Plants have always been a part of my life. Since I could remember, my father would bring my little sister and I into his small garden. It only took up a small square of land in our backyard but to us it felt like another world. He would spend all day out there, and then come in to teach us about the different vegetables, fruits and herbs he was growing. He knew so much and made sure to share it with his girls. The plants followed us inside, growing from clay pots and glass vases. My mother believed in the holistic elements to certain plants and was always quick to look there first. My parents worked hard to create something to pass on to us, which is why I decided to start the Herb Shop! I want to share where I’m from, where a lot of our medicinal fixes originated from, as well as, shine a light on the multifaceted uses of common plant life that we look past every day.
Salvia officinalis I.e. Sage
Sage has a very long history on this earth. A history that stretches across different cultures and has formed different legends within those lands. “The ancient Greeks and Romans first used sage as a meat preservative. They also believed it could enhance memory. The Roman naturalist Pliny prescribed it for snakebites, epilepsy, intestinal worms, chest ailments and menstruation promotion. The Greek physician Dioscorides considered it a diuretic and recommended sage leaves as bandages for wounds. Around the 10th century, Arab physicians believed sage extended life to the point of immortality. The French called the herb toute bonne, “all’s well”. Charlemagne ordered sage grown in the medicinal herb gardens on his imperial farms” (Castleman. 462 – 463). While sage is a flowering plant, it is mainly the leaves that are sought after.
The sage herb has a variety of medicinal purposes all over the world. Scientific research shows that sage contains hundreds of compounds and antioxidants, most of which may contribute to health and healing. Sage provides a variety of vitamins and minerals: Vitamin B6, Manganese, Vitamin K, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper and Vitamins A, C and E. Since it is often consumed in such small amounts, Sage does not add significant quantities of calories, carbohydrate, protein, or fiber.
Here is a brief list of some health benefits observed with the use of sage:
- Wound treatment
- Digestive aid
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Aids sore throat
- Menstruation promotion
However, sage is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses or for a long time. Some species of sage, such as common sage (Salvia officinalis), contain a chemical called thujone. Thujone can be poisonous if you take too much. This chemical can cause seizures and damage the liver and nervous system. The amount of thujone varies with the species of sage, the time of harvest, growing conditions, and other factors. Taking sage during pregnancy is LIKELY UNSAFE because of the possibility of consuming thujone, a chemical found in some sage. Thujone can bring on a woman’s menstrual period, and this could cause a miscarriage. Avoid sage if you are breast-feeding, too. There is some evidence that thujone might reduce the supply of mother’s milk.
Sage can keep your skin healthy and beautiful. Its plant derived chemical compounds, essential oils, and vitamins make it very beneficial in skin care. The antioxidants in sage reverse the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. Sage oil benefits as a great toner by regulating sebum production in an oily complexion. The antibacterial properties of this amazing herb prevent the occurrence of skin infections. It also possesses antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which help cure acne as well as relieve the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. See this month’s recipe for Rosemary-Sage Skin Toner below:
- 1/2 cup of water
- 5 teaspoons of rosemary
- 5 teaspoons of sage
- 1 Tablespoon of witch hazel
- 5 drops essential oil
- Just like you would make tea, pour 1/2 cup just-boiling water over a mixture of 1.5 teaspoons rosemary and 1.5 teaspoons sage.
- Since you won’t be drinking it, you can cover and steep it longer than usual (I steep it 30-60 minutes).
- And – strain. This allows more of the plants’ medicines to be released.
Recipe of the Day
Sage is a staple herb in various cuisines around the world. Its other names include common sage, garden sage and Salvia officinalis. It belongs to the mint family, alongside other herbs like oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme. Sage has a strong aroma and earthy flavor, which is why it’s typically used in small amounts. Even so, it’s packed with a variety of important nutrients and compounds. A meal cooked with sage can taste delicious and have health benefits. It is a very common ingredient in recipes and speaking of recipes, try this vegetarian dish: Butternut Squash Steaks with Brown Butter–Sage Sauce.
Ingredients Needed (serves 2):
- 1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), preferably one with a long thick neck
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6 sage leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- Cut the neck off of squash; reserve base for another use. Trim the stem off the neck then peel. Resting neck on cut base, cut in half lengthwise, creating two lobes. Trim off outer rounded side of each piece to create two 3/4″-thick steaks (about 6 oz. per steak); reserve trimmed off sides for another use.
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium. Cook squash steaks, turning every 3 minutes, until deeply browned on both sides and fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Add butter, sage, and garlic to skillet, tilt pan toward you so that butter pools on one side, and use a large spoon to continually baste steaks with butter. Cook, basting, until butter is no longer bubbling, smells nutty, and is beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer squash steaks to plates and spoon sauce over.
Castleman, Michael. The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicine’s. Bantam: New York, 1995. Print.