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Salvia officinalis


Salvia officinalis 

[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

Common sage, dalmatian sage, garden sage, true sage, broadleaf sage, echte salie, salvia, sarubia

Original Habitat

Plants of the sage family have been used medicinally since ancient times[1] and have historically been used in cognition and memory.[2] S. officinalis grows to about 60 cm and has soft, greenish, oval-shaped leaves. It produces bluish-purple flowers from which the essential oil is derived. It grows throughout the Mediterranean and is cultivated in many parts of the world. It grows well in dry rocky areas with well drained soil and full sun.

Plant Part Used

Flowering tops


The essential oil of S. offiicinalis is found in foods and beverages, but there are regulations in most countries governing the amount of thujones in the final product. The least restrictive regulations govern the use of the oil in alcoholic beverages. It is used to fragrance soaps and body care products, and is used in perfumes as a top note.[3][4] In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is used as a single oil and in more complex formulations.


The oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of the plant and sometimes from the leaves. The oil is clear to pale yellow in colour, has a warm and spicy aroma and has a thin consistency.

Chemical Constituents

Terpenes: Alpha pinene (3-5%), beta pinene (1-3%), limonene (2-4%)
Sesquiterpenes: Beta carylophyllene (2-6%)"
Terpenic alcohols: Linalool (2-10%), terpinen-4-ol (1-4%) alpha terpineol (2-9%), borneol (3-14%)
Oxides: 1-8 cineole (6-12%)
Ketones: Alpha thujone (10-30%), beta thujone (5-15%), camphor (5-20%) [5]
Esters, sesquiterpenols, aldehydes [6][7]

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

Anti-catarrhal, mucolytic and expectorant +++
Lipolytic and anti-cellulitic ++
Specific antibacterial (Staphylococcus aureus) +++
Fungicidal and antiviral +++
Cholagogue, choleretic ++
Oestrogen-like, emmenagogue +++
Cicatrizing ++

Anti-inflammatory: In an animal model, borneol, a chemical component of common sage, showed anti-inflammatory action.  In TNBS (trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid) induced colitis in mice, this constituent repressed the pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA expression. [8]

Cytotoxicity: S. officinalis essential oil inhibited human tumor growth in an in vitro setting against renal cell adenocarcinoma, hormone dependent prostate carcinoma, amelanotic melanoma and two breast cancer cell lines.[9]

Antimicrobial: Sage and rosemary essential oils were studied for their antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial activity. They were tested against 13 bacterial strains and 6 fungi and 5 dermatomycetes.  Sage essential oil demonstrated moderate antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial activity, however, it was not as strong as the rosemary essential oil.[10]

S. officinalis essential oil was tested against several urine-derived bacterial strains.  They were examined with Ocimum gratissimum and Cybopogum citratus (DC) Stapf. The results showed that the sage oil had the strongest antibacterial activity of all the herbs tested and demonstrated 100% efficiency against Klebsiella and Enterobacter species, 96% against Escherichia coli.[11]

AChE and BChE Inhibitor: Nineteen essential oils and several of their individual chemical constituents were tested against acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE).  It was shown that the whole essential oils, including common sage, inhibited AChE and BChE better than their individual constituents.[12]

Traditional Use

Mucopurulent bronchial and ENT problems +++
Viral diseases: influenza, enteritis, meningitis, and neuritis ++
Wounds, cellulite +++
Labial and genital herpes, condyloma (genital warts), leucorrhea, lesions +++
Amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, pre-menopause +++

Chronic Bronchitis: Administered via inhalation, a combination of S. officinalis, Mentha, Artemisia limonica, Monarda and Lavandula officinalis was used in a small study of patients with chronic bronchitis.  The results were optimal, showing anti-inflammatory activity when inhaled for up to 30 minutes.[13]

Contraindications and Precautions

This essential oil should not be used during pregnancy or on small children.  It is a neurotoxin and abortifacient.

This should be used with caution in those with diabetes due to its potential to amplify hepatocyte sensitivity to insulin.[14]



[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]

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  1)  Botanical Info


  1. Radulescu V. Capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry of volatile and semi-volatile compounds of Salvia officinalis. J Chromatogr A. 20 Feb2004;1027(1-2):121-126.
  2. Tildesley NT. Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers. Physiol Behav. 17 Jan2005;83(5):699-709.
  3. Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
  4. Daniela T. Salvia officinalis l. I. Botanic characteristics, composition, use and cultivation. Article in Slovak. Cesk Farm. Jun1993;42(3):111-116.
  5. Croteau R, Felton M, Karp F, Kjonaas R. Relationship of Camphor Biosynthesis to Leaf Development in Sage (Salvia officinalis). Plant Physiol. 1981;67:820-824.
  6. Perry NB. Essential oils from dalmatian sage (Salvia officinalis l.): variations among individuals, plant parts, seasons and sites. J Agric Food Chem. May1999;47(5):2048-2054.
  7. Raal A. Composition of the essential oil of Salvia officinalis L. from various European countries. Nat Prod Res. May2007;21(5):406-411.
  8. Juhás S. Effects of borneol and thymoquinone on TNBS-induced colitis in mice. Folia Biol (Praha). 2008;54(1):1-7.
  9. Loizzo MR. Cytotoxic activity of essential oils from labiatae and lauraceae families against in vitro human tumor models. Anticancer Res. Sep-Oct2007;27(5A):3293-3299.
  10. Bozin B. Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of rosemary and sage (Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia officinalis L. (Lamiaceae) essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 19 Sep2007;55(19):7879-7885.
  11. Pereira RS. Antibacterial activity of essential oils on microorganisms isolated from urinary tract infection. Article in Portuguese. Rev Saude Publica. Apr2004;38(2):326-328.
  12. Orhan I. Activity of essential oils and individual components against acetyl- and butyrylcholinesterase. Z Naturforsch [C]. Jul-Aug2008;63(7-8):547-553.
  13. Shubina LP. Inhalations of essential oils in the combined treatment of patients with chronic bronchitis. Article in Russian. Vrach Delo. May1990;(5):66-67.
  14. Lima CF. Metformin-like effect of Salvia officinalis (common sage): is it useful in diabetes prevention? Br J Nutr. Aug2006;96(2):326-333.

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