Salvia officinalis, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Salvia officinalis L.
Species Plantarum 1:23. 1753
Ελληνικά: Φασκόμηλο, Αλισϕακιάv
Salvia officinalis (Sage, Common sage, Garden sage, Kitchen sage, Culinary sage, Dalmatian sage, Purple sage, Broadleaf sage, Red sage) is a small perennial evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and commonly grown as a kitchen and medicinal herb or as an ornamental garden plant. The word sage or derived names are also used for a number of related and unrelated species.
Common sage is also grown in parts of Europe, especially the Balkans for distillation of an essential oil, though other species, such as Salvia fruticosa may also be harvested and distilled with it.
As an herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. In Western cooking, it is used for flavoring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavoring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton.
The Latin name for sage, salvia, means “to heal". Although the effectiveness of Common Sage is open to debate, it has been recommended at one time or another for virtually every ailment. Modern evidence supports its effects as an anhidrotic, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, and tonic. In a double blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, sage was found to be effective in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
The strongest active constituents of Sage are within its essential oil, which contains cineole, borneol, and thujone. Sage leaf contains tannic acid, oleic acid, ursonic acid, ursolic acid, cornsole, cornsolic acid, fumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, niacin, nicotinamide, flavones, flavonoid glycosides, and estrogenic substances.
Caution is indicated when used in conjunction with central nervous system stimulants or depressants.
Salvia officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans likely introduced it to Europe from Egypt as a medicinal herb. Theophrastus wrote about two different sages, a wild undershrub he called sphakos, and a similar cultivated plant he called elelisphakos. Pliny the Elder said that the latter plant was called "Salvia" by the Romans, and used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, and for other uses. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages and during the Carolingian Empire it was cultivated in monastery gardens. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments—he went back to the Greek root for the name and called it Lelifagus.
The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix (Sage the Savior), and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague. Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic, emmenagogue, and tonic.
There are a number of cultivars, with the majority grown as ornamentals rather than for their herbal properties. All are valuable as small ornamental flowering shrubs, and for their use as a low ground cover, especially in sunny dry environments. They are easily propagated from summer cuttings, and some cultivars are produced from seeds. Named cultivars include:
* 'Purpurascens', a purple-leafed cultivar
1. ^ a b c "Sage". OBeWise Nutriceutica. Applied Health. http://www.appliedhealth.com/nutri/page8453.php. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
* The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, Deni Bown (New York: DK, 2001)
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License