Ask The Pharmacist: The health benefits of white sage and how to use it
White sage is known botanically as salvia apiana and can be purchased in a bundle and you can also drink it as a tea. This plant has impressive medicinal properties and is used in many wellness rituals.
I think some people mistakenly assume you can get high off it, but you can’t. I also want to emphasize this is a medicinal herb for everyone, and it’s not just for new agers and its benefits were put on Earth for all to utilize.
Sage is just like every other herbal remedy you’ve heard of. You can take herbs as a dietary supplement (think ginger, echinacea or dandelion) … you can drink tea from the plant (think chamomile or coffee), or you can apply an herb as a compress (think of calendula). You can distill plants and inhale their essential oils, think of lavender or peppermint. It’s all medicine. I’m just giving you a new way to extract the medicine from a plant, by burning it, and this practice is referred to as smudging.
Here are five benefits of white sage:
Treats sinus infections
You can inhale the aroma given off a burning white sage bundle for a few minutes, or you can drink it as a tea. However you do it, it’s the compound called “eucalyptol” also known as 1,8-cineole that when inhaled, reduces painful sinus inflammation. It may kill the associated pathogens too! That’s pretty amazing considering the side effects of prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines.
Calms a sore throat
Sage leaf tea is a proven strategy for alleviating a sore throat, at least according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Guide. Sage tea as you know will reduce mucous secretions of the sinuses, throat, and lungs.
Relieves menstrual pain
White sage tea might provide relief from menstrual period cramps and possibly some symptoms of menopause like sweating and hot flashes. This benefit occurs because sage contains phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived estrogens.
Provides cleansing energy
Sage is kind of like an eraser, it will help remove the day’s burdens and ease emotional suffering. It may help with mild anxiety or depression. Smudging is the quickest way because when you inhale, the compounds go straight to your bloodstream and brain. Just FYI, the practice of burning herbs (aka smudging) is a non-religious one. You’re just burning plant leaves rather than swallowing the supplement. If you’d like, you can certainly pray while you burn the medicine.
Cleans the air
Burning the embers of sage (aka smudging) in a room is helpful if someone is sick. My tip is designed to clean a room where someone has been coughing or sneezing from pneumonia, or influenza for example … and you desire to clear the air space of these germs so you don’t catch it too.
If you work in nursing homes, clinics or hospitals, you might want to go home and smudge yourself to help deter infection from pathogens that hitched a ride on your clothes. Research has found that burning sage for an hour reduced the levels of bacteria in the air by 94 percent, and this benefit lasted for 24 hours.
If you don’t want to burn it, drinking sage tea is an option. You can make your own white sage tea or buy a commercially prepared form at health food stores and online.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.