Podcast 213: Herbs A-Z: Salvia

Today’s herbs are sage & rosemary – two herbs whose botanical name Salvia indicates they can keep us “safe, healthy, and secure”, if we go with a literal translation. Sounds pretty good to us! And tastes good, too…

Sage, Salvia officinalis, is the subject of a great many old sayings & adages, like “if a man would live for aye [forever], then should he eat sage in Maye” – or, “why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?” (We’d like to point out that sage is good for women and enbies too, just for the record!) Ryn’s personal favorite is this one: “Sage, make green the winter rain / charm the demons from my brain!” As a mental awakener and mind-sharpener, sage is hard to beat. It’s amazing for digestive sluggishness too, especially when that involves difficulty digesting fats. But don’t relegate it to food applications only – sage can be beautiful in formulae for cocktails or mocktails, bitters blends, and nervine elixirs.

Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus, was categorized in its own genus as Rosmarinus officinalis until 2017. Well, we’ve had six years to get used to it, and we’re aaaalmost there – but you should still know both names, because in a lot of good herbal books you’ll only find it under the older name. It’s an excellent cerebral circulatory stimulant, aromatic carminative, and hepatic stimulant herb. Rosemary is an herb for remembrance, also, as Shakespeare’s Ophelia tells us in Hamlet. See how much this herb has in common with sage? They go great together, or with lavender and other aromatic mints. Try them in concert with sweet herbs, too – a “sweet heat” blend of sage, rosemary, monarda, fennel, goji, and a pinch of licorice is one of Ryn’s favorites recently.

Sage & rosemary are featured herbs in our Neurological & Emotional Health course. Although often when herbalists refer to “nervine” herbs, they mean relaxants and gentle sedatives, the term can also be applied to stimulants, like these two herbs. They can awaken and enliven nerve activity, and mental activity too.

This course is a user’s guide to your nerves & your emotions – including the difficult and dark ones. We discuss holistic herbalism strategies for addressing both neurological & psychological health issues. It includes a lengthy discussion of herbal pain management strategies, too!

Like all our offerings, these are self-paced online video courses, which come with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!

Neuro Emo

If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:16):
And we’re here at Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:20):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. Yes.

Katja (00:24):
Woo, there. I almost forgot the woohoo.

Ryn (00:26):
You do the woohoo. I do the mm-hmm. And then we can start. Yeah. That’s how this works.

Katja (00:31):
All right. Having done those things.

Ryn (00:33):
Today we have our saviors here before us. We’re going to be talking about sage and rosemary. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Katja (00:41):
Two of our favorite plants.

Ryn (00:43):
Two of our favorite plants once again. But before that, I want to give you a little mini advertisement. And say when I think sage, and I think rosemary, the next thing I think of is lovely lavender.

Katja (00:56):
It’s true.

Ryn (00:57):
Which is not just what we call lavender most of the time. It’s also the name of a $10 course that we offer to you to help you understand why lavender is more than soap.

Katja (01:07):
Oh my goodness. Honestly, most of the soap that’s lavender soap isn’t even real lavender. So, if you don’t like lavender soap, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t like real lavender.

Ryn (01:17):
Yeah. But the smell is powerful. But lavender is even more than just aromatherapy, you know? So, we’ve got this course. And it’ll teach you all about how to work with lavender, how to grow it, how to harvest it, how to make it into your own remedies. That’s pretty cool.

Katja (01:32):
Yeah. And stuff that is beyond just smelling it. Like lavender as an antiseptic wound wash, for example.

Ryn (01:41):
Yeah. Burn care. Sugar scrub for the old pores. Mm-hmm.

Katja (01:46):
Or the new pores.

Ryn (01:47):
Or the new ones. Why not?

Katja (01:48):
You know, you might be young.

Ryn (01:49):
That’s fine. So, this is one of our shorter courses. This one has three hours of video. It’s got PDF quick guides for you. You can download the MP3s of the audio and take them with you on the go. There are discussion threads incorporated into each lesson, so you can ask your questions without even pausing the video if you want to. You get lifetime access to this course once you buy it. Wow. That’s a good deal.

Katja (02:14):
Also, it’s a really great way. Like you listen to us on the pod every time that we release the pod, however frequent that is or isn’t. And you might think that’s pretty cool. But then you might be like well, I think I would like to take classes with them. But I don’t really know what their online course platform is like. And do I like the videos, and do I this and that? Well hey, 10 bucks and you can find out.

Ryn (02:39):
Yeah. And you’ll even get access to our live twice-a-week Q&A sessions.

Katja (02:46):
Yeah. If you’ve ever wanted to talk back to us while we were talking in the pod, live Q&A is your chance.

Ryn (02:53):
That’s the place to do it. Yeah. And our student community, which has been growing and thriving and really active lately. And it’s like Facebook, but so much better.

Katja (03:03):
Only cool people are there.

Ryn (03:05):
Talking about plants, gardening tips, formula recipes, all kinds of good stuff.

