Sage (Salvia officinalis)

This hardy herb is still flourishing in the garden. It is an evergreen with woody stems and a member of the mint family with the characteristic pinky – blue whorls of flowers in the summer months. Salvia is taken from the Latin name salvare which means to be saved or in good health. It was a sacred ceremonial herb for the Romans who associated it with immortality, meanwhile the Arabs believed that if sage flourished in your garden you would live for a very long time!

There are around 900 varieties of sage spread worldwide and a great many of them have medicinal properties and culinary uses. It is a classic herb that is often served with fatty meats to add flavour and help with digestion. It also has a long history of being used to treat sore throats and coughs and it can be especially beneficial when gargled because of its anti inflammatory and antiseptic action.

Sage was historically used to improve memory and there is some evidence that it may increase cognitive function and improve memory in older people. It is a good herb for women especially during the menopause where it can be helpful to combat hot flushes and excessive menstrual bleeding. It has traditionally been the herb of choice to dry up a mother’s milk when nursing has ceased.

You can use the fresh leaves to clean your teeth and promote healthy gums whilst a strong infusion of the herb can be as a rinse for dark hair to impart shine and darken greying hair. Alternatively it makes a pleasant tea and when drunk hot can help promote sweating and alleviate cold symptoms.