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Sage has a long history of use as a spice and for health purposes. It was used in ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek medicine. In Native American rituals, dried sage is burned to promote healing, wisdom, protection, and longevity.

Today, sage is used as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, sore mouth or throat, memory loss, and depression.

Sage leaves or their extracts are available as liquids, throat sprays, tablets, lozenges, and capsules.

How Much Do We Know?

We don’t know much about the health effects of sage because little research has been done on it.

What Have We Learned?

Sage has not been clearly shown to be helpful for any health condition.

There have been a few studies of sage for sore throat, mood, memory, and blood cholesterol levels. However, the findings are preliminary, and some of the research is of poor quality.

What Do We Know About Safety?

Sage is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is approved for food use as a spice or seasoning. However, some species of sage contain thujone, which can affect the nervous system. Extended use or taking large amounts of sage leaf or oil may result in restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures, and kidney damage. Twelve drops or more of the essential oil is considered a toxic dose.

Keep in Mind

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Sage. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on April 22, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Sage leaf. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:330-334.


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