Katja (03:11):
Lately people are talking about organizing their apothecaries. That’s been a really fun conversation.

Ryn (03:19):
Yeah. So, you can find lovely lavender and all of our course offerings at online.commonwealthherbs.com. That’s the place. Okay. And then one more thing before we jump into today’s topic. This is where we…

Katja (03:32):
See how much more smoothly things go. The last episode I did by myself. And like when you are here, everything goes very smooth. We have an outline. We don’t forget anything.

Ryn (03:44):
It’s the power of the text file. I’m a big believer in dot txt, I’ll tell you. So, here’s where we remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (03:59):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalist in the United States. So, these discussions are for educational purposes only.

Ryn (04:11):
We want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as an objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, experiences, and goals. So, keep in mind that we’re not attempting to present a single dogmatic right way that you should adhere to.

Katja (04:28):
Everyone’s body is different. So, the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope that they’ll give you some new information to think about and some ideas to research further or experiment with further. That’s a thing, a little tangent I’ve been thinking about lately.

Ryn (04:44):
Research and experiments. I like it.

Katja (04:45):
Right. Especially as all the hubbub over AI keeps growing and growing and growing. And the internet becomes a more and more challenging place to do research. I was like, but you know, actually that’s less of a problem. Because herbalism is so much more about experimentation. Yeah. Okay. Well, anyway. Sorry.

Ryn (05:05):
All right. And also finding your way to better health is both your right and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey, and it doesn’t mean that you’re to blame for your current state of health. But it does mean that the final decision when you’re considering any course of action, whether it was discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, that’s always your choice to make. Yes, okay. So, sage, rosemary. Two salvias both alike in dignity in fair the garden where we lay our scene.

Katja (05:39):
You just had that? That was not in the text file, y’all. He just had that.

Sage: More Than Just a Dinner Flavoring

Ryn (05:45):
Yeah. But if you can’t do the first few lines of Romeo and Juliet, like you have to give your degree back. It’s this whole thing. Don’t worry, Shakespeare is not done with us today, but first, sage.

Katja (05:58):
But first, sage.

Ryn (06:00):
Sage. Salvia officinalis. The original and old school salvia.

Katja (06:05):
Sage is such an important plant to me. And actually I am pretty certain I owe that to you. And normally the way that this kind of story goes is the reverse. Because normally this story goes something like… This is Ryn’s voice. I was a martial arts teacher. I did this and that. I did the other thing. And then I met this girl, and she had herbs. And wow, now I know about herbs.

Ryn (06:37):
That sounds just like me. That’s exactly like me.

Katja (06:43):
But this time I have to say that sage was not like anywhere near my top 10 list of plants. I just, you know, whatever. It was nice in sausage, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. And then…

Ryn (07:01):
It was not your cup of tea.

Katja (07:03):
It wasn’t yet. It wasn’t yet. And then you were doing your first or second. Maybe it was your second. I think your first herb of the week ever was centaury, or herb of the month. And I think sage was your second herb of the month. And that’s when I really started noticing sage and thinking of it in terms of something more than like dinner flavoring. And I think it’s worth saying that. Because this was a long time ago, but still. At any point in your herbal journey, there are herbs that you have just not really paid much attention to. Or oh, those are just in the kitchen or whatever.

Ryn (07:49):
Yeah. I think this is often like a thing for our culinary plants, you know. And there’s even a few that I keep being like oh, I really need to just take a week and make tea with – I don’t know – cumin every day.

Katja (08:02):
Yeah. I wonder what that would be like.

Ryn (08:03):
Yeah, or I don’t know. Or other things where it’s like well, it lives in the spice rack. And it’s happy there, so just leave it there.

Katja (08:09):
Just leave it there, yeah. And you know, so anyway. If you have herbs in the kitchen, and they’re not also in your apothecary. Maybe you don’t give them all the attention that they deserve. That’s fine. That’s okay. Their time will come for you. And so don’t be thinking like every herb has to be the center of my focus all of the time. No, these things…

Ryn (08:43):
And there are some that you’ll, you know, try out as tea your tincture. And you’ll be like yeah, this really belongs in the dinner. That’s where it goes. And that’s okay too. But having taken it as tea, having taken it as tincture, that will give you a whole new appreciation for those plants and a much better understanding of them and their medicinal potentialities.

Katja (09:06):
And when that happened with sage, it turned out that sage became a really important herb in my life, and in particular a really important nervine in my life. And none of that was stuff I expected. I just had it in the “put it in sausage. It helps you digest fat” category.

Ryn (09:28):
Which it really does.

Katja (09:30):
Which it really does, yeah. Sage is warming. It has some bitter action, but the bitter is not in the forefront. So, the bitter is still doing work in your body. But it is not like you put it in your sausage, and all you taste is bitter sausage. That isn’t what happens. But still there is that bitterness there.

