While it’s true that sage can aid digestion, it’s unlikely that this herb will help you shed pounds. The formula for weight loss remains the same; if you consume more calories than you burn through exercise, no amount of sage will help you slim down. However, it’s possible that this herb's essential oil can help keep your brain in top shape, even if it can’t help whittle your waist.
Sage grows in small shrub form with long, velvety leaves in a silver-green color. According to “Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs,” the bush can grow to be as tall as 30 inches and is native to the northern Mediterranean. The plant prefers a slightly alkaline soil and doesn’t need much water to grow. The bush flowers once a year in June, producing tube-like flowers in pink, white, blue or purple.
There are no scientific studies linking sage consumption to weight loss. Although sage has been used for centuries as a natural cure for conditions ranging from sore throats to warts, there is no peer-reviewed scholastic evidence that the connection between sage and weight loss has been studied, let alone proved. There are, however, several scientific studies that attempt to link sage consumption to increased memory function.
A 2002 study performed in England and published in 2003 in “Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior” reveals that small doses of sage essential oil helped young, healthy volunteers improve their memory function. The double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment measured whether the oil could help subjects on word recall tests, both immediate and delayed. The 50 microliter dose of essential oil did just that. Researchers describe the result as “significantly improved immediate word recall.”
Sage contains tannins, plant compounds that bind proteins together. In “Herbs Demystified,” author and biochemist Holly Phaneuf explains that when proteins in your skin bind together, you feel a tight, drying sensation. It happens after you drink tannin-rich beverages such as tea or red wine. Sage can have the same effect. If you drink tea brewed from dried sage leaves, the tannins will temporarily bind the proteins in your throat and stomach, creating a protective barrier that eases sore throats and keeps your stomach wall from coming into contact with irritants that cause diarrhea or upset stomach.
If you are pregnant, do not take sage oil medicinally. According to Phaneuf, a component of sage called monoterpene geranoil may be able to mimic estrogen in your body. Although this connection hasn’t been studied thoroughly enough to come to a firm conclusion, Phaneuf advises you to avoid medicinal sage just to be safe. Using sage as a cooking herb should not pose a threat, she writes.
- “Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs”; edited by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton; 1998
- “Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior”; Salvia lavandulaefolia (Spanish Sage) enhances memory in healthy young volunteers; N.T.J. Tildesley et al; June 2003
- “Herbs Demystified”; Holly Phaneuf, PhD; 2005