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9 Emerging Benefits and Uses of Sage Tea

Health + Wellness
Werner Rebel / EyeEm / Getty Images

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Sage tea is an aromatic infusion made from the leaves of common sage (Salvia officinalis), an herb in the same family as mint.


Commonly used as a spice, sage also has a long history of use in alternative and traditional medicine. Notably, its tea is packed with potential health benefits — although scientific research on this drink is still in its preliminary stages.

Here are 9 emerging benefits and uses of sage tea.

1. Rich in Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Compounds

Sage tea contains a variety of powerful plant compounds.

In particular, its antioxidants work to neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals. When these accumulate in your body, they can lead to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Sage tea is particularly high in rosmarinic acid. Animal and test-tube studies have shown that this antioxidant provides numerous benefits, such as decreased inflammation and blood sugar levels.

While inflammation is a natural bodily response, chronic inflammation can increase your risk of illness.

Sage likewise provides a fair amount of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, circulation, and proper blood clotting.

What's more, this tea boasts several other health-promoting compounds, including carnosol and camphor.

In a mouse study, sage extract significantly increased the levels of anti-inflammatory compounds circulating in the blood while decreasing the levels of inflammatory compounds.

Sage tea's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may be responsible for many of its purported benefits, but more human research is necessary.

Summary

Sage tea contains several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, including rosmarinic acid, camphor, and carnosol, to which many of its benefits are attributed.

2. May Promote Healthy Skin and Wound Healing

Sage is a common ingredient in cosmetics that are applied topically as a natural skin care remedy.

It's possible that drinking its tea provides some of the same benefits.

In a test-tube study on mouse skin cells, camphor — one of sage's key compounds — was found to promote healthy skin-cell growth, slow signs of aging, and decrease wrinkle formation.

In addition, an animal study associated this herb's carnosol and carnosic acid with helping treat sun-related skin damage and other inflammatory skin problems.

Other animal studies show that sage extract helps heal cold sores and speeds wound healing.

Moreover, test-tube studies have demonstrated that its extract killed certain harmful bacteria and fungi that could damage your skin.

Summary

Sage contains camphor and carnosol, which can help prevent skin damage. It may also accelerate wound healing and kill harmful bacteria and fungi.

3. Promotes Oral Health

Sage is one of the most popular herbs in dentistry, as it targets pain, inflammation, and bad breath, as well as exerts antibacterial and wound-healing properties.

In fact, gargling sage tea is often recommended as a remedy for mouth wounds and sore throats.

These oral benefits are often attributed to the powerful antioxidant rosmarinic acid.

Furthermore, sage is added to some mouthwashes because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.

Summary

Sage may relieve oral pain and inflammation, as well as bad breath. It has several dental applications due to its antibacterial and wound-healing benefits.

4. May Have Anticancer Properties

There is some evidence that sage tea may help fight cancer cells.

It contains several anticancer compounds, including carnosol, camphor, and rosmarinic acid. In particular, animal and test-tube studies reveal that carnosol can kill several types of cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.

In a study in over 500 people, sage and chamomile teas were linked to a decreased risk of thyroid cancer.

Meanwhile, in a test-tube study, sage tea helped prevent genetic changes that cause colon cancer cell formation.

Although these results are promising, more human research is necessary.

Summary

In test-tube studies, sage tea and its compounds have demonstrated several cancer-fighting effects. However, more studies in humans are needed.

5. Improves Blood Sugar Control

Sage, which is a frequent ingredient in alternative blood sugar medications, may help improve blood sugar levels and prevent or treat type 2 diabetes.

A 2-month study in 105 adults with type 2 diabetes found supplementing with 500 mg of sage extract 3 times daily improved fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood sugar, and hemoglobin A1c — a measure of average blood sugar levels over the previous 3 months.

Meanwhile, a mouse study determined that replacing water with sage tea reduced fasting blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, a test-tube study suggested that sage behaves similarly to insulin — a hormone that helps manage blood sugar levels — by moving sugar in your blood into your cells for storage, thus lowering levels of this marker.

Summary

Sage tea may help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels.

