Sage: 5 Impressive Health Benefits

Sage is a member of the mint family. It offers many health benefits, including antioxidant properties, memory enhancement, blood sugar management, and heart health promotion.
Sage Tea

What is Sage

Sage, scientifically known as Salvia officinalis, is a member of the mint family, including favorites like oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme [1]. With its robust aroma and deep, earthy flavor, sage is typically used in small doses, yet it's loaded with essential nutrients and active compounds.

Sage's origin goes back to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Still, it is remarkably adaptable and has spread across the globe over centuries, thriving in various climates thanks to its resilient nature.

Beyond the kitchen, sage has a rich history in traditional medicine, where it's been used to address a range of conditions, from seizures and ulcers to gout and rheumatism.

It's also known for its effectiveness against inflammation and high blood sugar, with historical records and modern pharmacological studies confirming its therapeutic benefits.

Nutritional Profile

Sage is surprisingly nutritious, and just a teaspoon of ground sage, weighing about 0.7 grams, delivers [2]:

  • Calories: 2
  • Protein: 0.1 grams
  • Carbs: 0.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Fiber: 0.3 grams

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, this little teaspoon is mighty, especially with vitamin K. It provides 10% of your daily needs. There's also a touch of iron and vitamin B6, along with calcium and manganese. However, each is less than 1% of your daily value; every bit counts.

While sage is only used in tiny quantities, it still contributes a little to your magnesium, zinc, copper, and vitamins A, C, and E intake [2].

But sage is more than just a source of vitamins and minerals. This aromatic herb is also a source of potent compounds like caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, rosmarinic acid, ellagic acid, and rutin, all known for their health benefits [3]. So, even in small doses, sage offers a lot!

Let’s take a look at some of this herb’s notable benefits.

1. Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are vital molecules that boost your body's defenses by neutralizing free radicals, which, if left unchecked, can cause chronic diseases [4].

Sage is a powerhouse in this regard, boasting more than 160 different polyphenols. These plant-based chemical compounds work as antioxidants, helping protect your body [5].

Research indicates that sage's compounds may offer anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits.

One intriguing study showed that consuming just over one cup (300 ml) of sage tea twice daily can have significant health benefits [6]. Participants saw an increase in blood levels of antioxidant enzymes.

Additionally, their total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels dropped while "good" HDL cholesterol levels increased, showcasing sage's potential as a beneficial addition to a healthy diet.

2. Boosting Memory and Brain Health

Sage is a potent brain booster. It is packed with compounds that act as antioxidants, helping to fortify the brain's defenses [7] [8].

It also plays a crucial role in memory preservation by slowing the breakdown of acetylcholine, a vital brain chemical that tends to decline in Alzheimer's disease [9].

In one study, participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease took either 60 drops (about 2 ml) of sage extract or a placebo every day for four months.

Those who used the sage extract showed improved scores on tests measuring memory, problem-solving, and other cognitive skills [10].

These benefits are not limited to individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Sage has proven effects in healthy adults as well.

Even at low doses, it can enhance memory, while higher doses have been shown to boost mood and increase feelings of attention, calmness, and happiness[11].

A 2021 study further supported these findings, demonstrating that healthy individuals who took 600 mg of sage extract daily for two weeks experienced significant improvements in working memory compared to those on a placebo [12].

3. Blood Sugar Management

Studies show that sage, a common herb traditionally used as a diabetes remedy, has promising potential for lowering blood sugar levels.

One study demonstrated that sage extract can reduce blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes. This effect is thought to occur by activating a specific receptor that helps eliminate excess free fatty acids, enhancing insulin sensitivity [13].

Similarly, sage tea has been compared to metformin—a medication commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes—in its ability to manage blood sugar in diabetic subjects [14].

Additionally, another study demonstrated that sage leaf extract reduced blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity, mirroring the effects of rosiglitazone, another drug used to treat diabetes [15].

A meta-analysis covering three trials showed that sage significantly lowered fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels, essential markers of blood sugar control [16].

4. Heart Health Promotion

Every 33 seconds, heart disease claims a life in the US, making it a critical health issue.

One significant risk factor for heart disease is high "bad" LDL cholesterol, which affects more than half of American adults [17].

Sage might be part of the solution. It's known for potentially lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol, which can accumulate in arteries and lead to damage.

One study found that drinking sage tea twice daily reduced "bad" LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol, all within just two weeks [18].

Other human studies have shown similar cholesterol-improving effects from sage extract, suggesting that sage could be beneficial to a heart-healthy lifestyle [19].

5. Women's Health Support

Menopause marks a time when the body naturally reduces its production of the hormone estrogen, leading to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, excessive sweating, vaginal dryness, and irritability.

Common sage has been traditionally used to alleviate these menopause symptoms [20].

Sage compounds are thought to mimic estrogen, enabling them to attach to specific receptors in the brain. This action is believed to help with memory improvement and treat symptoms like hot flashes and excessive sweating [21].

In an eight-week study, 71 menopausal women reported a 64% reduction in the severity and frequency of hot flashes after taking a daily tablet of fresh sage [22].

Safety and Side Effects

Sage's potent scent comes from a compound called thujone, which can be harmful in large doses [23].

Consuming high quantities of sage tea or other forms of sage over a prolonged period may lead to heart issues, seizures, vomiting, and kidney damage if you exceed 3–7 grams of thujone per day [24].

However, sage tea only contains 4–11 mg of thujone per 4 cups (1 liter), so you can safely enjoy several cups daily with minimal risk of thujone toxicity [25].

In other words, sage tea is safe when consumed in moderate quantities. If you have any concerns, it's best to seek advice from your physician beforehand.

Conclusion

Sage is a versatile herb celebrated for its robust aroma and numerous health benefits.

It is a nutrient-rich plant that contributes to brain health, blood sugar management, heart health, and menopause symptom relief.

Including sage in your diet, whether as a culinary herb or a tea, can offer significant health advantages, making it a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Additional Readings

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References

[1]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29034191/

[2]https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170935/nutrients

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634728/

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347016/

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8517838/

[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19865527/

[7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28489058/

[8]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28301805/

[9]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12895683/

[10]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12605619/

[11]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15639154/

[12]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33466627/

[13]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20696231/

[14]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16923227/

[15]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29333341/

[16]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35106985/

[17]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559182/

[18]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19865527/

[19]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21506190/

[20]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567565/

[21]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567565/

[22]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21630133/

[23]https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/sage

[24]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23201408/

[25]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21777420/

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†Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for individual medical advice.

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