Sage: a Favorite Nervine

You’ve heard of Sage (Salvia off.) used as a throat gargle, an antiseptic mouthwash, you know it’s good for headaches. You’ve used it to help weaning mothers dry off their milk supply, and women in menopause ease the transition. An aid to digestion before, during, or after a meal, not to mention a tasty addition to chicken and sausage! Sage is a favorite menstrual remedy for cramps, heavy bleeding, is useful against diarrhea, and has even shown to be particularly effective against staph, E. coli, salmonella, candida, and more.

But over time, my strongest and most important relationship with Sage has been as a nervine, and a very powerful one, at that.

Sage is the perfect nervine for over-loaded, overwhelmed Type-A personalities. You can’t just tell this person to relax – they have too much to do and it must all be done now! And not only that, but they’re often convinced there’s no one who could possibly help. Many nervines seem to bounce right off this personality – they don’t want to feel calm, they want to get all this stuff done! (take it from me, I ought to know!)
But Sage doesn’t just make you feel calmer. Sage feels like having a partner – the dependable, high-stakes kind of partner Navy Seals or professional spies have in movies. A particularly strong, competent partner with very good judgement. My dad happens to be this kind of person: when you ask my dad to help with something, or to fix something, it gets *done*. You don’t have to worry about it anymore. Even at 60-something, my dad is still the strongest guy I know. Sage feels like that: handing all the things you’re trying to over-manage and hold on to and that have been weighing on you for the last seventeen months off to someone who is strong enough to pry your controlling fingers away from them and competent enough to truly do something about them.

Dad: protector, lifter of heavy objects, fixer of all things broken, carrier when you are tired, slayer of monsters under the bed, co-conspirator who covers your back when you did something mom will be mad about, and graceful provider when you need an extra twenty bucks but are too proud to ask. Sage is that, for your nervous system.

I’ve been so enchanted by Sage as a nervine, I’m always looking for others who work with Sage in this way. One mention in particular comes from Kiva Rose, back in 2007:

“Sage – More than a nervine, this is a tonic for rebuilding the nervous system where there has been deep and longlasting trauma. It helps to restore the integrity of the feeling senses. Specifically useful where there’s shaking and tremors, anxiety with overwhelming fear, and profound burnout.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!


  1. elisa on 3 August, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Which type of sage please and how? The type on food? The type in the tea? White sage(which ‘shouldn’t’ be ingested or the food source? I hear so many conflicting ideas about which sage is ok for what thing and how. I use sage tea (Calvita brand organic tea) for cold and flu type illness, smells like turpentine to me, but my kiddos like it hehe.

  2. katja on 3 August, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Oh, Elisa! How did I leave out the latin name? I’ll go fix that right away.

    But, it’s Salvia off., just your common garden Sage! White Sage I use as an incense.
    Cavita is good, or you can buy it in bulk at, or you can grow some! I was shocked to see that ours overwintered this year, here in Boston!


  3. Elisa on 3 August, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Oh dear 🙁
    I’m sorry I commented BEFORE I had the required three cups of black tea. Of course I ought not to have provided the name of product and I was so excited that I didn’t attend that you have your own business. Apologies. And thanks for clarification, I’ve heard several Native women say that one can use the white in the bag but not safe to eat it. uhmm to me that would seem the steeped variety too. I’ll just use the common variety. Knowing that you are not a medical doctor, how much in your own experience, is required for ‘effect’?

  4. katja on 3 August, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Oh – don’t even worry! I don’t sell herbs as products, I’m a clinical herbalist. I’ll make things up for my clients, but that’s all – I’d rather spend my time in clinic or teaching. Not that I don’t make medicine, just not for sale as products. Besides, there’s enough to go around 🙂

    For me personally, the first time I noticed this effect was on myself – I’d never seen it anywhere written, and I was getting it off just one or two cups of (strong) tea made from dry herb daily, or nearly daily. At the time, it even took me a while to put it together – I was just following the craving! After a while I started putting it all together, and looking for other people with these experiences as well, and recommending it to clients. Now it’s seriously my primary use of the plant! 🙂

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