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Sages- the sacred herbs

Sages (of the genus Salvia) are herbs or shrubs native to Mediterranean climates across the globe, and consist of many different species and varieties. Sages are members of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Sage plants (mainly white, black, and purple) have many practical, natural, and spiritual uses. Sages have been used to treat fevers, epilepsy, headaches, diarrhea, depression, and a variety of other ailments. Many species of Salvia are high in antioxidants, sources of natural pain relievers, and even proven to help improve memory and cognitive function.

White Sage (Salvia apiana) is a small shrub with distinctive leaves with a white hairy coating. Those small hairs are called Trichomes and give the sage plant its whitish coloring. White sage is found throughout southern California and Baja, as well as in some southwestern deserts. White sage is a commonly used herb both in modern medicine and in spiritual healing. Smudging is the Native American ritual of using smoldering sage to cleanse the soul and purify the mind. The sage smoke is said to help set the mind right, and clarify ones thoughts. The leaves are dried then wrapped in bundles for burning. Bundles are available in many shops, or can be made by collecting and drying white sage leaves. A heat tolerant bowl should also be used when smudging to prevent any damage; an abalone shell is often used in ceremonies. Tea can be made from the leaves of white sage, and it’s said to help women after childbirth and ease a variety of headaches and migraines. Sage tea is used today as an effective headache treatment, and is proven to increase cognitive awareness. Sage is often used to treat bites or stings by making a pack from the leaves, and is an effective antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes.

White sage is a drought tolerant plant, and can survive in hot areas with little water. If you are growing sage in a garden, keep in mind that in dry seasons it is recommended you water once a week to help the plant thrive. These plants grow best in sandy soil and direct sun; sage is a vital species of coastal chaparral, and can tolerate a variety of stressors. Leaves can be picked when young, and dried by hanging in an arid area, or baking at a very low temperature. With a wide variety of spiritual and medical uses, white sage is a versatile plant and a vital part of both our local ecosystems and our gardens.


Black Sage (Salvia mellifera) is another common species in Southern California and Baja. This species of sage has very dark green leaves, which are much smaller than that of White Sage. The Black sage is also a much hardier plant and grows well in stressful environments.  Traditionally, Black sage was used to detox the body and soul, as well as provide natural pain relief. The Chumash tribe of Central California used to make a strong sun tea from the leaves of Black Sage. The tea was then used to rub on a painful area, or used to soak one’s feet. Black Sage contains Aethiopinone and Ursolic acid, which are natural pain relievers used in many modern medicines. In the proper rain conditions, the flowers of this plant produce enough nectar that it can be used to make Black sage honey. This honey has a peppery flavor and is rare in local dry climates.

Black sage plants are a hardy species, and form the staple structure for both hard and soft local chaparral ecosystems. These plants are great for stabilizing soils and preventing erosion, which are great qualities for landscaping plants. The flowers of Black sage also serve as a food source to certain species of hummingbirds and butterflies.

Purple Sage (Salvia officinalis) has shorter leaves with some hairs present, and has purple flowers. Purple sage is one of the most beneficial species when it comes to medical use. Several studies show great promise in the treatment of CNS Disorders (Central nervous system) as well as in the treatment of age related memory loss. Sage has always been valued to clear one’s mind and improve focus, but also has shown to slow the progression of mental decay and memory loss. Purple sage was used to treat stomach issues and skin issues, through the consumption of the sage tea. Purple sage also found a foothold in many European cultures as a culinary herb, especially in England.

Purple sage grows well in average to dry soil, and is drought tolerant. Purple sage does very well in landscaping and gardens as a butterfly and hummingbird attractor.

Sage plants (Salvia) have been used throughout history to help calm the soul, and treat a variety of ailments. Sage has a distinct calming effect. Recent medical research is shown to support the traditional uses of sage, by isolating the exact chemicals responsible for healing, pain relief, and increased mental clarity.  Sage shows significant effects in reducing age-based memory loss, and although treatment is not yet developed, sage shows great promise in modern medicine. Sages also have great culinary applications as seasoning for food, or the making of tea. Teas can be used to calm yourself, awaken your mind, and help treat headaches. Sages grow very easily and are drought tolerant, requiring little water and full sun. Sage plants are a great landscaping plant because of their low-maintenance care, and their anti-erosion properties. With its many benefits, pleasant odor, and beautiful flowers, Sage plants are a great addition to any garden or landscape.

Sage Tea

For a whole pot:        2 ½-3 cups boiling water

            20g (0.705oz) dried sage or 30g (1.058oz) fresh sage

            Add sage and steep/ or mix and filter, to preferred strength


For 1 cup:         Boiling water in desired mug/cup

Use 2g (0.0705oz) of dried sage or 3g (0.1058) of fresh sage

Add sage and let steep or mix and filter, to preferred strength

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