Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Sage: how do you use yours?

For me Sage is an indispensable culinary herb and not only when combined with onion to make a stuffing. We grow two varieties in our garden, Garden Sage (the common green leafed variety) and Purple Sage, which works wonderfully with pork.

Medically, I was well aware of the benefits of infused Sage when used as a gargle to treat coughs and sore throats, but I read recently that Sage had been used by the Ancient Egyptians as a fertility drug. Intrigued I decided to find out more.

The Greek physician Dioscorides reported the aqueous decoction of sage stopped bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. He is also listed as recommending Sage juice infused in warm water for hoarseness and coughs.

Sage leaves were used by medieval herbalists to externally treat sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding. Sage was taken internally for rheumatism, excessive menstrual bleeding, and to dry up a mother's milk when nursing was stopped. Interestingly in the middle ages Sage was particularly noted for strengthening the nervous system, improving memory, and sharpening the senses.

To modern herbalists Sage is known for its natural antiseptic, preservative and bacteria-killing abilities in meat. Volatile oils (distilled from the blossoms) contain the phenolic flavonoids apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin, plus volatile oils such as rosmarinic acid, which can be easily absorbed into the body. Medicinally used for muscle aches, rheumatism, and aromatherapy, these oils also contain ketones, including A- and B-thujone, which enhance mental clarity and upgrade memory, as evidenced by clinical tests comparing tests scores with and without the use of sage. This knowledge has been extremely useful in treating cognitive decline and patients suffering from Alzheimer's.

Sage Blossom
Further reading suggests Sage has been prized for its mental attributes for over 1,000 years. In fact a drink from Sage leaves, has been called the "Thinker's Tea" and is even supposed to ease depression. Given I am at the age when things come and go from memory more or less at will, perhaps it's time I started brewing the odd pot of Thinker's Tea for myself!