6. May Promote Brain Health and Improve Mood

Sage is widely used in alternative medicine to boost mood, improve memory, and help prevent brain-related disorders like Alzheimer's. Scientific research backs many of these uses.

Alzheimer's progresses due to amyloid plaques that form in the brain. Several test-tube and animal studies indicate that sage and rosmarinic acid may help prevent the formation of these plaques.

In addition, multiple human studies note that sage extracts improve memory, brain function, mood, and focus.

One study in 135 adults found that simply smelling the aroma of this herb boosted memory and mood, compared with a control groups.

Sage may relieve pain as well, but more research is needed on its effects on the brain and nervous system.

Summary

Sage tea may slow the development of Alzheimer's disease, as well as improve mood and memory. However, more research is needed.

7. May Support Women’s Health

Sage may also provide some unique benefits for women.

In the Middle East, pregnant women commonly use sage to treat digestive symptoms like nausea, a common problem early in pregnancy.

Historically, sage has also been utilized as a natural way to reduce breastmilk production in women who are weaning or have an overabundant supply.

However, there is little research to support either of these traditional uses.

Yet, research demonstrates that sage helps reduce hot flashes. An 8-week study in 71 menopausal women found that taking a daily tablet containing fresh sage reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes by 64%.

Summary

Sage is sometimes used to treat nausea in pregnant women and reduce breastmilk production in women who are weaning or have an overabundant supply, but scant research supports these uses. Yet, it may reduce hot flashes in menopausal women.

8. May Boost Heart Health

Some research indicates that sage may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, potentially decreasing your risk of heart disease.

In a small, 4-week study in 6 women, drinking 10 ounces (300 ml) of sage tea twice daily resulted in 16% lower total cholesterol, 20% lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and 38% higher HDL (good) cholesterol.

A 2-month study in 105 people with type 2 diabetes on cholesterol-lowering drugs found that those who took 500 mg of sage extract 3 times daily had healthier levels of triglycerides and all cholesterol markers, compared with those in the control group.

All the same, more research is needed.

Summary

Sage tea may decrease your risk of heart disease by improving your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, though further studies are necessary.

9. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Sage tea is easy to add to your diet, as you can purchase tea bags online or at most grocery stores.

You can also make this aromatic beverage at home with the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of fresh or 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of dried sage
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of water
  • sweetener to taste
  • fresh lemon juice (optional)

Simply bring the water to a boil, then add the sage and steep for about 5 minutes. Strain to remove the leaves before adding your preferred sweetener and lemon juice to taste.

This drink is enjoyable hot or cold.

Summary

Sage tea can be purchased online or at grocery stores. You can also make it yourself using fresh or dried sage.

Precautions and Potential Side Effects

Note that much of the research on sage has been conducted in animals and test tubes and used highly concentrated extracts. While sage tea may provide some of the same benefits, its effects may not be as pronounced. In addition, more human studies are needed.

This beverage may also have a few downsides.

Sage contains a compound called thujone, which provides its strong aroma but can be toxic in high doses.

Drinking extremely large amounts of sage tea — or consuming this herb in other forms — over an extended period may cause heart problems, seizures, vomiting, and kidney damage if you're ingesting more than 3–7 grams of thujone per day.

Yet, sage tea only contains 4–11 mg of this compound per 4 cups (1 liter), so you can safely drink several cups per day with little to no risk of thujone toxicity.

At the same time, you should avoid ingesting sage essential oil or adding it to your tea, as just 12 drops can be toxic.

Sage tea is very safe overall in normal amounts, but if you have any concerns, it's best to consult your healthcare provider.

Summary

Sage tea contains thujone, which can be toxic in high doses. While you should not drink large amounts of this tea for extended periods, drinking a few mugs per day is likely safe.

The Bottom Line

Sage tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

It may promote skin, oral, and brain health, as well as decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other benefits. Nonetheless, further studies are needed.

Sage tea is easy to make at home using fresh or dried leaves. The next time you're cooking with this herb, consider making a pot of tea as well.

Reposted with permission from Healthline.

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