The Benefits of Sage Tea

Sage tea
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Sage tea is made from the leaves of the herb plant (Salvia officinalis). Often used as a culinary herb, sage is said to have a variety of healthful properties. Proponents claim that sipping sage tea can help with certain health conditions, as well as promote weight loss and improve hair health.

Why Do People Drink Sage Tea?

Sage tea is said to aid in the treatment of digestive problems such as diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn, excessive sweating, hot flashes, painful menstrual periods, depression, insomnia, memory loss, cold sores, and to reduce the overproduction of saliva and perspiration.

Gargling with a tea made from the leaves of the sage plant has a long history of use as a remedy for sore throats and coughs. 

The Benefits of Sage Tea: Can It Really Help?

While research on the health effects of sage is very limited, there's some evidence that drinking sage tea may provide certain benefits. Here's a look at some of the research:

1) To Ease Hot Flashes and Sweating Associated With Menopause

There's some evidence that sage leaves may help decrease hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive perspiration associated with menopause. For instance, in a study published in the journal Advances in Therapy, researchers assigned 71 women to eight weeks of treatment with a sage-leaf extract (a once-daily tablet of fresh sage leaves). Results showed that there was a significant decrease in the intensity-related hot flushes by 50 percent within four weeks and 64 percent within eight weeks.

Related: Natural Approach to Menopause

2) To Prevent Oral Mucositis

One of the most common complications of cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy and radiation, oral mucositis occurs when the lining of the mouth breaks down and forms painful mouth ulcers.

A pilot study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2016 indicates that a combination sage mouth rinse may help to alleviate oral mucositis in people undergoing chemotherapy.

For the study, people receiving chemotherapy were prescribed basic oral care plus a sage tea-thyme-peppermint oral rinse or basic care alone and were evaluated on day 5 and 14.

Most of the people using the oral rinse in conjunction with basic oral care didn't develop oral mucositis on day 5. The incidence of oral mucositis was also statistically lower compared to those who didn't use the rinse.

3) For Hair

Some proponents suggest that applying a hair and scalp rinse made from combination of sage tea (with black tea or rosemary) can promote hair growth or darken gray hair as an alternative to hair dye. Although there is no scientific support for these claims, it's possible that the tannins found in black or sage tea (and and many other foods) may temporarily dye gray hairs.

When used for hair, proponents suggest making the tea, allowing it to cool, and spritzing it on gray hair. It is usually left in for five to ten minutes and then washed as usual. (Note that the tannin in tea can stain towels and clothing.) 

4) High Cholesterol

Preliminary research suggests that sage tea may help reduce high cholesterol, according to a small study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2009.

After four weeks of regular consumption of sage tea, six healthy female volunteers showed a reduction in LDL cholesterol and an improvement in total cholesterol levels. The study also found that sage tea may help increase antioxidant activity.

5) Weight Loss

Sage tea is commonly touted as a natural weight loss aid, however there's no evidence to support the claim that sage tea can help you slim down.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, sage tea can be found in many natural-foods stores.

How to Make Sage Tea

To make sage tea, try adding 2 tablespoons of fresh sage leaves (or 1 tablespoon of dried leaves) to a mug.

Fill the mug with one cup of almost-boiling water. Cover and let it steep for approximately 10 minutes. Strain the tea.

Possible Side Effects

Sage is commonly used in cooking, which may lead you to believe that it's completely safe. While sage is believed to be safe in the amounts typically used in cooking, it naturally contains thujone and camphor, chemicals that have the potential to be harmful if taken in high enough amounts. Some of the known adverse effects include seizures and liver damage.

A preliminary study published in Chemical Central Journal suggests that three to six cups of sage tea could be consumed daily without reaching toxicological thresholds, however, it would be wise to avoid drinking more than a cup of sage tea daily until a safe limit is established. Also keep in mind that the amount of thujone and camphor can vary depending on the variety, manufacturing process, and brewing method.

Pregnant women shouldn't take sage (thujone may cause uterine contractions).

Although sage tea is sometimes recommended to reduce the breast milk supply in nursing mothers dealing with an oversupply of milk (or to those attempting to wean their baby), due to the thujone content, breastfeeding women should avoid it or consult their doctors before using it.

Sage may lower blood pressure (Spanish sage is believed to increase blood pressure), and it may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. There's also some concern that some varieties of sage, such as Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia), may have a similar effect to estrogen. People with hormone-sensitive conditions shouldn't take sage. It may interact with various medications, including sedatives, anticonvulsants, and diabetes medication.

If you're considering taking sage tea, talk with your healthcare provider first to weigh the pros and cons and to discuss whether it's appropriate for you.

The Takeaway

Sipping sage tea on occasion may help enhance your overall health by keeping you hydrated and increasing your antioxidant intake, but be sure to avoid drinking regular or large amounts due to the thujone (and camphor) content.

Sources:

Bommer S, Klein P, Suter A. First time proof of sage's tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Adv Ther. 2011 Jun;28(6):490-500. 

Lima CF, Andrade PB, Seabra RM, Fernandes-Ferreira M, Pereira-Wilson C. The drinking of a Salvia officinalis infusion improves liver antioxidant status in mice and rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):383-9.

Mutluay Yayla E, Izgu N, Ozdemir L, Aslan Erdem S, Kartal M. Sage tea-thyme-peppermint hydrosol oral rinse reduces chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis: A randomized controlled pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Aug;27:58-64. 

Sá CM, Ramos AA, Azevedo MF, Lima CF, Fernandes-Ferreira M, Pereira-Wilson C. Sage tea drinking improves lipid profile and antioxidant defences in humans. Int J Mol Sci. 2009 Sep 9;10(9):3937-50.

Walch SG, Kuballa T, Stühlinger W, Lachenmeier DW. Determination of the biologically active flavour substances thujone and camphor in foods and medicines containing sage (Salvia officinalis L.). Chem Cent J. 2011 Jul 21;5:44. 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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