Ally - Sage the Saviour
an article by Susun Weed
the odor of sage evoke warmth, cheer, and holiday
feasts for you? Sage has long been used to add savor,
magic, and medicine to winter meals. Culinary sage
is available at any grocery store, and sage is one
of the easiest of all herbs to grow - whether in
a pot, on a windowsill, or in the garden. So, grab
some sage, inhale deeply, and let me tell you more
about this old friend.
Sage is Salvia, which means "savior". As a member
of the mint family, it has many of the healing properties
of its sisters. Of special note are the high levels
of calcium and other bone-building minerals in all
mints, including sage, and the exceptionally generous
amounts of antioxidant vitamins they offer us.
Everywhere sage grows - from Japan to China, India,
Russia, Europe and the Americas - people have valued
it highly and used it as a preservative seasoning
for fatty foods and a medicine for a variety of
ills. The volatile oils in sage are antimicrobial
and antibacterial and capable of countering a variety
of food-borne poisons, as well as other infections.
A tea of garden sage can help:
prevent and eliminate head colds
· soothe and heal sore throats
· clear the sinuses
· speed up immune response to the flu
· ease asthma and heal the lungs
· aid digestion, especially of fats
· improve sleep and ease anxiety
· insure regularity
· invigorate the blood
· strengthen the ability to deal with stress
· counter periodontal disease and tighten the gums
· reduce profuse perspiration
· help wean baby by reducing breast milk
The easiest way to use sage as medicine is to make
a tea of it. The addition of honey* is traditional
and wise, as honey is a powerful antibacterial in
its own right and magnifies sage's ability to ward
off colds, flu, and breathing problems.
If you have dried sage, a teaspoonful brewed in
a cup of boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes,
with an added teaspoonful of honey, ought to produce
a pleasant, aromatic tea. If it is bitter, the tea
was brewed too long, or the sage was old or too-finely
powdered, or you have the wrong sage.
If you have fresh sage, use a handful of the leaves
and stalks, brew for about five minutes, and add
a spoonful of honey. Fresh sage tea is rarely bitter.
Or, you can make a ready-sweetened sage tea by using
your own home-made sage honey.
As the cold comes on and frosts threaten, I make
my major mint-family harvests of the year, including
pruning back the sage. Where I live, the frost won't
kill the sage, but it will blacken the leaves and
cause them to fall off. Before that happens, I take
my scissors and cut the plants back by at least
half. I coarsely chop the stems and leaves and put
them in a jar. (For best results, I choose a jar
that will just contain the amount of herb at hand.
If there is unused space in the jar, oxidation will
occur, and components of the herb can be damaged
or altered.) Then, I slowly pour honey over the
chopped herb, poking with a chopstick to eliminate
air bubbles, until the jar is nearly full. A SAGE
HONEY label completes the preparation. All that
is left to do is to store it in a cool, dark place
and wait for six weeks. From then on, or sooner
if you really need it, the sage honey is ready to
use. Just dig in! Put a heaping tablespoonful in
a big mug of boiling hot water, stir and drink.
Or let it brew for a few minutes, strain and drink.
Be sure to use Salvia sages, the ones with pebbly-fleshed
ovate leaves, not Artemisia sages which have white
hairs on the backs of the ferny leaves. White sage,
frequently sold as a "smudge" herb (that is, an
herb whose smoke is used to create a protective
field around a space) is a Salvia sage but it is
too strong for use as a food or medicine.
I make honeys of other fresh mint family plants,
too. (No, dried plants don't make good honeys.)
Besides fresh sage honey I often make peppermint
honey, lemon balm honey, rosemary honey, thyme honey,
oregano honey, marjoram honey, shiso honey, and
bergamot honey. They all help me stay healthy throughout
the winter, and they all taste ever so good.
Although the tincture and essential oil of sage
are available, I find them too concentrated and
too dangerous for general use. Households with children
do best when there are no essential oils on hand;
fatal accidents have occurred.
I do make sage vinegar: by pouring room temperature
apple cider vinegar over a jar filled with chopped
fresh sage. Sage vinegar is not as medicinal as
the tea but, with olive oil and tamari, it makes
a delicious and healthy salad dressing. Two tablespoons
of apple cider vinegar daily can reduce your risk
of adult onset diabetes by half; two tablespoons
of sage vinegar daily might just keep you alive
forever - as the saying goes: "Why die when the
Savior grows in your garden?".
Using herbs as allies to stay healthy and to counter
life's ordinary problems is simple and easy, safe
and effective. Herbal medicine is people's medicine.
Green blessings grow all around you.
*Note: Do not give honey to babies under 12 months
PO Box 64
Woodstock, NY 12498
Visit Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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Susun S. Weed is the author of four highly-acclaimed
books on herbs and women's health: Wise Woman Herbal
for the Childbearing Year, Healing Wise, New Menopausal
Years the Wise Woman Way and Breast Cancer? Breast
Health! the Wise Woman Way. Ms. Weed lectures world-wide
on women's health and herbal medicine. From her
home in New York State's Catskill Mountains, she
directs the activities of the Wise Woman Center,
acts as editor-in-chief of Ash Tree Publishing,
personally oversees the work of 400 correspondence
students, and trains herbal and shamanic apprentices.
Susun has lived the simple life for nearly 40 years
as an herbalist, goatkeeper, homesteader, and feminist.
She has been called "a true radical - deeply rooted,"
"a modern pioneer," and "one of the founding mothers
of herbal medicine in the United States†.