Herbivore: The Scoop on Sage
Yes, it’s delicious in turkey stuffing, but there’s more to sage than the Thanksgiving feast! This gray-green plant has a long history of medicinal and therapeutic use. Here are some interesting facts about sage’s history, lore and modern uses.
From its roots in ancient Egypt, where it was used as a fertility aid, to the Celtic belief that sage increases wisdom, sage has been one of the most sought-after herbs for thousands of years. In fact, some ancient cultures believe that sage could prevent aging altogether! No wonder sage’s botanical name, Salvia, is derived from the Latin word for “to heal.” And the word sage can also mean “wise.”
Even today many people perform the ancient ritual of “smudging” a home or other kind of dwelling with smoldering sage. The smoke is said to cleanse the air, clear away negative vibes and replace them with positive, healing energy.
As a member of the mint family, this highly aromatic herb packs a lot of flavor and is said to assist with digestion, which may be why it works so well paired with fatty foods. It pairs well with poultry, lamb and eggs and is delicious baked in biscuits or infused into oils or butter. Sage is best used fresh.
Today herbalists recommend the use of sage for cramps, gas and bloating. Its oils have antibacterial properties, making sage effective for fighting infections. Its leaves are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can be useful for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Sage tea is also thought to be soothing for sore throats.
Culinary sage — also called garden sage or common sage — is easy to grow. It loves containers and isn’t particularly susceptible to pests and disease. Sage does best in a warm (but not extremely hot), sunny location and is most vulnerable to overwatering. Make sure your sage gets plenty of direct light and prune it every so often to keep the plant looking good and thriving.