Amazing Sage Uses and Benefits Beyond the Crockpot

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Sage is a wonderful garden plant with which you may not be familiar. Listen in as Julie discusses historic and modern sage uses.Sage is a wonderful garden plant with which you may not be familiar. Listen in as Julie discusses historic and modern sage uses.

Historic Sage Uses

Salvia officinalis comes from the Latin word “salvere,” meaning “to be saved.” Records of sage uses go as far back as ancient Egypt, where it was used to promote fertility in women. Perhaps it was clary sage that they used as other species aren’t used that way by any other culture. For example, the ancient Greeks used sage to treat snake bites. In addition, they thought that eating it made one wise and that its very garden presence brought long life.

How the Romans Used Sage

The Romans had sage uses in several areas of life. They revered it so much that just cutting it involved wearing special clothing, ceremonial foot washing, and the use of a special knife. Roman scientists had noticed that if they used iron, it changed the chemical composition of the plant. Women cooked with it because they believed it helped them better digest fatty meats. They also hung it on bedposts because they believed it promoted fidelity.  But, their most important sage uses were in medicinal use. It was considered by Dioscorides, Nero’s military physician, to be one of the most important herbs of the time, appearing in the official Roman pharmacopeia. The herb was used to heal ulcers, stop the bleeding of wounds, soothe a sore throat, and for ulcers.

Listen in on the podcast to hear more about Native American and Celtic uses of sage. It’s not what you think!

Sage in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the French became well-known for their crops of sage and traded it all over the known world, even as far as China. The Chinese loved sage tea so much, they traded four pounds of Chinese tea for every one pound of sage tea. Many people in China used sage to treat colds, joint pain, typhoid fever, and kidney and liver issues.


During the reign of Charlemagne, sage was planted widely by order of the king. And, in one of his schools, sage was one of 100 plants grown on the property. Even today, monasteries are required to grow it, it is such an important medicinal herb. In fact, sage was one of sixteen herbs used for therapies and played a key role in drug preparations of medieval times.

Learn more on the podcast!

Growing Sage and Sage Uses in Food

Sage is an integral part of making bread stuffing for turkey and pork. Another common sage use is in making sausage. It adds a nice flavor to cheeses, butters, and roasted root veggies, too. Due to its ability to kill harmful bacteria, it has also been used to keep meats fresh when there was limited or no refrigeration.

This pretty perennial garden plant has velvety grey-green leaves and square stems. Depending on the variety of sage you grow, the color of the flowers varies. It is a bit bushy and can be grown in pots. If you want to grow sage, remember it is a lot like other members of the mint family to which it belongs. It is native to the Mediterranean, just like thyme and oregano. So, plant in full sun in well-drained soil. Remember, these plants don’t like wet soil. Sage can take a while to sprout, so it may be better to grow it from a small plant. Watch out for mildew with sage.

Modern Uses and Discoveries

Sage essential oil contains salvene, pinene, and cineol; borneol, esters, and thujone. Some varieties also contain cedrene and salviol. Its actions are stimulant, antispasmodic, astringent, tonic, and carminative. It has been used as a mouthwash and gargle for oral complaints. It has also been used internally for fevers, blood cleanser, digestive complaints especially regarding the stomach, and also for nervous headache. Julie talks more about the essential oil on the podcast. Only one tablespoon of this herb provides 43% of RDI for vitamin K. It is also a significant source of vitamin A, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Do not use during pregnancy or lactation, do not use oil with children under age 10, and avoid prolonged use of the essential oil.

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