Ryn (09:57):
Yeah. There’s just so much aromatics that the bitter doesn’t get in the way. And I feel the same way about the astringent element in sage. Sage is a decently astringent herb, but it’s one that I never really have trouble drinking. And I think there may be like commensurately astringent plants who just don’t have the aromatic flood or swoosh that sage offers, and that I get a little more like nah, that’s too drying for me about it.

Helping With Overwhelm & The Gut-Brain Axis

Katja (10:26):
Yeah. Okay. Well, it’s that whoosh actually. Well, it’s the whoosh and the astringency. Whoosh, that’s the technical term, right? It’s those two things together that I think are doing the brunt of the work in the emotional sphere. Because when I want sage as a nervine, it is usually when I am feeling really overwhelmed. And then it has taken a bad turn. You know, like you can feel overwhelmed. And then you can kind of commiserate with somebody else or be in camaraderie. And it can be kind of funny and whatever. Okay, when it’s not that, it’s ugly, actually. To be overwhelmed and just feel like you can’t stop. There’s no one who will help you. There’s usually someone who would help you, but you can’t see that, right? And everything is like never going to be done, and it’s going to be done wrong. And just everything as the worst possible outcome is the only outcome you can see, even though honestly it rarely turns out that way. But in that point of overwhelm, that’s like all there is that you can really focus on. And it’s a certain kind of falling apart. It’s almost like, hmm. It’s almost like falling in on yourself, this kind of overwhelm. Because you can no longer see any of the parts of the world that could be available to help you, or any of the parts in the world that are going right. Or any of the parts that have felt overwhelming in the past and ended up okay. Like you can’t see any of that. And so it’s just this kind of like crumbling in.

Ryn (12:32):
Yeah. But that’s interesting, because you’re talking about feeling overwhelmed and then the sort of collapsing in thing. And it’s like yeah, if you have like a tin can. But it’s at the bottom of the ocean, and it’s getting crushed by the outward pressure. Something heavy and liquid and coming in at all sides. But if we have something that can increase some inner movement, and build up some boundaries, and push some pressure back outwards from the inside, then you can hold yourself stable.

Katja (13:02):
That was such exactly the description that I was trying to make and not making. And that was it perfectly.

Ryn (13:07):
This is why we do this together,

Katja (13:09):
Yeah. So, sage really helps you like pick your head up. It helps you kind of expand yourself outward. It helps you simultaneously pull yourself together. Because even though it’s like a crumbling in on yourself, it is still falling apart. It’s just like falling apart inside you. And so just sort of like pulling yourself together and getting your chin back up again. Yeah, it is an amazing plant. And in particular – I don’t know who needs to hear this today – but in particular when you have that feeling of I’m overwhelmed. There’s no one to help me. Okay, there is someone who could help me or maybe multiple someones, but they would do it wrong. And I would just have to do it again anyway. And so it wouldn’t really be any help. I’m so alone. I’m so overwhelmed. When it is that particular kind of overwhelm, sage is really super good at it. And all of these different things also have a little humor for me. Because if you go back to the really old books – Hippocrates, the old, old books – they associate sage with psychosis. But the meaning of the word psychosis was very, very different back then. And it was so much more like you’re stuck in your head. And you’re not able to be in reality anymore, because you’re just in this dark place in your head. And oh, you need support to get through whatever is happening for you.

Ryn (15:12):
I’m thinking of like psyche, it’s the mind, but it’s a butterfly. And it’s the image for the mind because it flits from thing to thing. And it doesn’t settle around. But then that’s also making me think of like butterflies in your stomach. And sometimes we get butterflies in our stomach because we have too much of our mind jumbling around. And that causes the stomach to get jumbled around. Because the butterflies are in your belly. Yeah, okay.

Katja (15:37):
Yeah. No, this is really good, right? And it’s that whole gut-brain axis thing going on. Yeah.

Ryn (15:44):
And really the idea of this gut-brain axis thing going on, that really does make a lot of sense for sage. So often when we’re looking at problems along this gut to brain axis, we’re looking at excess permeability usually starting in the intestines, but also affecting like your blood-brain barrier. Even in a very literal way, not only as metaphor, right? And then we have sage coming in and improving digestive fire. Helping you to break things down into absorbable nutrient parts instead of things that your immune system looks at as a threat. We have sage with the astringency tightening up the gut barrier and improving integrity there. And then we have sage as a cerebral stimulant moving blood and circulation up into your brain. Famously, along with rosemary, now being studied for problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia. But just to say it can bring in some fresh blood. It can bring in some fresh movement into your mind and stabilize there as well.

Katja (16:44):
Almost like it helps you break down nutrients that are hard to break down, that are challenging to digest. Also, it can help you break down thoughts and emotions that are challenging to digest, like mentally digest. Yeah.

Ryn (17:02):
Yeah. And again, especially the ones that are kind of heavy, or weighing you down, or take a lot of energy to pull apart and get the good stuff out of them. Yeah. This happens so often in herbalism where you start thinking about the effect of the herb on the physiology. And then that gives you this metaphorical connection to something else. And then, you know, as our science advances we start to be like oh, that metaphor isn’t.

