Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Salvia officinalis, or sage as it is more commonly known, is native to the Mediterranean but has spread throughout the world. This hardy shrub is a perennial evergreen, recognized by its dusty gray leaves and blue-violet flowers. While sage remains green all year, the flowers typically appear in late spring or early summer. Sage leaves have a distinctively sweet smell and taste, making the plant a popular addition to most herb gardens.
 
Sage is low in cholesterol and sodium and high in dietary fiber. Additionally, two grams of sage provides two percent Vitamin A, three percent Vitamin B6, one percent Vitamin C, forty-three percent Vitamin K, three percent iron, and three percent calcium of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Sage is a good source of fatty acids, with two grams providing 24.6 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids and 10.6 milligrams of Omega-6.
 
Ancient peoples used sage for a variety of medicinal purposes including increasing fertility, treating snakebite and as a local anesthetic. In the Middle Ages sage was included in preparations intended to ward off the black plague.
 
Today sage is used by doctors to treat indigestion, excessive sweating and loss of appetite. It is effective against inflammation throughout the digestive tract and can soothe a variety of digestive ailments. Recent studies indicate that sage may also be helpful in treating and slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease.
 
A natural antibiotic and anti-fungal, sage is often brewed as a tea for homeopathic treatment of infections and other physical ailments. Sage can be applied topically to insect bites and other skin inflammations, as its astringent properties help dry the area and provide relief from itching and discomfort.
 
Sage has been used with success to treat certain forms of depression and has been shown to alleviate menopausal symptoms in some patients. Due to its diuretic properties, sage is also useful as part of an overall weight loss program. Large doses of sage should be avoided by pregnant women and patients with epilepsy, since it can cause serious side effects in these susceptible individuals.