Common Name: Sage

Botanical Name: Salvia officinalis

Family: Labiatae (Mint) Family

Habitat: Sage is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.  It grows in well-drained soils in sunny areas.  It is currently cultivated throughout temperate North America.

Where Found in Minnesota: Cultivated in gardens.

Parts Used: Leaves.  The root is used in Chinese medicine.

Collection Time: Shortly before or just as it begins to flower in dry sunny weather, May or June.

Preparations (medicinal): Infusion (tonic and liver stimulant, improve digestion, improve circulation, reduce lactation, relieve night sweats during menopause, given as a cold infusion where there is sweating fever and warm to activate its diaphoretic tendency, cleanse old ulcers and wounds), tincture (same as infusion, also used to reduce salivation in Parkinson’s disease), compress (for slow-healing wounds), gargle (sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers, gum disease), hair rinse (dandruff).  The root is prepared as a decoction in Chinese medicine for period pain from blood stagnation, angina, and coronary heart disease.

Energetics: Pungent, bitter, cool/warm, oily, astringent

Actions: Carminative, antispasmodic, astringent, antiseptic, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, uterine stimulant, antibiotic, reduces blood sugar levels, promotes bile flow.

Historical Uses: Traditionally associated with longevity, is considered a memory-enhancing herb.  The purple variety has been considered more effective medicinally than the common green variety.

Uses in Chinese Medicine: The root of the species Salvia miltiorrhiza (dan shen) is used in Chinese medicine mainly for “moving blood” in cases of stagnation.  It is also considered a cooling sedative used to reduce heat in the heart and liver.

Use in Gender Specific or Age Specific Ways: Has a reputation for restoring failing memory in the elderly.

**Cautions: Avoid therapeutic doses in pregnancy.  Dan shen should only be taken where there is a condition caused by blood stagnation.  Thujone, contained in sage, can trigger fits in epileptics and should therefore avoid the herb.  Reduces lactation, therefore shouldn’t be used during breastfeeding.


Wood, Matthew.  The Earthwise Herbal:  A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants.  Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books.  2008.  Print.

Ody, Penelope.  The Complete Medicinal Herbal.  New York, NY:  Dorling Kindersley, Inc.  1993.  Print.

Hutchens, Alma R.  Indian Herbalogy of North America:  The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses.  Boston, Massachusetts:  Shambhala Publications, Inc.  1973.  Print.

Reader’s Digest.  Magic and Medicine of Plants.  Pleasantville, New York:  The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.  1986.  Print.


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