Sage won’t make anyone immortal, but its anti-viral, anti-microbial and drying effects make it essential for alleviating the mucus and phlegm that come with colder weather.
As a culinary herb, it’s safe and easy to chop into soup, but gentleness isn’t weakness. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is helpful for conditions as diverse as skin problems, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and depression.
The dried herb, available in any grocery store, can be made into a tea in a pinch, and the essential oil, the concentrated essence of sage, can help lift mood and clear anxiety.
Like any powerful medicine, it’s vital to know what it can do and to use caution in some instances. Sage is not toxic, but affects that are beneficial in one instance — drying up excessive sweating, for example — can be detrimental in another, such as drying up breast milk in a nursing mother.
Sage Principles For Cold And Flu
Sage is drying and slightly heating, making it perfect for winter colds that are characterized by lots of phlegm or mucus, but not necessarily a fever, said Viji Natarajan, a former pharmaceutical chemist turned Ayurvedic specialist.
Ayurveda is one of humanity’s oldest medical systems, which sees a connection between the outer world and the inner experience; Ayurvedic practitioners can describe anything according to its elemental qualities, and “marry” the qualities of a medical condition to a medicine that would balance out the disease.
The flavor, action, and essence of an herb point to its use, Natarajan said. “Sage is understood to have astringent qualities with a pungent and bitter flavor, and it has drying and slightly heating effects.”
However, she cautions that sage wouldn’t be best for people who are very weak with dry skin or dry coughs, or people with high fevers. Sage is good to dry up excessive moisture, but may exacerbate high fevers and dryness.
However, research does show that sage is anti-microbial and anti-viral, and reduces swelling in swollen lymph nodes, making it a perfect and gentle remedy for colds with lots of phlegm.
“Sage is available as an herb, or as an essential oil, lipids extracted from the herb. Essential oils are quite potent and strong,” said Natarajan. “Herbs are much safer for oral ingestion. If someone was just looking on the internet and wanted to try sage, I’d recommend using the herb, rather than the oil.”
For another way to dry up mucus with sage, herbalist Maia Toll gently heats one cup of honey or agave syrup to make it runny, and then adds just one or two drops of therapeutic-grade essential oil. She puts some of the infused honey in tea.
Balancing Mood, Lifting Depression, And Enhancing Memory
In Ayurveda, some herbs are known to have special qualities, and Natarajan said sage has a unique effect on nerves.
“The easiest way to use sage is to clear fluids, and to clear emotional stuckness,” she said. “It calms and clears the mind — excessive thoughts, fixations, desires and passions. It helps us move forward.”
She recommends adding a few drops of sage oil into a bowl of hot water and inhaling its diffused aroma. “Sometimes, when someone has a cold with heaviness in the head, it can affect the mood and the nervous system. When you diffuse the essential oil, it can clear your nasal passages, and also clear your mind,” she said.
“People use sage to clear energy in rooms — they burn the dried sage leaves in a new house, for example,” she said. “Not being able to do that, diffusing the essential oil has the same effect.”
In fact, studies have validated the traditional use of sage for depression, memory, and mood.
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