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Sage in the Garden

The garden plant that has my attention the most right now, as May turns to June, is sage (Salvia officinalis).

Just look at these flowers! I've taken so many pictures of it over the past two weeks since it began to bloom, trying to capture the vibrancy of the color and how much it appears to glow in the light. Alas, none of the pictures can do it real justice, but this one will have to do.

Salvia officinalis

Sage, of course, is a wonderful culinary spice. I love to use it with butternut squash soup, or savory pumpkin dishes in the fall. But it is a powerful medicinal herb as well.

My favorite way to use sage is as a tea for colds and flus. Sage has antibacterial properties, it decreases excess secretions such as phlegm, and it can help to modulate fevers. I first learned about using sage this way from Stephen Buhner in one of the first herb books I ever purchased, Herbal Antibiotics. In this book he gives his recipe for "The Best Cold and Flu Tea" which is basically 2 tsp of dried sage steeped in a cup of hot water, then flavored liberally with honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne. It is considered drying, so I don't use it in overly dry conditions, and it is contraindicated while nursing and during pregnancy. It is so drying that it can actually dry up breast milk, so unless that is what you are intending, better to not use it during lactation.

Another way that I incorporate sage medicinally is for women going through menopause who are suffering with hot flashes. There is a long tradition of using sage for this purpose, and a couple of studies to support it. A 2011 study found that 1 tablet daily significantly reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes and associated menopausal symptoms over an 8 week period.

Lastly, I want to mention the newest information I have learned about sage, which pertains to its usefulness in the garden. I learned today that sage is a good companion plant for vegetable plants in the cabbage family that are prone to cabbage moths. I get a lot of these in my garden, especially by late summer, so it is great to know that I can incorporate sage into my garden for this benefit as well.


Bommer S, Klein P, Suter A. First time proof of sage’s tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Adv Ther. 2011; 28(6): 490-500. Retrieved 5/31/2022 from

Buhner, Stephen Harrod (1999). Herbal Antibiotics; Natural alternatives for treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria. Storey Books. Pownel, VT.

About me:

My name is Jillian Bar-av and I am a Registered Herbalist and Licensed Nutritionist who works with busy women to help them have the energy to do what they love. I specialize in conditions that affect the reproductive system and urinary tract, such as PCOS and Interstitial Cystitis. I believe that it takes healthy people to create a healthy planet, and I want to make a difference for both.

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