Sage is a herb well known since ancient times and mentioned among others by Dioscorides, Aetios, Hippocrates and Galen. All of them praised sage, and used it as a tonic for the mind and body.
Greeks considered it a sacred herb and dedicated it to Zeus. Women in ancient Greece welcomed men after the war with a drink from sage to stimulate fertility. Dioscorides recommended it for bleeding and for menstrual disorder. It was well known to Romans as well and they were the ones who brought it Britain. The Arabs say "How can a man who has sage in his garden die?"
The Chinese, who for centuries have developed a unique system of traditional medicine based on herbs, call it the "Greek sprout" and consider it better than tea. In the Middle Ages they exchanged three times the quantity of the best quality tea with a small amount of sage.
The French also call it Greek tea, and use it just like other Europeans, not only for medical but also for culinary purposes.
Sage has a strong aromatic odor and is cultivated for its medicinal properties, as beverage and seasoning. It is also used in perfumery.
Sage is a herb endowed with many therapeutic substances and properties, such as antibacterial, antiseptic, cardiotonic, anticonvulsant, antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-diabetic.
Sage has been used since ancient times to treat colds, diarrhea, enteritis and sore throats.
As a decoction it is ideal for treating pharyngitis, laryngitis, gingivitis, thrush and various oral infestations. It also has tonic properties for the body and stimulates the nervous system because of the tannin content. It helps memory and blood circulation.
The sage is good for the stomach and antipyretic with antiperspirant properties for hyperhidrosis of the hands, body and night sweats. For these reasons, it is considered suitable for sweats and hot flashes during menopause. Finally it reduces intestinal gases, it is diuretic and promotes μenstruation, while according to recent studies, it helps in hyperlipidemia.
The characteristic substance contained in its essential oil are the alpha and beta thujone. It also contains saponins, bitter substances, terpenes, resins, bitter diterpenes, tannins, triterpenes and flavonoids.
There is evidence that sage contains antioxidants. The presence of antioxidants in the diet may be one way of addressing several diseases such as cerebral dysfunction (e.g. in Alzheimer) (Perry et al., 1999), cancer, cardiac disease as well as the deficiency of the immune system that can arise from cell damage due to the action of free radicals.
Very important is the fact that in aqueous and alcoholic extracts of sage exist substances with antimicrobial activity. These substances are used to treat diseases such as chronic bronchitis. Additionally, agents identified as the triterpenes, oleanolic and ursolic acid or carnosol diterpene acid have antiinflammatory activity (Baricevic et al., 2001).
Sage, known to us for many centuries, continues to be the focus of scientific research. All properties of sage are confirmed in the latest edition of the journal "Pharmacology - Biochemistry and Behavior" which published the results of research conducted by British scientists and universities NEWCASTLE and NORTHUMBRIA. New research has shown that sage as beverage significantly enhances and restores memory.
In cooking it is used to add flavour in food with meat and various broths. Its taste is quite spicy and goes with fatty meats and cheeses. It also goes with fish and seafood.
Method of brewing: Βoil a teaspoon of dried leaves in a pot of water, strain and drink hot or cold depending on the season. If you boil for too long the leaves, the bitter substances in decoction rise and the flavor becomes unpleasant.
Sage, is not recommended for epileptics, since it contains thujone which can trigger seizure. It is also prohibited during pregnancy. Breast-feeding mothers are advised to avoid it because it gives milk a bitter taste.