Katja (17:31):
No. That actually was literal.

Ryn (17:33):
That’s what’s going on exactly. That’s a very precise way to describe it. Thanks.

Katja (17:37):
Yeah. You know, because we think that emotions are like this esoteric kind of like non-tangible sort of thing. And the more that we learn, the more that we realize not so much. Yeah.

Rosemary: A Pivot Point Between Sage & Lavender

Ryn (17:48):
Right. Well, shall we talk about Rosemary then?

Katja (17:53):
We shall. Okay, so rosemary has been reclassified, and it is now in the sage family.

Ryn (18:05):
Yeah. Apparently, that really got rolling in 2017. So, we’ve had like six years to get used to it now. And we’re almost there.

Katja (18:14):
I mean, we’re kind of used to it.

Ryn (18:15):
We’re almost there, yeah. Well, we did change the label on the jar in the apothecary. That took at least four years, just to be clear.

Katja (18:25):
Yeah. You know, so this is a thing that happens from time to time. When the taxonomic, taxon, taxomic, taxonomy.

Ryn (18:35):

Katja (18:37):
Yeah. Well, anyway, when the classifications were being made, we used the tools that we had available. And those tools were mostly sensorial. And so things went into families because they looked similar to one another, or because they had similar effects, or similar actions, or similar properties that were sensable. Sense-able. And now the botanists are classifying things according to DNA. And to be honest, I think sometimes it is better to have them classified with the actual senses, simply because that’s what you’ve got when you’re out with plants. Like you don’t have a DNA testing laboratory available to you when you’re out with plants. And I mean, anyway, these categories are all just for humans. So, I guess it doesn’t really matter what we do. And all of the names also they’re just for humans. That’s not their names.

Ryn (19:57):
Yeah. You know, the recategorization logic was basically like well, you know, by their genetic profiles. Not just rosemary, but some others like Perovskia, which was Russian sage. That also got moved from Perovskia genus into Salvia genus. It was like we could move like five or six genera into the Salvia and put them together, or we could break Salvia into like 70 or 700 different genera. And I think they thought that that would be more of a pain. So, you know, human stuff. Science stuff. Look. Rosemary, whether it was Rosmarinus officinalis, or now it’s Salvia rosmarinus, it was always a mint family plant in the Lamiaceae. And when you look at the flowers of rosemary, and the flowers of sage, and the flowers of mint, and the flowers of lavender for that matter, you can see like oh yeah. These are all…

Katja (20:57):
They’re all the same flowers.

Ryn (20:58):
They’re doing the mint family flower shape thing, you know? Line of symmetry right down the middle, some lobes up top, some other lobes down on the bottom. Yeah.

Katja (21:07):
I really think that you can make a pivot point out of rosemary between sage and lavender. And so you’ve got sage on one hand and lavender on the other end. And in the middle is rosemary. And I think that is pretty accurate in terms of action as well. Like sage. Sage is like the lowest working action, if you think about it. And then rosemary, yes, has digestive action. But also, it’s upper than sage. Not that sage isn’t up, but rosemary is upper. And then lavender is like the most up. And it doesn’t have no digestive aspect, but it’s like really in the background.

Ryn (21:56):
You get some relaxation. You certainly get a little bit of liver stimulus from it but more from rosemary and more from sage.

Katja (22:04):
Yeah. It’s just sort of like a progression there. Well, you know, one thing that I want to talk about with rosemary is actually… So, okay. We have this fantastic course called Basic Phytochemistry, which Ryn pretty much teaches alone. He filmed it all alone and everything, mostly because at the time I was filming something else that I can’t remember what I was filming.

Ryn (22:34):
The children’s health course.

Katja (22:34):
Oh yeah. We had like done divide and conquer. But also because Ryn loved phytochemistry first and still loves it more than me. I see it as kind of like oh, right. That’s a handy thing. I should definitely know that. And not ah, what a delightful thing that I would like to put into my brain.

Ryn (23:03):
For you it’s more like well, these are the parts that matter, and that I can really do something with or need to know about to practice safely or whatever else. And for me I’m like that’s great. But I would also just like to know all of the thing and see all the diagrams. And I want to see how the shapes are like each other. And I want…you know. So, I’ll get lost in that for a long time.

Apoptosis & Why Phytochemistry Matters

Katja (23:25):
Okay. But here’s the thing. Rosemary is a prime example of one of the places where phytochemistry seriously matters. And that is because there’s a lot of research done on rosemary with regard to cancer. And listen, there are no herbs that will cure cancer. That’s not how it works. But there are lots of herbs that will assist the body in managing cancer. And if your cancer isn’t too far progressed, that can be super, super helpful. And if you have cancer in the family, but you haven’t gotten it yet, that’s even more helpful.

