What is Sage Extract?
You’ve probably heard of sage. In fact, you may even have some in your kitchen or in your garden. While sage is native to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, it’s now naturalized in almost every corner of the world. In fact, there are over 900 sage species! Some are decorative, some culinary and others medicinal.
Sage has been known for its medicinal and healing properties since the middle ages. Salvia officinalis is one species of sage that is a well-known and well-researched contributor to the culinary arts and traditional apothecaries. Salvia japonica is another variety that is more commonly used in Chinese traditional medicine.
Our ancestors used sage and its extracts for centuries. But could it benefit us? Sage as a fresh herb or supplemental extract powder is an amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Research shows it can help keep our minds sharp, blood sugar healthy and cholesterol in check.
Sage Extract Benefits
The amount of modern scientific evidence supporting the use of sage is building. Traditionally, sage was most commonly used as an anti-inflammatory and reliever of gastrointestinal distress. More recently, research shows links between sage and cognitive functioning, cholesterol levels and diabetes. The chemical profiles of more species are also better understood now, so we know more about their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (x).
Chronic inflammation is becoming increasingly common. If left untreated, it leads to conditions that can significantly affect quality of life. Some conditions associated with chronic inflammation include joint disorders like arthritis, allergies, cardiovascular disease and diabetes (x).
Sage contains compounds such as flavonoids and phenols that give the herb its anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce chronic inflammation (x, x).
In addition to inflammation, many chronic diseases are linked to harmful free radicals that attack our healthy cells. Free radicals can cause cellular damage, weakening our natural defenses and causing disease. Antioxidants are a vital part of a healthy lifestyle because they help protect cells and neutralize free radicals, thereby helping to prevent chronic disease (x).
Sage packs quite the punch in the antioxidant department by containing about 160 polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that have antioxidative properties when consumed (x).
Supports Brain Function in Young and Old
Sage extract may play an exciting role in the world of cognitive health. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a very common but devastating disease that affects millions worldwide. In the United States, it is the third leading cause of death among older people (x).
Researchers are studying sage in relation to AD and cognitive decline, and results so far are promising. Thanks to the antioxidants and other chemical compounds it possesses, research shows it may help decrease the rate at which Alzheimer’s develops. It might do this by slowing the deterioration of ACH (acetylcholine) that acts as a chemical messenger imperative to memory (x).
In a study, Alzheimer’s patients in the early stages of the disease were given either a sage extract or placebo. Those who took the sage had improved general memory, problem-solving ability and overall increased cognitive functioning (x).
Even healthy individuals with no signs of Alzheimer’s can benefit from sage’s ability to improve thinking. There are numerous studies to show that sage contributes to improved memory, increased concentration and more general alertness (x, x, x).
Helps Manage Blood Sugar and Insulin
Sage leaf extract can be a way to manage the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes. Animal studies show that sage extract has the ability to activate receptors that clear fatty acids from the blood, which then allows for more insulin sensitivity. It can also help reduce oxidative stress associated with the condition (x).
There are limited human trials for this research, however, and it’s important to note that the use of sage extract should not be considered an end-all treatment of diabetes. It’s simply a natural alternative to some common drugs such as metformin and rosiglitazone. Seek professional medical advice if you plan to implement sage extract powder into your diet as a way to manage your diabetes (x, x, x).
Having high cholesterol, especially high LDL cholesterol, can lead to heart disease. Sage can boost your body’s HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) while simultaneously decreasing the less desirable LDL cholesterol. This helps prevent the build-up of plaque in blood vessels that can lead to heart disease or stroke. The use of sage extract or sage leaf tea in combination with a plant-based diet may help reduce risk factors associated with heart disease (x, x).
Adding Sage to Your Diet
Want to add sage to your diet but not sure where to start? It’s actually very easy to incorporate into the kitchen. Just make sure the type of sage you’re eating is edible! It has a distinct, earthy flavor that can sometimes have citrus, pine or eucalyptus notes, depending on the variety. Fresh leaves have a stronger flavor than the dried herb, but both can add nutrition and flavor to your meals. It’s also available as a tea. If you’re looking for sage in higher doses but don’t care for the taste, a supplement might be a good alternative.
The Salvia officinalis variety of sage is packed with vitamins and minerals, and according to the USDA National Nutrition Database (x), just one teaspoon of ground, dried sage contains:
Percentages in relation to reference daily intake (RDI).
Utilizing even just a small amount of sage each day can boost your intake of vitamins and minerals you may not always get in your diet, such as vitamin K.
Sage Extract Dosage and Side Effects
As a dietary supplement, take 3,200 mg (scant 1 1/2 tsp) of sage extract powder once daily, or as directed by a physician.
As with all supplements, keep in mind that this is not a substitute for legitimate medical advice. Always talk to a doctor first if you are experiencing problems with your health.
If you have liver and kidney disorders, do not use this supplement. The same goes for women who are pregnant/nursing and those with a history of blood pressure problems, diabetes or seizure disorders. Do not take at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery. If you experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting or a rapid heart rate, discontinue supplementation and see a doctor immediately.
Sage extract can be toxic to small children.
The Bottom Line
Sage is a revered and well studied group of plants that has become a staple in kitchens as well as medicine cabinets. There are many varieties of sage, so reading labels is important for understanding exactly what you’re taking. Whether you’re looking for an occasional natural treatment for inflammation, to boost cognitive functioning or to manage diabetes, there may be a role for this multi-purpose herb. It’s easy to take advantage of its amazing antioxidant benefits by using it in cooking, as a tea or through a dietary supplement.