Well it’s that time of year again, time to give thanks for all of our blessings and eat so much that we are in danger of injuring ourselves. :0)
But, before you finish your pie and lie on the couch to succumb to your annual carb coma, take a moment to be grateful for one more thing…that every spice you used in your Thanksgiving meal is also a powerful medicinal plant. Now, while it’s true that baking them in the oven is pretty much devastating to their medicinal powers, it’s still good to know you can put a little aside for medicinal needs instead of stuffing them all into that poor turkey (research shows that herbs stuffed into a turkey and baked have no medicinal benefits for the turkey whatsoever). In this article, we’re going to talk about the most famous Thanksgiving spice of all, Sage.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
In the 1700s, botanist, zoologist and physician Karl Linnaeus developed a new system of giving Latin names to plants and animals that is still in use today. He named thousands of species. When he named sage, he called it Salvia officinalis. The genus name Salvia comes from the Latin word Salvere which means healthy or healing. The Latin species name officinalis is very common among medicinal plants. Comfrey, Calendula, marshmallow, lemon balm and hundreds of others medicinal plants have officinalis or officinale as their species name. Officinalis means from the officina.
And what is the officina you ask?
The officina was the little room in the monastery where the monks kept the medicinal plants. So, as Linnaeus was tromping around Europe naming things, if the plant was medicinal it often got the name officinalis...because that’s where he found it. So sage has a long history as an important medicinal. Indeed, it appears that Linnaeus felt sage’s most notable properties were medicinal rather than culinary.
Sage is in the mint family so, like all mint family members, it has a mission! One night, long ago, the mint family got together to come up with their family mission statement. They then had it embroidered and hung it on the wall of their family room. It said We are the mint family. We want to do things to people’s nervous systems, and we want to kill things. So, yes, most of their neighbors moved away or at least started locking their doors at night.
Sage was on board with killing things (because that’s just fun!) and, like many of the other mints, has good antimicrobial properties. It even has some antiviral properties and is often helpful in cases of colds and the flu. But when it came to what it would do to people’s nervous systems, sage took a different tack. Most of its minty cousins calm or sedate the nervous system (think about lavender, lemon balm, and skullcap) but sage, instead of knocking you out, stimulates improved cognition (for those who haven’t had any sage lately, cognition means thinking). It also improves memory and alertness and may even have some benefits for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. After all, it isn’t named Sage by accident. The ancients knew very well that this plant made them smarter and wiser. I use it in my Memory & Alertness formula which I take regularly to get past 3 in the afternoon without a Mountain Dew and to help me remember some of my grandkids’ names. Sage is often excellent medicine for headaches as well.
Sage also has amazing astringent properties. Astringents are herbs that dry things up and tone tissues. Sage’s astringency is a wonderful boon in cases of diarrhea or even severe dysentery. It’s one of the most important herbs in my diarrhea formula (Colon – Dire Era). It can also reduce the swelling and edema in sore throats. Sage also makes a wonderful sitz bath for post-partum ladies or folks with hemorrhoids.
Sage is also helpful for lowering blood sugars. relieving symptoms of menopause, and lowering cholesterol.
So, as you can see, sage isn’t just for stuffing hapless poultry on national holidays. It’s an amazing plant that should have just as much prestige in your medicine cabinet as it has in your spice drawer.
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