Ryn (24:11):
Yeah. Cancer is this thing where too often people are only looking at it when it’s fully advanced, and it’s kind of been around for a long time. Because tumors, they start as a cell or two, right, that gets a little bit weird in its DNA instructions copying over to the new generation of cell. And now it’s a little strange. And now it’s like really sugar hungry. And now it’s growing. And now it refuses to die. And oh, now it’s causing other cells around it to behave that way. Oh, and now it’s a lump you can feel, right?

Katja (24:43):
And it’s really big.

Ryn (24:45):
So, on the one hand we might say that there aren’t plants that are going to cure cancer when we’re talking about it’s been in your body for a decade. Or however many years it’s been building and developing to the point that we can feel it, or see it, or detect it, or whatever. But on the other hand, almost every plant that has been looked at to have some anti-cancer or preventative effects, you find one. So, it’s like no plants can cure cancer. All plants can cure cancer. Yeah. Okay.

Katja (25:17):
Okay. So, one of the big things that they have studied about rosemary is that it supports apoptosis, which is a super fun word to say. And apoptosis just means cells checking out when it is their time. And that’s the thing with cancer, right? That the cells refuse to… We say refuse to die. And I think the better metaphor probably in this time and place is they refuse to log off and stop working. Like, you know, quitting time was five o’clock. And it’s now 10:00 PM, and you’re still checking your email for work. So that, but cancer cells, right? That’s what’s going on with them. And apoptosis is just we are closed. It is time to stop. And so cancer overrides that process. Every cell has a programmed time that it knows is quitting time. And cancer is when many things have happened. But one of the things that happens is quitting time doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all work all the time. And okay, so rosemary is one of the plants that can help reinstate quitting time. But the phytochemical constituents that are researched in relation to that work are heavy. And for a long time you saw a lot of essential oils, like rosemary essential oils, being touted for oh, it prevents cancer. Or even oh, it cures cancer. Which it’s not like that. So, people were like well, I’m going to drink rosemary essential oil. I’m just going to put a drop in my water. Don’t do this. I’m going to put a drop of rosemary essential oil in my water, and then I’m going to drink it because it’s going to keep me cancer free. But the elements that are in the essential oil are the lightest elements. So, every chemical at the molecular stage has a weight. And if that weight is basically lighter than air, it’s an essential oil. It will evaporate. And you can capture it in that essential oil. And if it is heavier than air, you cannot capture it in the essential oil, but you can get it in tea.

Ryn (27:58):
And food and yeah, other things.

Katja (28:00):
Yes. Exactly. And so, minerals are like this. There are no minerals in the essential oil. They’re way too heavy. If you want the minerals, you have to eat the plant or drink it as a long infusion or a decoction or whatever. Okay. So, that is the case with rosemary. The constituents that are responsible for making sure that your cells quit on time and don’t work all night are heavy. They’re not in the essential oil, but they are in the tea. They are in the plant as food. And so if you want those effects, you need tea. Essential oil is not going to do it. But you won’t know that. And you won’t be able to look at that marketing and say that’s not accurate. That’s totally scammy. If you don’t know some stuff about phytochemistry. Even though phytochemistry might be a little intimidating, it really is very helpful. And this is exactly the kind of time when it is.

Ryn (28:58):
Yeah. These kinds of things that can give that answer with some degree of finality to it. To be like look, you can take that preparation. It’s great for aromatherapy. There have been some benefits found for people having the scent of rosemary in the air or in their environment to help with clarity of thought and things like that. But if you’re really focused on this supposed anti-cancer activity, well, most of the research is pointing at this rosmarinic acid stuff. And that’s not going to turn up in your essential oil. And here’s the reason why, right? And it can make it just very, very clear and very straightforward. And that’s much more actionable phytochem.

Katja (29:41):
Yeah, very practical. It just helps you to get a reality check about whether claims that are being made about an herb even have the possibility to be accurate or not.

Rosemary for Remembrance & Delicious Things

Ryn (29:55):
Yeah. I had mentioned that Shakespeare would return. And with rosemary it’s in Hamlet, right? It’s the bit where Ophelia is feeling sad because Hamlet’s being a dick for reasons, whatever. But she’s upset. And so she’s going around to all the people at the court. And she’s handing out flowers. And she says rosemary, that’s for remembrance. I hope you’ll remember me. And I always bring this up when we talk about rosemary. And the reason is because…

Katja (30:31):
Because why not bring up Shakespeare whenever you can.

Ryn (30:34):
Oh, sure. Yeah. That’s always good, right? But because this wasn’t something that people in the audience at the time were baffled by. They weren’t like why is this weird lady giving out flowers and telling them that rosemary means this, and violets mean that, and pansies mean this other thing? Oh, that’s just her being crazy. I get it. No, that’s not that it at all. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is like in the middle of court to be draggled and handing out wildflowers to the people in their finery while they’re trying to – I don’t know – sentence someone to death.

Katja (31:10):
Right. So, that scene was trying to illustrate that Ophelia was not okay in the head. But naming the plants and what they can help you with, that wasn’t the illustrative part. It was the manner and time in which she was doing it.

