9 Impressive Benefits of Sage

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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This perennial woody herb is unbelievable when it comes to its impact on human health. Scientifically known as Salvia officinalis, sage is closely related to rosemary; they are often considered “sister herbs.” In fact, many of sage’s health benefits are derived from the rosmarinic acid, the organic compound found in rosemary that makes it powerful. Despite many similarities, sage is distinct in that it is actually an evergreen shrub with woody stems and blue-purple flowers found in the Mediterranean region.

The important health benefits of sage include its ability to improve brain function, lower inflammation, prevent chronic diseases, boost the immune system, regulate digestion, alleviate skin conditions, strengthen the bones, slow the onset of cognitive disorders, and prevent diabetes.

What is Sage?

The traditional use of sage in medicine is well-documented and goes back thousands of years. It was initially used for the treatment of snakebite, protecting against evil, boosting female fertility, and other uses – many are based in cultural alternative medicine or are no longer en vogue.

However, modern research has discovered that the impact of sage on the human body can be considerable, which is why it is widely exported around the world and makes its way into recipes from the United States to the Middle East. Typically, it is added to savory dishes due to its peppery flavor and is a key ingredient in many meals and meat-based preparations.

A bunch of fresh sage leaves on a mat

Nutrition Facts

Spices, sage, ground
Serving Size :
Water [g]7.96
Energy [kcal]315
Protein [g]10.63
Total lipid (fat) [g]12.75
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]60.73
Fiber, total dietary [g]40.3
Sugars, total [g]1.71
Calcium, Ca [mg]1652
Iron, Fe [mg]28.12
Magnesium, Mg [mg]428
Phosphorus, P [mg]91
Potassium, K [mg]1070
Sodium, Na [mg]11
Zinc, Zn [mg]4.7
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]32.4
Thiamin [mg]0.75
Riboflavin [mg]0.34
Niacin [mg]5.72
Vitamin B-6 [mg]2.69
Folate, DFE [µg]274
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]295
Vitamin A, IU [IU]5900
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]7.48
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1714.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]7.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]1.87
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.76
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Sage

The combination of culinary uses with its undeniable medicinal impact makes sage valuable for your health. With that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at the health benefits of sage.

Boosts Cognition

The research included in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics has shown that even small amounts of sage extracts, whether inhaled or consumed, can help relieve symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and increase recall abilities and memory retention in people. The brain activity also demonstrates increased concentration and focus on a chosen topic. For young people in school or for those in challenging, intellectually demanding careers, adding a bit of it to your diet may be a subtle, but effective, brain booster. More extensive research is needed to assess the impact of sage on memory and brain function.

Treats Inflammation

A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, claims that sage has the ability to treat many topical diseases that arise out of inflammation.

Chewing on sage leaves is not always the most pleasant remedy, as the flavor can be quite intense, but this is the most effective way to get the organic compounds acting in your system. In many cultures, it is thought that creating a tincture or steeping the leaves – a sage brew – helps relieve inflammation of respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts, you can eliminate that inflammation with this sage brew.

The anti-inflammatory effects on issues such as arthritis and gout, and general inflammation of the cardiovascular system. The flavonoids and phenolic compounds found in it are responsible for these beneficial effects. More recently, studies have indicated that sage may have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in the realm of dentistry.

Antioxidant Properties

Chronic conditions and degenerative diseases can be some of the most debilitating and dangerous health concerns that you face in your life. Many of these are caused by free radicals, the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that attack healthy cells, causing apoptosis or mutation.

According to a study in the Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the antioxidant compounds found in sage – such as rosmarinic acid, luteolin, and apigenin, can work to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from creating oxidative stress in the heart, organ systems, skin, joints, muscles, and even the brain.

Strengthens Immunity

There are some antimicrobial properties that have been identified in sage. While the herb is usually consumed in small quantities, you can create a topical application of sage (salve or tincture) and use it to reduce or prevent bacterial and viral infections that attack the body through the skin. We often think of illness entering through our nose or mouth, but the skin can also be compromised and be used as a gateway for foreign agents. A topical cream or antibacterial routine that includes sage could be an extra line of defense against that sort of illness vector.

Improves Bone Health

One of the most overlooked benefits of sage is its superior level of vitamin K, an essential vitamin for the body that isn’t commonly found in foods. Vitamin K is a crucial element in developing bone density and ensuring the integrity of our bones as we age. If you suffer from early signs of osteoporosis or have lived a rather nutrient-poor, sedentary lifestyle, your bone health is likely low. Adding sage leaves to your diet can increase your vitamin K levels significantly, as a single serving has 27 percent of your daily recommended intake.

Skin Care

A topical salve or a tincture of the plant can be created using sage leaves, which has been shown to be effective against certain skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne. These unsightly blemishes can be quickly soothed and their appearance can be reduced gradually if you regularly apply sage extracts and salves to the inflamed or affected areas.

Health benefits of sage - infographic

Manages Diabetes

According to a research study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2006, sage is an effective herb that assists in the control of diabetes. It contains certain extracts and chemicals that mimic the drugs typically prescribed for managing diabetes, such as metformin. It appears to regulate and inhibit the release of stored glucose in the liver, preventing major fluctuations of blood sugar, which can help to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes or at least manage the condition if it has already manifested.

Aids in Digestion

Rosmarinic acid, found in sage, is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory agent for the stomach, preventing gastric spasms and reducing the occurrence of diarrhea and gastritis. Adding it to your meals may get your entire digestive process back on track and reduce inflammation throughout the gut.

Word of Caution: Although there is not a measurable amount of oxalates or purines, nor is sage considered a typically allergenic herb, it is still in the mint family, so those who suffer from allergic reactions to members of that broad plant family should consult a doctor before adding it to their dietary regimen.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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