, digestive issues, stress, and fatigue. The essential oil is most commonly used topically when diluted with a carrier oil or inhaled as aromatherapy through a diffuser.
Used in vapor therapy, sage essential oil can be used to calm the nerves or alleviate anxiety, as well as to improve with cognition and memory. The essential oil can help alleviate some symptoms of menopause as well as alleviate muscle tension or stiffness. As an ingredient in a lotion or cream, sage proves particularly beneficial in alleviating skin conditions.
In Germany, the use of sage is approved for mild gastrointestinal issues as well as for treating excessive sweating. One study found that using a dry leaf extract or product infused with sage reduced sweating by as much as 50 percent. Other studies have reported using sage as a means to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
Below, we highlight some of the additional health benefits sage essential oils offers.
Antifungal and Antimicrobial Properties
The camphor and camphene in sage give this all-natural healing agent tremendous antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Researchers have discovered that sage essential oil fights fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and dermatitis.
These same substances allow for the oil’s antimicrobial and antibacterial effects. Applying sage essential oil topically to small wounds or cuts can prevent bacterial infections. Additionally, it can be used to relieve inflammation of the skin or fever, as well as inflammation of the stomach.
Antioxidant and Antiseptic Properties
Antioxidants in sage make for its frequent use as an anti-aging agent. The antioxidants in sage essential oil prevent damage by free radicals. These would otherwise speed up aging by creating wrinkles or breaking down muscle and joint tissue.
The antioxidants and antiseptics in sage essential oil fight against these destructive agents. It prevents and reverses some of the negative effects free radicals create.5
Anti Inflammatory and Antispasmodic Properties
Inflammation in the body causes general pain and discomfort, puts pressure on organs and organ systems, and results in hormonal imbalances. Research has shown that sage reduces inflammation in the body, including on the skin, around major organs, and in the bloodstream.6
The antispasmodic properties of sage essential oil go hand-in-hand with its anti-inflammatory properties, clearing up coughs, cramps, or muscle spasms.
Additionally, sage tea is often gargled in order to reduce inflammation in the throat. Other than gargling, a mixture of dried sage leaves infused in 100ml of hot water and sweetened with honey can also help in alleviating the pain of a sore throat.
In addition to its anti-aging benefits, sage essential oil can be used as a toner for oily skin or for treatment of skin problems. As a toner, sage essential oil effectively regulates sebum production in the skin, consequently reducing its oiliness. To make this at-home toner, boil a spoonful of sage in 250ml of water. Steep this mixture for 30 minutes, then strain and let cool before applying to the face. The antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties in sage essential oil also make it effective for alleviating skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
Whether in preventing hair loss or simply maintaining soft hair, sage can be a beneficial addition to a haircare routine. There are two compounds important compounds in sage essential oil: beta-sitosterol and 5-alpha-reductase. These have been linked to helping decrease the hair loss associated with male-pattern baldness. A mixture of a few drops of sage essential oil with rosemary and peppermint essential oils and 1 tablespoon of olive oil can be massaged onto the scalp twice a day in order to reap these benefits of the oil.
For hair health, a sage-based wash can be prepared by boiling 1 tablespoon of sage leaves in a cup of water. In addition to maintaining shine in hair, this mixture can also prevent dandruff. Combining sage with rosemary in this same way can also make for the added benefit of stimulating hair growth.
Safety and Precautions
Because of its potency, it is important to be careful in sage essential oil use. The oil has been classified by the CDC as an oral toxin due to the amount of the terpene thujone. This means it should not be ingested directly. Sage should not be used for a prolonged period of time. It can result in increased heart rate or mental confusion. Therefore, it is best to only use sage in recommended amounts no greater than two weeks.
The preferred delivery mechanism for sage is a topical application (after dilution with a carrier oil) or vaporization. Because of its benefits, sage is popular in the world of aromatherapy, but it is important to be mindful of the amount being inhaled.
Like many other essential oils, it is not recommended that sage is used if pregnant or nursing.
Individuals suffering from high blood pressure, seizures, or epilepsy are asked to consult with a medical professional before using sage.7
Starting from its use by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, sage has served as a powerful a natural remedy, whether in skincare and haircare or for its antibacterial properties.
With a collection of biochemicals that improve overall health, sage was a staple in ancient medicine. It has been very effective for physiological and psychological health. For this same reason, sage essential oil should become a staple in your routine, either used topically or as part of an aromatherapy session with a room diffuser or portable aromatherapy diffuser like Zen, Active, or Vibrant MONQ.
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