6 Surprising Preparedness Uses for Sage

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Sage. One whiff of it and I’m ready for Thanksgiving turkey and homemade stuffing. But while it’s a popular culinary seasoning for holiday recipes, it should also make its way into your herbal prep kit.

Really.

Here are some of the best preparedness uses for sage.

image: uses for sage

What is Sage?

Sage is a member of the mint family. Although there are many varieties, the one you’re probably most familiar with is the one used for cooking, known as salvia officinalis. It’s quite aromatic and imparts an earthy, warm quality to dishes. Fresh, dry, rubbed, and ground versions are common.

Uses of Sage in History

Although it is usually only valued as an ingredient in savory dishes nowadays, sage has been valued for health and healing for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Chinese used varieties of sage for an astounding number of health problems. Native Americans used it for meditation, protection, and relaxation as well.

Common garden sage, the one we now use for cooking, was even used for broader health purposes as recently as the late 1800s by early doctors such as the Eclectics, Thomasonians, and Physiomedicalists in America.

Throughout history, sage has proven itself time and time again for everything from minor discomforts like gas and bloating after eating a fatty meal to more serious conditions such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis.

Some Benefits of Sage

It’s astonishing to me that I once thought sage was just a yummy turkey and stuffing seasoning. Take a look at some of its properties:

  • antioxidants
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antiseptic
  • astringent
  • antifungal
  • antibacterial
  • expectorant

This makes turkey and stuffing healthy, right?

Preparedness Uses for Sage

Respiratory Health

Sage strengthens the lungs during bouts with coughs and bronchitis.

Traditionally, sage was used in smoking blends for asthmatics. Although we realize now that the particles from a smoking blend could cause more problems in the long run than they relieve in the short term, using sage as an herbal steam might still offer some relief.

If you do use steam, essential oils are the fastest and easiest method. It is a good technique for respiratory problems, but anyone with asthma should be very careful with this method.

  1. Boil water.
  2. Remove the boiling water from the heat
  3. Place a few drops of sage essential oil in the water.
  4. Put your head over the water with a towel draped on top to keep the steam in.

In addition to the coughing that comes along with a common cold, sage can help balance the runny nose and postnasal drip that often accompanies the cough.

Digestive Health

Constituents in sage are believed to assist the body with the breakdown of fats and proteins. This may be one reason sage may have been such a success as a seasoning for meats. In addition, sage’s astringent, antispasmodic, and carminative actions can help calm the digestive tract during a round of diarrhea, gas, or bloating.

Emotional Well-being

Sage is also a very capable nervine, an herb that settles and calms the nerves and strengthens the nervous system. Many old sources discuss sage as an herb for healing grief and uplifting emotions. Because of its influence on the nervous system, sage was also commonly used for disorders like palsy and epilepsy.

In addition, sage is beneficial for strengthening the senses and sharpening the mind. Because grief can be something that is part of the aftermath of a natural disaster or emergency scenario, sage is valuable in the herbal prep kit on the strength of its nervine properties alone.

Oral Health

Traditional uses of sage for oral health include use as a mouthwash for bleeding or receding gums or as a gargle for hoarseness, swollen glands, and sore throat. The antimicrobial properties of sage help decrease dental plaque formation.

Also, tea made from sage leaf can be used as a gargle to promote oral health, and the textured leaves make a decent stand-in for a toothbrush in a pinch.

All of this combines to make sage an excellent addition to an herbal first aid kit for dental hygiene and throat health.

Trauma Recovery

A less well-known ability of sage involves the blood. Traditional herbalists used sage when a traumatic injury could lead to dangerous blood clots to harmlessly break up clots and discourage strokes and thrombosis.

Sage also has astringent properties that make it useful for cleaning up cuts and scrapes in a pinch. Two ways to utilize this aspect of sage are applying sage tea or the extract as a wash for wounds and bruises.

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Fevers

Sage was also used as an herb to support the nervous system during fevers and also when there were fevers with signs of stress on the nervous system. This included high fevers with delirium or convulsions or lower fevers with restlessness or muscle spasms.

To create a decoction, steep one teaspoon of dried sage in hot water with a lid (to preserve the oils). Breathe in deeply the essential oils and drink the liquid.

Safety and Use

Modern research shows that sage contains a thujone compound that can be toxic if it builds up in the body over time. Large doses of thujone can lead to convulsions or even coma, so be sure to follow the directions on the packaging that comes with any sage supplements you purchase at the store.

Also, follow the traditional wisdom regarding the length of time and serving size if you’re using homegrown sage.

Sage is safe when used at the levels normally found in cooking (the thujone compound mostly dissipates when sage is cooked) and is considered safe by most herbalists when used for less than three weeks at a time at the serving size listed below.

Also, sage is a uterine stimulant, so avoid it or use it with extreme caution if you’re pregnant or suspect you are pregnant.

Read more about side effects, precautions, and interactions when using sage.

Some How To’s About Using Sage

How to Grow Sage

Sage is an easy-to-grow perennial that makes a terrific addition to edible landscaping. It attracts pollinators and provides pest control.

Plant it in full sun and in well-drained soil. No soggy feet! You’ll want to check nurseries and garden centers in springtime for fresh plants.

If you’re interested in growing sage as part of a medicinal herb garden, read this easy guide to growing medicinal herbs for prepping purposes.

How to Make Sage Tea

Make one serving of sage tea by adding 1-2 teaspoons of fresh or dried leaf to 8 ounces of boiling water and allowing it to steep for 10 minutes.

How to Use Sage Extract

15-30 drops 1-3 times per day

For More Information On Sage

In what ways do you use sage for prepping purposes?

“This is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any disease. Consult your personal medical professional.”

Originally published on January 11, 2016; updated by The Survival Mom editors.

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Agatha Noveille is the author of The Independent Herbalist: A Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Preparedness and the blog IndieHerbalist.com.

8 thoughts on “6 Surprising Preparedness Uses for Sage”

  1. This is great! The only thing I would add is a word of caution for nursing moms, because sage is also used to reduce milk supply, and it would be no good to have that happen by surprise, especially in a crisis situation.

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  4. Thanks for the helpful reminder of the virtues of Sage! This is well timed, as hubby and I have been battling lingering symptoms from a very nasty respiratory virus. I’m going to try sage tea to see if I can get rid of the last bits of congestion in my bronchials! Also going to add sage to our medical kit.

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