Sage is more than a spice to sprinkle on your dinner. It is a member of the world of herbal medicine and could potentially pack a punch against several health problems:
- Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss: Throughout history, folk healers have recognized sage’s memory-boosting powers. But there are encouraging results from modern medicine. British scientists in 2003 proved that people who took sage oil capsules performed far better on a memory test. They took 44 healthy adults and gave them either sage oil pills or placebos. All of them performed a word recall test to see how many words they could remember that they were shown previously. Time after time, researchers found that those taking sage oil performed significantly better. Because of this memory link, sage has been put under the microscopes of those searching for alternative ways to deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Research has found in the past that sage seems to stop one particular enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a chemical messenger from the brain. Dementia is often accompanied by a drop in acetylcholine in the brain, so the thinking goes that sage could prevent this drop. A second study in 2003 tested sage versus placebo on 42 people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The results suggested that those taking the herb had at least modest improvement in mental function.
- Cold Sores: The antiviral qualities of sage may help against cold sores, caused by the herpes virus. Use sage cream and apply directly to the sore. A notable study found that a topical treatment with a cream containing both sage and rhubarb was as effective as a mainstream cream — healing the sores in about the same amount of time (a week).
- Stomachache: In Germany, sage is approved for treating stomach distress. It has a long history in folk medicine, but a recent study also tested sage against the bacteria H. pylori in the stomach. Sage was boiled and eaten. While it didn’t actually kill the bacteria, sage was found to exert antibacterial effects on H. pylori. It seems that, for now, using sage in cooking when you have stomach distress might be a good idea, but stop short of using sage capsules for this purpose.
- Sore Throat: One potentially great effect of sage could in relieving a sore throat. One study of nearly 300 people found that a throat spray created with 15% sage significantly lowered throat pain compared to placebo. Patients in the study found relief within two hours of using the spray.