Sage & Sages
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The name Salvia comes from salveo, salvare = to heal.
A medieval saying, sometimes attributed to Martin Luther, is: “Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?” (‘Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?’). To which Hildegard of Bingen said: “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden, if not because nothing can stand against death?”
Some Artemisia species are incorrectly called sages. A better name for these is sagebrush; they generally taste vile, and have no place on the spice shelf. This misnaming has gone rather far in smudging: smudge bundles are made with various grey-leaved species of Artemisia and sold as “whitesage” smudges. The only true whitesage is Salvia apiana, which has a delightful scent when burned.
Medicinally, there are several types of Salvia:
- the aromatic ones: excepting pineapple sage, which doesn’t work like the rest
- the non-aromatic ones
- Chia sages
- Salvia divinorum
- Salvia apiana, White sage, California white sage, a perennial at home in the mountains of Southern California, sometimes found in the desert of southern Arizona,
- Salvia candelabrum, a blue-flowering scented sage,
- Salvia clevelandii, Blue sage, Cleveland sage, Fragrant sage, with a very strong scent, found either delightful or disgusting,
- Salvia fulgens, Cardinal sage, Mexican red sage, a red-flowering perennial,
- Salvia greggii, Autumn sage, a red-flowered sage with a very strong scent,
- Salvia lyrata, Lyre-leaved sage, Lyreleaf sage, Cancerweed, a purple-flowering perennial,
- Salvia officinalis, Garden sage, Kitchen sage, Dalmatian sage, a grey-leaved perennial with showy blue flowers; this is “the” sage. There are several varieties:
- S. o. ‘Purpurascens’, a purple-leafed variety, considered by some to be strongest of the garden sages,
- S. o. ‘Tricolor’, a variety with white-yellow-green leaves,
- S. o. ‘Berggarten’, a variety with huge leaves,
- S. o. ‘Icterina’, a variety with yellow-green leaves,
- S. o. ‘Alba’, a white-flowered variety,
- Salvia pratensis, Meadow clary, Meadow sage, a blue-flowering species,
- Salvia sclarea, Clary sage, a biennial sage with enormous (for sages) flower spikes, quite showy, and quite tasty in teas,
- Salvia verticillata, Whorled clary, Lilac sage, a white- or blue-flowering perennial with the scent of Clary sage.
The aromatic sages strengthen the lungs; they can therefore be used in teas or tinctures to prevent coughs: 2-3 cups a day for 1-2 months, repeat yearly. Less aromatic species of Salvia are run-of-the-mill mint-family anti-inflammatories, which means that they can be used for pretty much any infection or inflammation, and will give at least some relief.
Salvia officinalis, as a cold tea, will stop sweating, while the same tea, drunk hot, will produce sweating. Cold and hot teas will also either stop or enhance milk production.
Salvia apiana, white sage, is a very strong general anti-inflammatory, used as tea or tincture. The tincture has a very nice scent; it can be used as a perfume. This species is the famous whitesage of smudge sticks.
Salvia elegans (old: S. rutilans), Pineapple sage, is a tender perennial with pineapple-scented leaves. Medicinally, this is perhaps closest to the scented geraniums, sweet-smelling Pelargonium species.
Salvia miltiorrhiza, Red sage, is used medicinally in TCM.
The non-aromatic ages are not considered medicinal. You’ll find species like
- Salvia argentea, Silver sage, usually a showy-flowered biennial, it’s named for the color of its foliage,
- Salvia azurea, Blue sage, Azure blue sage; this species has very big bright blue flowers; it’s quite showy
- Salvia coccinea, Blood sage, a scarlet-flowered tender perennial,
- Salvia farinacea, Mealycup sage, grown as an annual in temperate climates, it will survive mild winters,
- Salvia horminum, (syn.: S. viridis), Painted sage, Clary, an annual with showy blue, pink or white flower bracts,
- Salvia patens, a blue-flowering annual,
- Salvia splendens, Scarlet sage, a red-flowering annual,
- Salvia x superba, a purple-flowering perennial.
- Salvia arizonica, Arizona sage, Desert indigo sage, a purple-flowering annual, native to Texas,
- Salvia carnosa, a blue-flowering annual, native to the Arizona desert,
- Salvia columbariae, Chia, Chia sage, California chia, a blue-flowering annual, native to California desert,
- Salvia polystachya, Chia sage, Chia seed,
- Salvia potus, Chia.
The seeds of these species are used as bulk laxatives, much like the seeds of Psyllium (Plantago spp.) or linseed.
Chia has been important in the diet of desert Indians. It is still used for its mucilaginous qualities by Mexican natives.
Salvia divinorum, Diviner’s sage, Yerba de la Pastora (sometimes called just salvia). This plant differs from all the other sages; it’s a Mexican visionary herb, which cannot be grown from seed.
Classification: Sage is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Specific to Salvia divinorum (Diviner’s Sage):
- Botany of Salvia – General Overview
- Diviner’s Sage – General Overview
- Sage Genus – General Overview
- Salvinorin-a – An Explanation
- ska Maria Pastora – A Healing Ceremony
- Mazatec Indians – Curanderos and Shamans
- Salvia Cultivation – Keeping Your Plants Happy & Healthy
- Growing Salvia – The Easy Way
- Salvia for Depression – A Case Study
- Commercializing Diviner’s Sage – from the Washington Post
- Lagochilus inebrians – An intriguing psychoactive member of the Labiatae family
- Salvia splendens. A psychoactive sage???
- Salvia Article from ABC News
- Erowid – Salvia divinorum Vault
- Lycaeum’s Salvia Archives
- Something from the Heffter Research Institute
- USDA info on Salvia divinorum
- A Salvia divinorum summary
- The Drug Policy Alliance – Alternatives to the war on drugs based on science, compassion, and human rights.
- The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE). Working in the public interest to foster freedom of thought.
- MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). Supporting psychedelic research since 1986.
- The Council on Spiritual Practices. Making direct experience of the sacred more available to more people.
- The Media Awareness Project. A worldwide network dedicated to drug policy reform.
- The Drug Reform Coordination Network. A national network of more than 21,000 activists and concerned citizens including parents, educators, students, lawyers, health care professionals, academics, and others working for drug policy reform. DRCNet supports rational policies consistent with the principles of peace, justice, freedom, compassion and truth. Each of these has been compromised in the name of the Drug War.
- Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation’s drug problems.
- The American Civil Liberties Union. Useful drug policy links.