Ryn (31:25):
Yeah. And so this goes along with things that people might call the language of flowers. Where you have a bouquet, and it’s got a color scheme, but it also has a secret message. And if there’s rosemary in there, it’s like you better not forget.

Katja (31:40):
We don’t really attend to the language of flowers anymore. In fact, in this country we don’t really attend to flowers so much anymore. And I don’t know what it’s like in Europe now today. So any of y’all listening in Europe can let me know. But when I lived there in the eighties and early nineties, you took flowers anytime you went to someone’s home. Like even as a teenager, I took flowers places regularly because that was the appropriate thing to do. And people still knew the meanings of flowers. And so I did not. And there were certain times that florists had to be like you can’t take that flower. Or they would say where are you going? And I would tell them. And they would be like, this is not appropriate. You cannot take that. And I didn’t understand why.

Ryn (32:33):
Like that’s a flower for mourning or something.

Katja (32:35):
Yeah. I had to be taught why that flower was not appropriate for a baby being born or something or whatever. Because they weren’t just buying them because oh, I don’t know. I guess that one’s pretty. They still had the meanings behind the flowers.

Ryn (32:56):
So, I think it’s fun to try to… whether to reawaken or reinvent those kinds of things. I guess turmeric would be a message of like keep your cool.

Katja (33:11):
Well, what we’re discussing right now are very European traditions around the flower meanings and stuff. I think in other parts of the world, they would have totally different ones. Yeah. Totally different flowers and possibly different meanings for them. And different meanings for flowers that might overlap. Or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they would be the same.

Ryn (33:33):
Yeah. Rosemary can still be about memory, though. I mean, a lot of people have heard about oh, I heard that’s good for Alzheimer’s. I heard that’s good for dementia. That kind of thing. And you know, when you read those studies or those investigations, it’s like we reduce the visible expressions of anxiety and discomfort by 20%. It’s not that this person suddenly remembers where their keys were 20 years ago that they lost and have been looking for ever since. Or this person has no trouble recognizing all of their extended family when they visit now. That’s not what people are talking about with this. If that’s the kind of effect you want, you need to start long before the diagnosis. Long before the worry. Long before the suspicion of people in your life that maybe they’re starting to go, you know? And I encourage that, because you can find ways to make both sage and rosemary a part of your life and to be very delicious and wonderful. And not only in, you know, sausages and fatty meals and stuff like that. Although, hey. Put it in there? That’s great. Yeah. But I did want to spend some time talking about delicious things with both sage and rosemary. And one of them is this kombucha I’ve been drinking here today. So, I’m not going to like advertise for Brew Doctor or whatever. They don’t give us money or any of that. Although if they’re watching, Hi.

Katja (35:00):
No, but he just legit likes this and drinks it all the time.

Ryn (35:05):
Yeah. So, this is this formula. And they call it clear mind. And they put rosemary and mint and sage and green tea together. And good job. This is like a reasonable herbal formula, you know? These are absolutely herbs that can increase cerebral circulation and clear out the cobwebs. And, you know, there’s this old English saying about sage. And it’s sage make green the winter rain. Charm the demons from my brain. And we hear in that like oh yeah, seasonal affective disorder. Oh yeah, like cold, stagnant, watery type depression stuff. But also just that whoosh you were talking about earlier. Like clear the cobwebs right out of there, you know? So, I like this formula a lot. It tastes good and…

Katja (35:51):
I want to interrupt you completely. No, I want to emphasize that the name of it is Clear Mind. And somebody looking at the ingredients might say, well that’s because green tea has caffeine. And that’s not what’s going on here. I mean yes, green tea does have caffeine. And that certainly is part of the formula. But that’s not what this formula is about. To me looking at this formula, I think of the caffeine as like the last part of it. Maybe even just the catalyst kind of part of it.

Ryn (36:25):
Yeah. And I mean, you know, this is kombucha. So they had to start with some kind of tea. And they chose green tea this time.

Katja (36:31):
But it’s also in terms of caffeination, it’s pretty mild. Yeah. But I just wanted to kind of point out. Because it’s easy to be like oh, well it’s just the caffeine. The rest of the stuff is just there for flavor. And that’s not what’s going on in a formula like this at all.

Ryn (36:48):
Yeah. Because flavor is… Well, flavor is phytochemistry, right? Flavor is herbal actions sensible to us because we evolved, and the plants were around. And we needed some way to make sense of them. And turns out we can do that with our tongues and our noses.

Katja (37:05):
The portable chemistry lab we carry around with us all of the time.

Mixing Mint, Sweet Heat, & Tarragon

Ryn (37:11):
Yeah. So, that’s a sage and rosemary combo I really love. Actually putting sage with mint, sage or rosemary together with mint is quite good. And even some people who don’t really love mint very much might find it more acceptable next to some sage and some rosemary.

