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Sage - Salvia officinalis

There are many species and cultivars of this evergreen, shrubby perennial, which has a woody base with soft, oval leaves of silvery, green or purple, and a mass of deep blue or violet flowers.

The name Salvia comes from the Latin word Salvare, meaning ‘to cure’ - a Medieval saying echoes this : “why should a man die while Sage grows in his garden?” Considered a ‘herba sacra’ [scared herb] by the Romans, Sage has long been associated with longevity, a popular country rhyme tells us that “he who drinks sage in May, shall live for aye.” [Also known as “He that would live for aye, Must eat sage in May.”]

Sage extracts have been successfully used to combat old-age problems, including senile dementia, and is believed to strengthen the senses and the memory - research suggests that it may be useful in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It also contains powerful anti-oxidants which can combat the ageing of cells.

Sage has an affinity with throats, and makes an excellent antiseptic gargle and mouthwash for minor infections and inflammations -try an infusion of a few leaves to a cupful of boiling water. It is particularly tonic and stimulating to the gums and mucous membranes, and the leaves of the sage can be rubbed on to teeth to make them whiter and to improve gum condition. As a tea, sage should only be taken occasionally, and has a pronounced flavour (although apparently the Chinese find it infinitely preferable to black tea). An infusion of sage is said to be useful if you suffer from menopausal night sweats.

A tonic to the system, sage is deep cleansing, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. An infusion of sage can be added to a footbath to help clear fungal infections of the feet, and it also makes an effective hair rinse for greying hair, or for treating dandruff. Sage helps lift the spirits, relieve tiredness and lethargy, and aides concentration.

Fresh sage leaves can be rubbed on to stings and bites - in much the same way as you might rub a dock leaf on a nettle sting. Incidentally, insects such as fleas, mosquitos and flies don’t care much for sage - keep a pot in your home, scatter the dried or fresh leaves and flowers about, or burn as an incense or on the fire.

Medicinally the Purple Sage -Salvia officinalis purpurascens - variety is preferred. Another commonly used variety is Spanish Sage - Salvia lavendulaefolia. The oil is used in many therapeutic treatments, and the plant itself is similar to the common/garden sage (S. officinalis) but with narrower leaves and small purple flowers. Regarded a ‘cure-all’ in its native Spain, it too promotes longevity, and protects against all types of infection. Used in treating a range of problems, including acne, cuts, dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, hair loss, gum and mouth infections, arthritis, rheumatism, infertility, colds, headaches, nervous exhaustion, asthma, and laryngitis.

Sage has long been used in smudge-sticks to clear space and banish unwanted energies. Magically it is also used for protection, psychic ability, mental clarity, longevity and wisdom.

! Avoid during Pregnancy and if breast feeding. Not recommended for epileptics !


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