November Full Moon Herb Highlight:
Our herb highlight this month is one that makes a common appearance on many a table during November - Sage! This incredible herb is so, so much more than Thanksgiving stuffing.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) has been used for centuries. Salvia comes from the Latin root for safe or healthy giving us insight into how our ancestors revered this lovely gem. Author Maude Grieve tells us of a medieval saying, “Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?” This translates as, “Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?” This photo is of Sage happily growing in my own garden, lovingly tucked in next to the Spearmint. It boasts an impressive range of properties: aromatic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, antiseptic, and blood moving.
Energetically, Sage is warming and drying with a taste that’s bitter and pungent. Sage’s drying astringency is one of its powerhouse actions - astringent herbs help to tighten tissues they come into contact with. Sage is one of the first herbs I reach for when dealing with a sore throat. While not always the most tasty and delicious, a strong cup of sage tea is often all that’s needed to turn the tide on a hot and inflamed throat. Sage is commonly found in tooth powders and mouthwash for this same reason - tightening and toning the gums and tissues of the mouth.
Another gift of Sage is its digestive bitter properties…perhaps that’s why it makes itself known on our Thanksgiving tables? Sage is carminative meaning it reduces gas and bloating while easing cramping in the gut and promoting digestion. All welcome actions when we’ve indulged a bit too much, ha! It makes itself particularly useful in digesting fats and has long been combined with heavy meats.
Sage is a well-known aid to peri-menopause and menopausal women. It is commonly used to stop excessive sweating, night sweats, and hot flashes. I know several women who have found relief with the regular use of Sage tea and tincture.
This wonder plant has also been shown to have positive effects on cognition. An exciting 2003 human clinical trial showed Sage’s efficacy in increasing cognitive function and decreasing agitation in folks with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. My life has been touched by this terrible disease and it thrills me to think that a plant as abundant and generous as Sage could support other families like mine.
It is my hope that you may view Sage a bit differently this year as you begin to prepare your holiday meal. From our family to yours - a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Akhondzadzadeh, S., Noroozian, M., Mohammadi, M., Ohadinia, S., Jamshidi, A.H., Khani, M. (2003). Salvia officinalis extract in the treatment of patient’s with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: A doubl blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapuetics, 28(1):53-9. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2710.2003.00463.x
Grieve, M. (1971). A modern herbal (Vols. 1-2) (originally published 1931). New York: Dover Publications.
de la Foret, R. (2017). An alchemy of herbs. New York: Hay House, Inc.