Katja (37:29):
That’s such an appropriate word. Acceptable. That’s the word, yeah. I don’t know. We’re talking specifically about peppermint. There’s a blend that I really love for menstruation. And I will say it’s because that is often a time that those feelings of overwhelm get out of control for me. Like that’s a kind of part of PMS for me. And so I really enjoy pennyroyal and mugwort and sage. And usually somebody like red clover will go in there. Like some kind of lymphatic mover will go in there as well.

Ryn (38:15):
Sometimes heather you put in.

Katja (38:17):
Yeah, heather is quite nice also. But the pennyroyal and the sage together – well, and also with the mugwort – just the flavor is fantastic. But mugwort isn’t a mint, so okay. But the pennyroyal and sage. First off of all the minty mints, pennyroyal is the one that I think is tasty. But secondly, you really have a full range of movement with a formula like that in terms of digestive movement, circulatory movement, lymphatic movement, just getting things moving. And also emotional movement. So, if your kind of PMS tends to be damp and heavy and slow and stuck and stagnant, then it’s a very lifting, moving formula for the whole. I’m thinking like from the brain all the way down the trunk, you know?

Ryn (39:15):
Nice. Yeah, that’s a really good one. One thing I’ve been making pretty frequently. I guess less so as it’s been getting warmer around here.

Katja (39:24):
Oh, but when it was still cold, you were making this all the time.

Ryn (39:28):
Yeah. And mentally I was calling it sweet heat. And I would put sage and rosemary and monarda or thyme or oregano or all of them. And that’s the heat portion, all right? And then sweet herbs like fennel and goji. And if it’s just for me, then some licorice root as well. And so there’s something about those very hot aromatics and these really smooth feeling, sweet herbs and getting them together. Because sometimes if I was to drink just monarda and thyme and sage, or like rosemary and oregano together, it does feel good and hot, but also a bit sharp, especially in the throat. And including the fennel, the goji, the licorice in there, it really smooths it over. And there’s a little coating effect as you swallow. And I found it much more pleasant. But yeah, that formula can be good and hot. There was this one time a few weeks ago, I think, or maybe just a couple weeks where I made a big pot of it. And I was really enthusiastic about it. I was like drinking it as soon as it was tolerable. Like it was still super hot. And I drank a quart in like, I don’t know, less than one hour. And I started sweating. I was red in the face and everywhere. My ears were turning bright. I was like I’ve got to take off some layers. Okay. Take my socks off and everything. I was like oh, this is great. This is like an herbal stimulant diaphoretic in action. This is like a proving, they call it, you know, to really feel that. So, that’s good stuff.

Katja (41:06):
Also, I love how all of your tea blends have names, even if you don’t tell them to people. You always have names for your tea blends. And they’re always so cute. And I never name anything. In fact, I often don’t even remember what I put in it. I don’t know. I just appreciate that about you.

Ryn (41:27):
Well, anyway. Sweet heat. Give it a try. I don’t know. Do you have any other sage and or rosemary combos that you love?

Katja (41:35):
Well, okay. We do probably have to mention the thing that we always mention, which is smells good. And really, it’s just a spray bottle full of water with some essential oils in it. It’s what I use to clean. Even if I’m just feeling like the house is kind of stuffy, I’ll just spray it in the air. But that started off just being rosemary and lavender and has branched out now to be like sage, basil, tarragon, like all kinds of different things go in there.

Ryn (42:13):
Yeah. Tarragon, that’s a good one. And that’s sort of like what you were saying earlier about putting mugwort together with sage and pennyroyal and friends. But tarragon is sort of related to mugwort. It’s another Artemisia variety, but a very different flavor. And I feel like that might be even… That’s another good one to try together with Sage and Rosemary. Yeah. They fit together really nicely.

Katja (42:40):
Yeah. I’m actually thinking about tea. Thinking about making tea after this. And I’m like oh, rosemary, sage, anise hyssop, and tarragon. That could be quite tasty.

Ryn (42:53):
That could be good.

Katja (42:55):
It might need some linden with it.

Ryn (42:58):
Yeah. It’s warming up for us, you know. It’s definitely springtime. It’s not super hot yet though. I feel like on a hotter summer day you can still have sage and rosemary tea. But like maybe a sun tea and maybe with lemon balm.

Katja (43:10):
I was going to say that too.

Ryn (43:11):
Or lemon grass. Like something citrusy in there. That’s going to be more pleasant on a hot day.

Katja (43:18):
It’s not too hot today.

Salvia Saviors

Ryn (43:20):
Yeah. This should be good. One thing I sort of hinted at earlier, but didn’t really circle back to, was something about a savior or saviors here. And the word salvia in the Latin it can mean to save, to keep healthy, to keep happy, things like that. Secure, that kind of thing. And I like to think about that for these plants. There’s a lot of mythology about both of these, about like literally being connected. With rosemary, being connected to Mary. She’s like a figure. And with sage as well. Like Salvia salvatrix. Sage, the savior, you know, is one of the older names for it. But there’s a lot of power in these names. And with rosemary, Rosmarinus there, there’s this longstanding debate about is it because it’s the dew of the sea? Is it because it grows by the sea? Is it because it captures some dew in the morning, and it tastes salty, and it reminds people of the sea? And there’s all of this back and forth about that when you talk to the historians of herbalism.

