Herbs and Spices: Sage Tips, Recipes and History

Sage was once considered a medicinal cure-all

Spring of sage on wood
Roland Krieg / Getty Images

Sage is an herb that has a sweet, yet savory flavor. Sage, botanically-known as Salvia officinalis, is native to the Mediterranean region. Sages botanical name comes from the Latin word "salvere," meaning "to be saved." Once prized for its medicinal value, the most popular use of sage these days is in stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. But, as you'll learn, sage is much too good to bring out only for your holiday dinner.

Sage History

In ancient Rome, sage was considered to have substantial healing properties, particularly helpful in the digestion of the ubiquitous fatty meats of the time, and was deemed a part of the official Roman pharmacopeia. At one time, the French produced bountiful crops of sage which they used as a tea. The Chinese became enamored of French sage tea, trading four pounds of Chinese tea to one pound of sage tea. In 812 AD, sage was one of the plants deemed so important that Charlemagne ordered it planted on German Imperial farms, no doubt due to the lucrative trade business as well as for its medicinal popularity.

Nutritional Value of Sage

A tablespoon of sage has 43% of the daily recommended serving of vitamin K. Sage is also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and B vitamins such as folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine, and riboflavin in much higher doses than the recommended daily requirements, as well as healthy amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, and copper.

Sage Uses

In addition to its medicinal properties, sage has been proven to be a natural antiseptic and preservative for meat. Sage has been made into a drink from the leaves, called the "thinker's tea" and has shown promise in treating Alzheimer's patients, as well as treating symptoms of depression.

Three-lobed sage contains the flavone salvigenin which may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Sage has also been proven to improve or eliminate hot flashes in menopausal women. Last, sage can be used as a part of your dental health routine. Not only is it proven to help soothe a sore throat and canker sores, but it can treat gum disease as well.​​

Sage for Hair, Skin, and Nails

Sage can be used externally for your hair, skin, and nails. Used as a rinse, it said to improve texture and tone of hair, as well as leave a nice shine. Sage steeped in water can also be used as a facial toner that controls oily skin. Tea tree oil, basil oil, sage oil, and arrowroot has been found to help vent and treat fungal infection in toe nails.

Learn more about this respected herb in the links below or try some interesting old and new sage recipes.

More About Sage and Sage Recipes:

Sage Selection and Storage
Sage Cooking Tips and Preparation