The Benefits of Drinking Sage Tea

Sage tea
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Sage tea is made from the leaves of the sage plant (Salvia officinalis). Often used as a culinary herb, sage is also a popular remedy in herbal medicine. Proponents claim that drinking sage tea can help with a number of health problems, as well as promote weight loss and improve hair health.

Why Do People Drink Sage Tea?

In addition to the conditions above, sage tea is said to aid in the treatment of sore throat, digestive problems, such as diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn, painful menstrual periods, depression, insomnia, memory loss, cold sores, and for reducing the overproduction of saliva.

The Benefits of Sage Tea

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 on sage tea:

1) To Ease Hot Flashes Associated With Menopause

There's some evidence that sage leaves may be beneficial for reducing hot flashes associated with menopause. For instance, in a study published in the Italian journal Minerva Ginecologica, researchers assigned 30 menopausal women to three months of treatment with a combination of sage-leaf extract and alfalfa. Results showed that hot flashes completely disappeared in 20 women, while an additional four women showed "good improvement" in hot flashes.

Related: Natural Approach to Menopause.

2) To Prevent Oral Mucositis

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 and black tea can promote hair growth or darken gray hair. 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.

Related: Biotin for Hair

4) Cholesterol

Sage tea may help keep cholesterol in check, 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.

Related: Remedies for High Cholesterol

Where to Find It

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

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 milk the supply in breastfeeding 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.

If you're considering taking sage tea to treat any health problem, 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 may help enhance your overall health by keeping you hydrated and increasing your antioxidant intake, but be sure to avoid drinking large amounts due to the thujone (and camphor) content.

Sources:

De Leo V, Lanzetta D, Cazzavacca R, Morgante G. Treatment of neurovegetative menopausal symptoms with a phytotherapeutic agent. Minerva Ginecol. 1998 May;50(5):207-11.

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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