Sage for Lungs and Memory

Salvia officinalis

Image courtesy of Mark St at flickr.com

Two things come to mind when I think of the herb sage – ceremonial smudge sticks and Thanksgiving stuffing. Sage (Salvia officinalis) essential oil is another story. You don’t hear about it very often, probably because of its potential toxicity. But when used in low doses it can be very useful.

Price and Price say that “people suffering from catarrhal problems, such as chronic bronchitis or asthma, can benefit from a daily application of essential oils (including sage) in a carrier lotion.” The oil is also seen as antibacterial and anti-infectious, so it may help keep away infections that irritate bronchitis and asthma.

Studies have been performed to show that sage essential oil can improve memory, alertness, and mood. One set of researchers compared a group using aromatherapy to a placebo group and found that “the S. officinalis aroma group performed significantly better than the control group on the quality of memory.”

Another study on sage essential oil looked into its properties of being antifungal and anti-inflammatory. The oil proved to kill a variety of fungus while not harming skin cells leading to the conclusion that the oil is “suitable to be incorporated in skin care formulations for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes.”

The oil does come with the caveat that it be used with extreme precaution. Tisserand and Young warn of the possibility of neurotoxicity and recommend a dermal maximum of 0.4% which equates to four drops in one ounce of carrier. It can always be blended with other less toxic essential oils that are appropriate for the condition you are looking to ease.