Know Your Herbs: Sage

Know Your Herbs: Sage

Do you have sage growing in your kitchen or backyard herb garden yet? I should certainly hope so. Despite being one of the primary ingredients of classic Mediterranean, Arabic, and Turkish cooking, sage is often forgotten from the herb garden line up. There’s a reason why it has its name in all the history books – sage’s name comes from Latin word “salvere,” which literally translates to “to save.” Not only does it have numerous health benefits and curative properties, but it might very well be the herb to save your kitchen from routine and boredom.


Sage has a savoury-sweet flavour that complements a wide variety of flavour palettes. For hundreds of years, British historical documents have reflected the omnipresence of sage in traditional cooking. Nowadays you will most often find sage in holiday cafes throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. Sage goes hand-in-hand with special, seasonal use, and this may well be the reason why it is neglected during the rest of the year. It is not just about flavour – sage will soothe a digestive upset, meaning holiday turkey and stuffing recipes have evolved to include their own cooked-in anti-indigestion medicine. This classic combination began with the arrival of European settlers in North America. However, you don’t have to overeat to enjoy the many benefits of sage.


It has long been believed, by a number of European, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, that sage can assist you in reaching a ripe old age in tip-top health. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans employed sage in times of illness, believing that it could cleanse the body and wash away the root cause of sickness. Indian and European medical practitioners once utilised sage to alleviate breathing disruptions such as respiratory infections, congestion, and asthma.


Unlike other similarly powerful herbal remedies, sage is not tied to any widely believed myths, legends, or religious tales. Rather, it has maintained an air of earthly practicality. Herbalists and other proponents of alternative medicine continue to recommend sage as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory ailments, throat and mouth sores, and even symptoms associated with menstruation and menopause.


Modern science has confirmed few of the longstanding claims surrounding sage’s capabilities, but the reputation persists. For the time being, the sparse research that has been conducted does seem to demonstrate that regular consumption of sage’s essential oils can improve memory over time, as well as ward off neurological disorders affecting memory, such as Alzheimer’s. The same essential oils have also shown antimicrobial and antibacterial activity in laboratory trials, indicating that they could indeed play a role in the treatment of mild sickness.  


People have relied on sage for thousands of years, and we can still rely on it today. Sage, being an evergreen herb, will happily survive the colder months here in Australia; it will be ready and waiting for a good harvest come springtime.  Whether or not you choose to harvest sage for homemade herbal remedies, your herb garden will certainly benefit from the charming beauty of its soft, fuzzy leaves, colourful blooms, and pleasant fragrance.