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Salvia sclarea

Salvia sclarea 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Clary sage, muscatel sage, clary wort, eye-bright, common clary, salvia romana.

Original Habitat

This biennial plant is native to Europe, (historically Italy, Switzerland and France). S. sclarea is now cultivated globally. In the Lamiaceae family, Salvia is the largest genus and is used for multiple purposes throughout the world.[1] The plant grows to about 1 metre tall when in bloom with white/pink flowers and broad leaves. It grows well on rocky hillsides, in wooded areas and is found in Europe on roadsides.

Plant Part Used

Flowering tops


The essential oil of S. sclarea is found in many foods, desserts, candies and beverages, particularly in alcoholic beverages including wines. It is added to many types of perfumes to modify the scent of the end-product and is used to fragrance soaps, lotions and household cleaners.[2] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is often used as a single oil, and mixed with other essential oils in formulations. 


The oil is steam-distilled from the flowering tops of the plants with oils of a higher quality being distilled from the fresh plant. It has a thinner consistency and is a golden yellow to olive green in colour. The fragrance is floral, sweet, and herbaceous with a balsamic undertone.[2]

Chemical Constituents

Terpenic alcohols: Linalool (5-15%), alpha-terpineol, geraniol
Terpenic esters: Linalyl acetate (65-75%)
Sesquiterpenol: Sclareol (2-6%)
Terpene, oxide, ketone, aldehyde, ether [1][3][4][5]

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Oestrogen-like ++++
Antispasmodic, relaxant, CNS relaxant ++
Detoxifier ++

Cytotoxic activity: The essential oil of S. sclarea showed cytotoxic activity in vitro against human, peripheral blood, leukemia, pre-B cell lines (NALM-6).[6]

Antifungal: Clary sage essential oil was tested against Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium species and Trichoderma viride, Mucor mucedo and Aspergillus viride, among other fungi.  The oil was most effective against Cladosporium fulvum, Alternaria alternata, Phomopsis helianthi, and Phoma macdonaldii.[7]

Traditional Use

Amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, pre-menopause ++++
Gynecological problems, varicose veins, hemorrhoids ++
Cellular Aging ++
Throat and respiratory infections+[2]

Dysmenorrhea: A study of college age women investigated the effect of aromatherapy on dysmenorrheal.  A mixture of clary sage, lavender and rose essential oils were applied topically in one of three groups; control, placebo or treatment groups. The participants were not using contraceptives and were clear of any reproductive diseases. The results showed that the menstrual cramps were lower in the aromatherapy group than in either of the other two groups tested.[8]

Childbirth: One of the largest aromatherapy studies ever to be conducted examined over 8,000 pregnant women and the use of ten essential oils during delivery. The essential oils were used topically and through inhalation, however did not have any effect on delivery or the need for pain reduction during labor. Conversely, clary sage and chamomile did alleviate pain during labor. It was suggested that these oils reduced fear, pain and anxiety during childbirth.[9]

Contraindications and Precautions

Do not use in pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Do not use in cases of oestrogen dependant mastosis.

This oil has an estrogen-like effect so caution should be taken when using with conventional drug therapies.

The oil is generally non-toxic, but sensitivity has been reported.[10]  



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Pavel F. Composition of the Essential Oils from the Flowers and Leaves of Salvia sclarea L. (Lamiaceae). Cultivated in Slovak Republic. JEOR. 2005 Mar;17(2):141-144.

2.     Lis Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

3.     Pitarokili D. Composition and antifungal activity on soil-borne pathogens of the essential oil of Salvia sclarea from Greece. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Nov 6;50(23):6688-6691.

4.     Dzumayev KK, et al. Essential oils of Salvia sclarea L. produced from plants grown in southern Uzbekistan. J Essen Oil Res.

5.     Souleles C. Constituents of the Essential Oil of Salvia sclarea Growing Wild in Greece. Pharma Biol. 1997;35(3):218-220.

6.     Kuźma L. Chemical Composition and Biological Activities of Essential Oil from Salvia sclarea Plants regenerated in vitro. Molecules. 2009;14(4):1438-1447.

7.     Dzamic A. Chemical Composition and Antifungal Activity of Salvia Sclarea (Lamiaceae) Essential Oil. Arch. Biol. Sci. 2008;60(2):233-237.

8.     Han SH. Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):535-541.

9.     Burns E. The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2000 Feb;6(1):33-34.

10.  Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: Churchill Livingston; 1995.

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