Out of the many health benefits of sage, the most important include its ability to improve brain function, lower inflammation throughout the body, prevent chronic diseases, boost the strength of the immune system, regulate proper digestion, alleviate skin conditions, increase the strength of bones, slow the onset of cognitive disorders, and prevent the onset of diabetes.
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What is Sage?
Don’t let the name of “common” sage or garden sage fool you; this perennial woody herb is anything but normal or average when it comes to its impact on human health. Scientifically known as Salvia officinalis, sage is closely related to rosemary, and 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 so powerful. It does have its differences and is actually an evergreen shrub with woody stems and blue/purple flowers that are found in the Mediterranean region.
The traditional use of sage in medicine is well-documented and stretches back thousands of years. It was initially used for the treatment of snakebite, protecting against evil, boosting female fertility, and other uses that are no longer en vogue or relied on.
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 it into recipes from the United States to the Middle East. Typically, it is added to savory dishes due to its slightly peppery flavor and is a key ingredient in many holiday meals and meat-based preparations. The combination of these culinary uses with its undeniable medicinal impact makes sage very valuable for human health. With that in mind, let’s take a more in-depth look at the health benefits of sage.
Health Benefits of Sage
Health benefits of this herb include the following:
Research has shown that even small amounts of sage, whether smelled or consumed, can increase recall abilities and memory retention in subjects. The brain activity also demonstrates increased concentration and focus on a chosen topic, which means that 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.
Chewing on sage leaves is not always the most pleasant remedy, as the flavor can be quite intense, but this may be the most effective way to get the organic compounds acting in your system the fastest. Creating a tincture or steeping leaves can also do the trick, but if you suffer from inflammatory issues, particularly in the respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts, you can eliminate that inflammation with this sage brew. The anti-inflammatory qualities of sage extend to health issues such as arthritis and gout, as well as general inflammation of the cardiovascular system, which can result in heart disease and increased blood pressure. The flavonoids and phenolic compounds found in it are responsible for these beneficial effects.
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 health issues are caused by free radicals, the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that attack healthy cells, causing apoptosis or mutation. Antioxidant compounds found in sage, such as rosmarinic acid, luteolin, and apigenin, can all work to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from creating oxidative stress in the heart, organ systems, skin, joints, muscles, and even the brain.
As mentioned above, sage does have the ability to stimulate brain function to improve memory and concentration; however, it also works to eliminate cognitive disorders that may arise, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Although research into these applications is still in the relatively early stages, it is exciting to see real strides being taken with herbal alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment. The neural pathways stimulated by the extracts and essential oils of sage can keep the mind fresh and youthful well into your older ages.
Immune System Strength
There are some antimicrobial properties that have been identified in sage, and while it is usually consumed in relatively small quantities, you can create a topical application of sage (salve or tincture) and use it to 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.
One of the most overlooked benefits of sage is actually its superior level of vitamin K, an essential vitamin for the body that isn’t found in many common 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 service has 27% of your daily recommended intake.
A topical salve can be created using sage leaves or a tincture of the plant that 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 area.
There may be some debate about the efficacy of sage on certain health conditions explained above, but when it comes to diabetes, there is widespread agreement. It contains certain extracts and chemicals that mimic the drugs typically prescribed for managing diabetes. 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
The rosmarinic acid found in sage acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in many parts of the body, even in the stomach, where it prevents gastric spasms and can significantly lower the occurrence of diarrhea and gastritis for patients suffering from the uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions. Adding it to your meals can 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 still consult a doctor before adding it to your dietary or supplementation regimen.