Sage is a Wise Addition for Health, Memory, more.

Sage is a Wise Addition for Health, Memory, more.

Is sage the healthiest food on the planet?

After a break to deal with a family illness, I returned and decided to finish this post I was working on about one of my favorite herbs, sage. Being of Greek descent, sage is well-known to me, and is globally reknowned both as food and as medicine.  Sage is an herb native to the mediterranean, belonging to the Lamiaceae (mint) family, along with oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme and basil. The sage plant has gray-green edible leaves and beautiful flowers that vary in color.

Not just delicious in cooking, it has one of the longest histories of medicinal use for ailments ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort. I find it amazing that for well over a thousand years, sage has been used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease. It really has been widely utilized. In the tenth century, Arab physicians actually believed it promoted immortality! At one point it was so popular it became a form of currency in some parts of the world.

In English we use the word to mean wise. The latin is Salvia Officinalis, deriving from the verb to be saved, whence derives its reputation as a panacea. After studying the plant in depth, it is certainly true that ingesting sage is good advice for a number of reasons. Research studies have shown some remarkable effects from consuming sage regularly, which only serves to reinforce what traditional medicine has espoused for years. In 2001, it was awarded "Herb of the Year" by the International Herb Association.

Sage as a powerful anti-oxidant.

One of the things that first fascinated me about this plant was its ability to fight oxidation. While it has been long noticed that sage has a preservative effect, science is now understanding how this actually works. Sage, like some other members of the mint family, contains rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant, as well as superoxide dismutase and peroxidase, antioxidant enzymes that when combined, synergize to give the plant a unique ability to stabilize and protect oxygen-related metabolism. Rosmarinic acid research shows that it acts to reduce inflammatory responses in the body by modifying inflammatory messaging molecules such as leukotriene B4. This explains why sage has been traditionally and successfully used for inflammatory issues like arthritis and asthma.

In fact, sage is so good at protecting against inflammation and oxidation that some companies are studying it for use as a preservative in cooking oils because it extends the shelf-life and prevents it rancidness. So if you are looking to protect your own body against the damage from oxidation and free radicals, adding sage to your regular diet is good advice.

Sage for better brain function and memory recall.

Even more interestingly from recent studies is the ability of sage to actually make your brain function better.  A study published in Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior reinforced the use of sage as a memory enhancer. People in the test group of the study were given extract of sage and then tested for cognitive function each hour for 6 hours afterward. Clear evidence was found that sage effectively improved short term recall.

Further research done at King's College (October 24, 2003) showed that Chinese sage contains active compounds that are remarkably similar to those found in Alzheimer's disease drugs.  Interestingly, the type of memory loss that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease involves an increase in acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the brain, which results in its depletion and is usually seen along with amyloid plaque foundation.  Typically, Alzheimer’s drugs work to inhibit the increase in AchE activity, which is the same effect that sage has, making it a viable alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore, in a study of diabetics, consumption of sage was found to lower fasting glucose, as well as HbA1c, total cholesterol, bad cholesterol levels, and triglycerides, while also raising good cholesterol levels. There is ample evidence at this point that sage has well deserved its reputation for a being an important health booster in varied ways.

And sage is full of flavor.

Best of all, sage is a delicious herb to add to food, making it easy to embrace. Some of my favorite recipes include sage, especially pork and apple together. My Greek aunt made a sage risotto that was so delicious and I am generally not much of a risotto fan.  For something unusual but yummy, try adding some sage crumbs to a mac and cheese dish. I was surprised at how well it elevated the flavor. It also pairs well with beans, omelettes, tomatoe dishes, and even pizza.

So not only is it easy to get sage into your regular diet, but it is also an excellent addition to a health supplement. We use sage as a key ingredient in our GREEN 33 daily vegetables supplement. It is safe and has no side effects or known interactions. (Still, it is always wise to include your doctor in dietary health decisions if you are taking any drugs.)

Obviously from a scientific standpoint, we still need more evidence, but it there are still many reasons why sage may very well be the healthiest food you can eat. If you want to ensure good health and wellbeing, make the herb of wisdom a part of your regimen.

Related Posts:
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References:

  • al-Sereiti MR, Abu-Amer KM, Sen P. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials. Indian J Exp Biol 1999 Feb;37.
  • Houghton P. Sage, alternative treatment to Alzheimer's drug. Research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Harrogate, September 15-17, 2003.
  • Tildesley NT, Kennedy DO, Perry EK, Ballard CG, Savelev S, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Salvia lavandulaefolia  enhances memory in healthy young volunteers. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):669-74. 2003.
  • Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000 Mar; 7.
  • Malencic D, Gasic O, Popovic M, Boza P. Screening for antioxidant properties of Salvia reflexa hornem. Phytother Res 2000 Nov;14(7):546-8. 2000.


The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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