Sharp flavored sage herb or garden sage is one of the popular herbs known since ancient Roman times. This legendary herb which holds numerous virtues has long been recognized as the guardian of herbs. It is being in usage in various traditional European and Chinese medicines for its health promoting and disease preventing properties.
Herb sage is an evergreen perennial shrub commonly seen all over the Mediterranean and south-eastern Europe (Balkan) regions. Botanically, it belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, in the genus, Salvia.
Scientific name: Salvia officinalis.
|Sage herb (Salvia officinalis).
Note for narrow, pointed dark
Photo courtesy: thatredhead4
Sage flourishes well under sandy, alkaline soil supplemented with adequate sunlight conditions. It grows up to 75 cm in height and features woody, branching stems. Its pebble-like patterned, aromatic leaves feature grey-green, soft surface with fine hair-like filaments growing on either sides. During summer, it bears violet-blue flowers in bunch that attract bees.
Photo: casers jean
Several cultivars of sage grown, meant either for medicinal or culinary purposes.
Three-lobed sage (S. fruiticosa or S. triloba): Large perennial with lobed leaves, grown in the Mediterranean region and commonly employed in the preparation of sage-tea.
Pineapple sage (S. rutilans): Fresh leaves add flavor to desserts and drinks.
Clary sage (S. sclarea): Strongly aromatic leaves generally used as throat gargle infusions and in perfumeries.
Azure sage (S. azurea): Large plant with blue flowers, used in Mexico as an herbal panacea.
Sage herbal parts have many notable plant-derived chemical compounds, essential oils, minerals, vitamins that are known to have disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The prime biologically active component of common sage appears to be its essential oil, which chiefly contain ketones; a-thujone, and ß-thujone. In addition, sage leaf contains numerous other compounds, including cineol, borneol, tannic acid; bitter substances like cornsole and cornsolic acid; fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic and nicotinic acids; nicotinamide; flavones; flavone glycosides and estrogenic substances. Altogether, these compounds known to have counter-irritant, rubefacient, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
Thujone is GABA and Serotonin (5-HT3) receptor antagonist. It improves mental concentration, attention-span and quickens the senses; hence sage infusion has long been recognized as "thinker's tea."
Three lobe sage (S. triloba) composes flavone called salvigenin. Research studies found that vascular relaxant effect of salvigenin may offer protection from cardiovascular diseases.
This herb is exceptionally very rich source of several B-complex groups of vitamins, such as folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine and riboflavin many times higher than the recommended daily levels.
The herb contains very good amounts of vitamin-A and beta-carotene levels. 100 g dry ground herb provides 5900 IU; about 196% of RDA. Vitamin-A is a powerful natural antioxidant and is essential for night-vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A known to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Fresh sage leaves are a good source of antioxidant vitamin, vitamin-C; contain 32.4 or 54% of RDA. Vitamin C helps in the synthesis of structural proteins like collagen. Its adequate levels in the body help maintain integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps protect from scurvy, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the human body.
Sage herb parts, whether fresh or dried, are rich sources of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Fresh leaves are most sought after in cooking for their subtle aromatic flavor than that in the dried sage. If you have one in your home garden, fresh-herb can be gathered as and when required. In the markets, look for farm-fresh, culinary sage leaves that are featuring either plain narrow leafy or non-flowering broad-leaf types as they preferred particularly in cooking.
Dried, as well as ground (powder) sage herb can also be available in the herbal stores. Look for authentic sources from organically grown herb. Fresh leaves used in marinades should be flavorful and devoid of blemishes, mold and wilt.
Store fresh herb in plastic bags placed inside refrigerator. Dried sage should be kept in an air-tight container and placed in a cool, dark and dry place where it may keep afresh for several months.
Sage leaves, in general, are harvested just before flowering stage for culinary purposes. Discard tough stems and fibers before using in recipes. Wash in cold water to remove soil and sand. Gently pat dry using a soft cloth.
Sage herb is one of the common ingredients in Greek, Italian, and Balkan cuisine.
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh leaves can be used in stuffing in season sausages, poultry and fish.
The herb is also used in many vegetable dishes, especially with beans.
It is also used as a garnish in herb salads.
The essential oil obtained from sage has been found to have acetylcholinesterase (Ach) enzyme inhibition activities. This help rise Ach levels in the brain. Ach enzyme improves concentration and may play a role in the treatment for memory loss associated with the diseases like Alzheimer's.
Sage oil, distilled from the flowering tops, composes of volatile essential oil such as camphene, cineol, borneol, bornyl acetate and other esters. These compounds are known to have tonic, astringent, diaphoretic and stimulant properties.
Sage herb oil is also being used externally as a rubefacient to soothe painful ailments like muscle stiffness, rheumatism, and neuralgic conditions.
Further, its oil is used as blended massage-oil and in the aromatic therapy. It helps relieve nervousness, anxiety, headaches, stress, and fatigue. (Medical disclaimer).
Sage herb, when used in large amounts can cause nervous irritation, convulsions and death. Hence its use is prohibited in known epileptic conditions.
The herb should not be used in pregnancy as chemical compounds like thujone in it may cause uterine stimulation resulting in abortion. (Medical disclaimer).
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Visit here for very informative pages on:-
Research articles on nutrition.
2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.
3. Antioxidative Phenolic Compounds from Salvia officinalis- PDF.