Familiar as a culinary herb, sage comes from Spain and Asia Minor. In medieval times it was used as a nervous-system tonic to reduce tics or epilepsy. Because its essential oil has antioxidant properties, the herb was used to preserve food. In ancient Crete, the burning leaves were inhaled to relieve asthma. Only a few of the many sage species are distilled. We've made wonderful hydrosol from some of the rare ones, such as pineapple sage.
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Extraction: Distilled from leaves. The odor is spicy, sharp and very herby. An oleoresin is produced from the exhausted material.
Medicinal Action: Sage, a decongestant with strong antiseptic properties, treats throat and mouth infections. It also has hormonal action (estrogenic), regulating the menstrual cycle, decreasing lactation and alleviating menopause symptoms.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Reduces perspiration, oily skin, and acne, and is said to encourage hair growth.
Emotional Attribute: Sage helps those suffering from nervous debility, excessive sexual desire, grief, physical overexertion and insomnia. It encourages "inward focus." Gerard said of sage, "It is singularly good for the head, brain . . . it quickeneth the senses, memory."
Considerations: Contains thujone, a neurotoxic ketone, so avoid this oil for anyone prone to seizures. Sage is harsh and irritating on the skin, so use low dilutions.
Spanish Sage (S. lavandulaefolia) --Less toxic and irritating than common sage. The distinctive lavender fragrance is so strong it is often mistaken for lavender. Use for acne, eczema and dermatitis, or to help relieve arthritis, poor circulation and the flu.
(Also see clary sage.)