Katja (44:35):
You know though, I’m always just so fascinated by herbalism in the United States specifically. Because back in the thirties it was pushed out as a legitimate medicinal discipline and not in every place. There were some places that held onto it. But for the most part, it was pushed out.

Ryn (45:07):
As a prestige practice, as a mainstream practice.

Katja (45:10):
Yeah. And it just amazes me how many herbs stuck, but we just moved them into the culinary sphere. And then when you look at them historically, you’re like they thought sage was so important, they called it the savior. They thought Rosemary was so important that they named it after Mary. In Europe they liked her.

Ryn (45:41):
I mean, you know, St. John’s wort. Okay, that’s John. He’s pretty up there in the whole pantheon. But Mary, that’s like…

Katja (45:48):
It’s right up there. And that these are plants that stuck with us. And now we don’t even associate them with any kind of medicinal action in terms of mainstream knowledge. And yet here they are. Even when they outlawed herbalism, they couldn’t remove these plants from people’s lives.

Ryn (46:12):
And a good thing, too.

Katja (46:13):
Uh, yes.

Ryn (46:15):
All right. We’re going to wrap up. But before we do, I just wanted to comment a little bit about one of our courses, the Neurological and Emotional Health course. And it’s connected to today’s topic because sage and rosemary are really two of our favorite nervine herbs. It’s just that they’re nervine stimulants, you know? Not every nervine is a relaxant or a sedative. Even though most of the time if an herbalist says let’s have a class about nervines, they usually mean the calming ones to help you rest and relax: betony and chamomile and that. But nervine stimulants are important. And it doesn’t mean that they’re going to make you jittery like coffee does.

Katja (46:53):
Right. And even sometimes a nervine stimulant still helps you relax, right? Because if we’re thinking about sage – well, rosemary will do this too – and we’re thinking about heavy, dark, stuck emotional patterns. Those create anxiety all on their own. Like even if those patterns didn’t come from a place of anxiousness, they’ll create the anxiousness, because everything feels dark and stuck and heavy. And so that nervine stimulant action is what’s required to clear out, break up the heaviness. Break up the stagnation. Break up the darkness. Get it all out. And ultimately that does lead to relaxation, even though we did it through stimulation.

Ryn (47:41):
It feels very much like, you know, with muscles people easily understand. Well, if they’re tense and tight, if you can warm them, then they’ll relax. But your nerves are kind of similar. If they’re also cold and tight, and we warm them up with herbs like this, then they can get some relaxation too. So yeah. And sage and rosemary, they can enliven. They can like awaken nerve activity. You can feel that in your brain, in your mental state. And our kind of takeaway so often is that your neurological system and the emotional patterns in your mind and your body, they’re connected. And herbs are always acting on both of them at the same time. The herbs are not interested in Cartesian dualism. The herbs do not care about the body-mind divide. They find it easy to cross back and forth, even if we struggle with it.

Katja (48:34):
They don’t realize there’s anything to cross over. That’s just a human construct.

Ryn (48:40):
So, you should check this out, right? It’s our neurological and emotional health course. You’re sure to meet some herbs who can help you to feel calmer and gentler and more relaxed, but also present and sharp and more focused as well.

Katja (48:54):
Like all of our courses, the Neurological and Emotional Health course, which I do have to say is my favorite of all of our courses.

Ryn (49:01):
It’s a good one.

Katja (49:02):
It’s a good one. It includes nearly 45 hours of video lessons and MP3 versions of all that. So, you can review on the go. There’s downloadable PDFs, activities, study guides, all that stuff. You can ask your questions in the discussion threads. We answer them within a day. There’s the student community. There’s the twice a week live Q&A sessions. There’s lifetime access. There are all the things.

Ryn (49:28):
Yeah. You don’t have to rush to get through the 45 hours of video. You can take your time.

Katja (49:32):
You can take your time. You can watch it a million times. When we update it, the updates show up in your account for free. Listen, you can’t learn herbalism in a year. You can’t. You need time. You need time to think things through and then review old material. And then realize that there’s stuff that you didn’t catch the first time around. And even several years later, time to do that again. Like, you just need time for things to sink in and settle in. And so we don’t think that people should lose access to their herbal learning. We think you should have access to it for your whole life. So, that’s what we do.

Ryn (50:16):
So, we’ll put a link in the show notes. But you can also find that and all of our courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com. Okay. Well, that’s going to be it for this episode. We’ll be back soon with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some tea.

Katja (50:37):
Drink some tea.

Ryn (50:38):
And save yourselves.

Katja (50:41):
With Salvias.

Ryn (50:42):
Yeah. Bye.

Katja (50:46):
Bye bye.


Join our newsletter for more herby goodness!

Get our newsletter delivered right to your inbox. You'll be first to hear about free mini-courses, podcast episodes, and other goodies about holistic herbalism.