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Health Benefits of Sage

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 23:42 Written by 

health benefits of sage acroama blendsBy Justin Penoyer

You'd be a wise sage to add this herb to your recipes. Not only does it have a soft, sweet savory flavor, but for millennia sage has also been prized for its health-promoting qualities.

Sage infusion has long been recognized as "thinker's tea," due in part to its ability to antagonise GABA and Seratonin receptors--thereby enhancing concentration and attention span, and alleviating one's mood (1).

Many historical physicians have praised sage's medicinal qualities. Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic, emmenagogue, and tonic (2).

The famous physician herbalists John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper both wrote about sage. In 1597 John wrote of sage in his foundational encylcopedia Herball, stating that 'It is singularly good for the head and brain and quickeneth the nerves and memory". About fifty years later Culpeper confirmed in his book The English Physician, saying that "It also heals the memory, warming and quickening the senses" (3).

Several species of sage are utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine, including Salvia officinalis. Chinese herbalists use sage medicinally to clear infections, promote circulation, and clear toxic swellings. Sage's reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means "to be saved".

Sage's primary biologically active components derive from its essential oils, consisting chiefly of the ketones α-thujone, and β-thujone. Further, sage leaf contains numerous other chemical compounds including cineol, borneol, and bitter tannic acids such as cornsole and cornsolic acid; fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic and nicotinic acids; nicotinamide; flavones; flavone glycosides and estrogenic substances. These compounds are known to have counter-irritant, rubefacient, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties (4).

While sage helps promote healthy blood flow throughout the body, it has a particular affinitiy for enhancing blood flow to and within the brain. Research has also shown sage to be a memory enhancer, and further studies are being done to investigate its role in brain health and possible treatment options for Alzheimers and demensia. The essential oil obtained from sage has been found to have acetylcholinesterase (Ach) enzyme inhibition activities, which serves to raise Ach levels in the brain. This is significant because Ach improves concentration and may play a role in the treatment methods for memory loss associated with the disease like Alzheimer's (5).

Studies have also revealed that the volatile oils in sage are easily absorbed through the GI tract, where they act as powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that promote healthy mucosal membranes of the gut.

Increased dietary intake of sage  is recommended for persons with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, as well as atherosclerosis and asthma. The high antioxidant activities of sage combat oxidation within the blood and tissues, and even helps to extend shelf life and avoid rancidity of food items.

Nutritionally, sage contains minerals such as potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium, as well as a small amount of B-vitamin complexes and vitamin C.

By Justin Penoyer

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