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Side Effects of the Herb Sage

author image Lynn Farris
Lynn Farris has been conducting management studies, writing technical articles and contributing to local newspapers since 1984. Having traveled throughout the world, Farris now lives in Costa Rica, teaches English and writes a column for the "National Examiner" on Costa Rica. Farris holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in speech communications and psychology from Case Western Reserve University.
Side Effects of the Herb Sage
Sage has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Photo Credit fresh sage. herbs and spices image by joanna wnuk from Fotolia.com

The herb sage has been used for centuries for culinary and medicinal uses. The Latin name for sage is Salvia officinalis. According to Vitamin Stuff, the French call the herb toute bonne, which translates as "all is well." It has been used to treat a wide number of ailments from gastric problems to perspiration to killing bacteria. Few side effects exist from consuming the herb when used in food preparation. Side effects may occur when sage is used in large quantities or in a concentrated form in teas or oil.

Dry up breast milk

According to an article published on the Le Leche League International website, "Sage (Salvia officinalis) is noted in lactation and herbal texts alike as having a folk reputation for lowering milk supply (Bissett 1994, Riordan: and Auerbach 1993)." Readers Digest, in discussing sage for drying up breast milk, states, "Although this has not been clinically proven, the high tannin content, which is the natural astringent in sage, supports this use."

There are a variety of recipes and dosages listed by various breast feeding support groups for making sage tea to aid in drying up breast milk. However, in every case, multiple doses of the tea are required. Avoid ingesting quantities of this herb if you are breastfeeding.

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Thujone is a toxic ingredient in sage and other substances like absinthe. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Food prepared a report on thujone and concluded that "The principal manifestation of intoxication by thujone is epileptiform convulsions in animals and man. The Commission supported the restrictions of upper levels of this ingredient in foods, primarily due to this side effect.

Interaction with Medications

Scientists are investigating a number of the claims involving the benefits of drinking sage tea. One of these claims deals with blood glucose regulations. A number of scientists working jointly at multiple universities in Portugal, published in the International Journal of Microbiology, in September of 2009, a study which showed positive benefits with healthy individuals in improving the lipid profile and felt that it was safe to conduct a study on a diabetic population. Since the studies have not been completed, individuals currently on medication for diabetes should consult their physician about potential side effects before using sage tea or concentrated forms of sage.

Another study conducted at the Department/Centre of Biology, School of Sciences, University of Minho, in Portugal, looked at sage tea as a liver antioxidant. While the results they saw indicated no toxicity in healthy individuals they indicated it may have side effects with concurrent medical treatment.

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