Botanical Name: Salvia officnalis

Family: Labiatae

Hindi Name: Salvia

Sage is native to the northern Mediterranean and cultivated in Yugoslavia, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, England, Canada, US, France and Germany. It is also native to Asia Minor.

Sage, grown in Central Europe since the Middle Ages, is not restricted to the Old World. Several sage species from Central America are characterised by a sweet, fruity fragrance, very unsimilar to the Mediterranean sage. Many of these species have become increasingly popular for herb infusions, while others are grown as ornamentals for their large flowers.

Also native to central America is a hallucinogenic species, the sacred sage, which is of old cultivated by central American Indians, and was used, in religious ceremonies before the advent of the Spaniards. The name of sage in almost all European tongues is derived from the classical Latin name of that plant, salvia. This name is thought to derive from salvere, thus indicating the medical value of the plant.

The plant is a hardy shrub, growing to a height of 15-30 cm. The blue purple or white flowers are in simple racemes. The leaves are aromatic and petiolate. Golden sage is being cultivated in Jammu area for its essential oil which is now being imported for use in soup and perfumery.

Sage grown in the Dalmatian region of Yugoslavia has a strong, fragrant and aromatic odour, and a somewhat astringent and a little bitter taste, but considered to be best in quality.

Its composition is as follows:

  • Moisture: 5.7%
  • Protein: 10.2 %
  • Fat: 14.1 %
  • Fibre: 16 %
  • Carbohydrates: 46.3 %
  • Ash: 7.7 %
  • Calcium: 1.8 %
  • Phosphorus: 0.9 %
  • Iron: 0.03 %
  • Sodium: 0.01 %
  • Potassium: 1 %
  • Vit A: 2.395 1U/100g
  • Vit B: 0.75mg /100g
  • Vit B2: 0.34mg/100g
  • Vit C: 39.8mg/100g
  • Niacin: 5.7mg/100g

The essential oil is composed differently in different species and varieties of sage. Dalmatian sage contains mostly, cineol, camphor, borneol, bornyl esters, alpha-pinene and salvene. The herb contains a volatile oil, tannin and resin, and is distilled to produce sage oil.

Although sage is an ancient spice, its importance today is quite limited. In the mediterranean countries, dishes spiced with sage are found from Spain to Greece. Italians most commonly use sage to flavour meat and poultry dishes, especially veal. Saltimboicca alia Romana is probably the most famous dish, owing its special character to sage.

Sage leaves fried in butter makes an easy and inreresting sauce that is eaten with Italian noodles or pasta. Sage is sometimes, combined with garlic and pepper for barbecued or fried meat. Sage species from central America, which are much sweeter and have more fruity aroma, are to flavour herbal infusions. They are grown more often as ornamentals for their large and colourful flowers.

Sage is stimulant, astringent, tonic, carminative and aromatic. Its makes an excellent gargle for tonsils, bleeding gums, laryngitis and ulcerated throat. Sage tea is useful in fever deliriums, nervous excitement and accompanying nervous disorders. It acts as a tonic in stomach and nervous system complaints and in weak digestion.

It works as an emmenagogue in treating typhoid fever, bilious and liver problems, kidney and lung troubles and stomach haemorrhages. The infusion is used to relieve colds, painful joints, lethargy, palsy and measles. Fresh leaves rubbed on teeth and gums are beneficial. The herb is also applied warm as a poultice. The herb is useful in preventing grey hair if blended in hair tonics.

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