We have long known about Sage's medicinal properties. Its Latin name is Salvia officinalis. The word Salvia means “to heal”.
Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilisations recognised Sage's healing powers.
During the middle ages, sage was considered a sacred herb. It had the nickname “Sage the Saviour”
Nicholas Culpepper in his 1653 book Culpepper’s Complete Herbal also admired its healing ability. He states that it “Helps the memory, quickening the senses and helps lethargy and lowness of spirits”
Today a quick PubMed search found over 11 thousand entries! So it is a well-researched herb. I thought I would walk you through the results of just 3 of these studies as they are specific to menopause
The first one was called: "The effect of Salvia officinalis extract on symptoms of flushing, night sweat, sleep disorders, and score of forgetfulness in postmenopausal women". This 2020 study included 66 post-menopausal women who used the gold standard of testing, a double-blind randomised control placebo trial. They gave the intervention group 100mg sage tablets three times a day for 3 months. Their conclusion was that sage extract improved menopausal symptoms such as flushing, night sweats, heart palpitation, muscle and joint pain, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and sexual desire.
The next study was called "The Effects of Salvia officinalis extract on the menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women". This 2019 randomised control study, involved 30 postmenopausal women (aged 46-58) who were given 100mg capsules of dried sage extract for 4 weeks. It was a much lower dose and a shorter time frame than the other trial discussed but the results were still promising. They found the severity of hot flashes, night sweats, panic, fatigue, and concentration had significantly improved.
The final study we are going to look at is an older one from 2011, called "First time proof of sage’s tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes", they used a fresh sage extract. Resulting in a 50% reduction in hot flush intensity and frequency after just 4 weeks and a 64% improvement after 8 weeks.
These results sound very encouraging but I want to recommend you speak to your health care practitioner before starting sage in the supplement form. But feel free to start adding it to your diet or adding the oil to your infuser.
Sage is NOT for everyone. Please consult with your health care provider before starting it. Sage has many cautions and I will discuss a few of them as we break down the possible benefits.
Sage contains many polyphenol substances, flavonoids, terpenoids, and essential oils.
In regards to menopause,
Sage is a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens have a similar shape to estrogen and can bind to estrogen receptors and have an estrogen-like effect.
It is also an emmenagogue, emmenagogues are any substance that can stimulate or regulate menstrual flow. If you are post-menopausal it will not create a menstrual flow but if you are peri-menopausal it may help smooth out the cycles you have left. It may also ease premenstrual symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Caution if you are peri-menopausal and hoping to squeeze in a pregnancy before it's too late, this herb is not for you. Emmenagogues can also be abortifacient herbs. Sage contains thujone which may be linked with miscarriage and in breastfeeding it may reduce your milk supply.
The primary use in menopause is excessive sweating. It has anti-perspiration effects. Sage may reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of hot flushes and night sweats
Due to its anti-spasmodic qualities, it can reduce the severity and duration of menstrual cramps for those still with a cycle.
Sage is also for wisdom, cognition, attention, alertness, and memory.
Its anxiolytic qualities help ease anxiety, lift your mood, and calm your mind
In regards to general health,
It may help reduce all forms of inflammation including muscular and joint inflammation.
It has antimicrobial qualities and may help ease mouth ulcers, sore throats, coughs and improve overall respiratory health
It may improve your digestion by reducing heartburn, bloating, and easing constipation
Sage helps balance blood sugar levels, caution is you are diabetic only take this herb under direct medical supervision.
May improve cholesterol levels and heart health. If you are on cholesterol or blood pressure medication this needs to be closely monitored while taking Sage.
It is also a natural antimicrobial.
There are other cautions with Sage we didn’t discuss but the most important one I wanted to mention before moving on is seizures. Do not take Sage if you experience seizures as it may act as a trigger for an event.
There are so many ways to add sage to your life. You can use it as an herb in cooking. Herbal tea can be made from either fresh or dried herb, you can take a liquid tincture or buy it in a supplement. Inhale the essential oil or burn a sage stick. Warning do not take the Sage essential oil internally it is only for topical or inhaled use.
Inhaled it is known to help balance, and uplifted your mood while enhancing focus, memory, and cognition.
Topically it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects and may help heal minor scrapes, fungal skin conditions, diminish acne, reduce swelling or stretch marks. It may also help slow the appearance of aging. It’s not recommended to use on open cuts.
I think it's very interesting that burning sage sticks in your home is linked to cleansing and renewing the energy in that room, certain spiritual practices believe it also has a positive influence on your lifeforce. It is believed to encourage mindfulness and cleanse the mind of negative self-talk. During the menopausal transition, it may help energetically renews us for this new stage of our lives.
Ruth Trickey in her wonderful book “Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle”. Describes her own homemade Sage remedy.
It goes like this:
Chop 6 fresh sage leaves and soak overnight in lemon juice. In the morning, strain and drink the juice. 7-10 of this mixture will usually control flushing and sweating, and also improve digestion and concentration. Ruth recommends that it should not be continued for longer than 2 weeks without a break.
Zeidabadi A, Yazdanpanahi Z, Dabbaghmanesh MH, Sasani MR, Emamghoreishi M, Akbarzadeh M. The effect of Salvia officinalis extract on symptoms of flushing, night sweat, sleep disorders, and score of forgetfulness in postmenopausal women. J Family Med Prim Care. 2020;9(2):1086-1092. Published 2020 Feb 28.
Fereshteh Dadfar and Kourosh Bamdad. The Effects of Saliva officinalis extract on the menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women: An RCT. Int J Reprod Biomed, 2019 April: 17 (4): 287-292
Bommer, S., Klein, P. & Suter, A. First time proof of sage’s tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Adv Therapy 28, 490–500 (2011)