Monday, 9 June 2008

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

The name ‘salvia’ comes from the Latin ‘salvere’ (to save) and indicates the many curative properties of this herb, also giving rise to the well-known saying ‘why should a man die when sage grows in his garden’. The Romans used sage to increase fertility and Italian peasant custom was to eat sage to preserve health –many country people eat the leaves with bread and butter.

A cup of strong infusion should relieve a nervous headache and can be applied to the scalp to darken the hair. Fresh leaves rubbed on the teeth will cleanse and strengthen the gums and dried leaves smoked in pipes have been used as a remedy for asthma. A home remedy for sprains is to bruise a handful of leaves and boil in vinegar for 5 minutes, before applying in a folded napkin as hot as can be bourne.

Sage is good for the mouth and throat – an infusion used as a gargle is especially useful for an ulcerated throat and used as a mouthwash for bleeding gums. It is used for delirium in fevers and for nervous excitement accompanying brain and nervous diseases. It is helpful for women, taken internally for night sweats in menopause and excessive lactation, and is also used in anxiety and depression. It can be used externally for insect bites, as well as the mouth and throat problems cited above.

A pungent, bitter, cool and drying herb with many properties: stimulant, astringent, tonic, carminative, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, oestrogenic.

CAUTION: Toxic in excess; Do not use if pregnant or epileptic

Leaves are picked before flowering and dried for infusions and tinctures.
Harvested May-Sept (leaves picked at midsummer considered the best).

PLEASE NOTE: These notes on the history and use of herbs have been compiled for general interest and are not intended as medical advice, for which you should consult a professional herbalist.

'A Modern Herbal' Mrs M. Grieve FRHS ed. Mrs C. F. Leyel (1973)
'The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal' Penelope Ody MNIMH (1993)
'RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses' Deni Brown (2002)


Cheryl said...

Hi hedgewitch......I love sage, I have just bought the tricolour, very pretty. I have to grow mine in pots because the clay soil and damp conditions here does not suit this herb.
Lots of useful info as usual hedgewitch, some of which I did not know.
This is about the only herb I do not use a lot in cooking. There is of course sage and onion stuffing (very unoriginal). I don't eat meat so that is out for me.
Do you use it in recipes hedgewitch?

Hedgewitch said...

hello cheryl!

I think a lot of herbs quite like pots because of preferring free-draining soil etc. Bet the tricolour one looks nice :-)

Its funny, I don't use sage in cooking that much either, because it has quite a strong flavour and although I like it, it can be overpowering. I tend to use it in specific recipes where it is a main ingredient .. it is VERY good in veggie glamorgan sausages where it goes beautifully with a strong crumbly cheese (will have to post the recipe for you!) The other thing I sometimes make with it is chard-stuffed onions, where you put sage and chard in a bechamel sauce with pine-nuts and use it to fill par-boiled onions, then roast them.

What I do use sage for, though, is as a tea (or gargle) for sore throats. Its really tasty and a strong infusion with a good spoonful of honey melted in it is just the thing.

Sage said...

I like the smell of the plant, have grown in for the last 16 years to have the flowers (beautiful) and the leaves for cooking purposes. Only recently I have started experimenting with its use in other things like creams etc.

Hadn't realised it could be used as a herbal remedy as well. Live and learn..

Hedgewitch said...

welcome sage! the perfect visitor for this post, lol! yes, I love the smell of sage.. after I'd been saying above that I didn't use it in cooking much, I'm about to do a recipe with it tomorrow (a special Fathers' Day meal for my parents). wonderful to meet you .. I enjoyed visiting your blog and seeing round your garden :-)

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