The plants harvested for sage essential oil belong to the Salvia genus. The most common strains used for oil are Salvia pratensis (clary sage), Salvia lavandulifolia (Spanish sage), and Salvia officinalis (common sage). Common sage originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe, where it has long been popular as a flavorful herb.
Sage has long been valued in traditional medicine. It has been used to treat a wide range of ailments including coughs, asthma, bronchitis, angina, inflammation, depression, digestive and circulation disorders as well as other diseases in communities across the globe.
For many native communities in North America, bundles of sage and other aromatic elements are burned in the practice of ‘smudging’ for spiritual, medicinal, and practical purposes.
It's unsafe to ingest large amounts of sage essential oil. Ground sage, when eaten as an herb, is typically consumed in very small quantities.
One teaspoon of ground sage contains:
- Calories: 2
- Protein: 0.1 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0.4 grams
- Fiber: 0.3 grams
Ground sage also contains several vitamins and minerals, with the most prominent being calcium and iron. However, because sage is eaten in small amounts these micronutrients may occur in low levels when consumed.
Potential Health Benefits of Sage Oil
There have been a number of studies conducted on the health benefits of sage essential oil such as:
In a study, clary sage essential oil was applied to Staphylococcus (bacteria that causes staph infection) cultivated from infected wounds. The results showed the oil has anti-staphylococcus properties that can treat a staph infection. Other studies have shown that sage essential oil is potentially effective against other diseases causing organisms such as, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, and Bacillus subtilis. Finally, this oil was tested against the SARS virus in vitro, however, in that case it was found to be only mildly effective.
In early research using rats, clary sage oil was administered either via injection or inhalation to test for antidepressant effects. The study determined that clary sage oil may have an anti-stressor effect on the animals. The study’s authors proposed that research into clary sage oil may produce promising results for the treatment of depression, however, it is too soon to conclude if this may result in humans as well.
Traditional medicine has long used sage as a treatment for mental decline. Modern studies have shown that both common sage and Spanish sage essential oil may in fact be beneficial for improving memory and cognition. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these oils may also help protect against further progression of dementia.
Potential Risks of Sage Oil
Essential oils are popularly thought of as safe because they are natural. However, many essential oils can contain naturally potent and harmful compounds. Sage essential oil is no exception and can result in the following health risks:
Sage Oil Poisoning
When sage essential oil was administered in clinical trials, it has been at low amounts under tight controls for extraction and dilution since ingesting it carries a risk of poisoning. Even very small amounts of sage essential oil, when ingested by children, has been known to cause seizures.
Any essential oil carries the risk of causing an allergic reaction. Mild allergy symptoms include itchiness or tingling, shortness of breath, coughing, hives, and lightheadedness. A severe reaction may lead to anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening.