Sage (Salvia)

The following information is directly pulled from the National Institutes of Health database. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a biomedical research facility primarily located in Bethesda, Maryland. An agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, it is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research.

Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer


For a long time, sage (Salvia) species have been used in traditional medicine for the relief of pain, protecting the body against oxidative stress, free radical damages, angiogenesis, inflammation, bacterial and virus infection, etc., Several studies suggest that sage species can be considered for drug development because of their reported pharmacology and therapeutic activities in many countries of Asia and Middle East, especially China and India. These studies suggest that Salvia species, in addition to treating minor common illnesses, might potentially provide novel natural treatments for the relief or cure of many serious and life-threatening diseases such as depression, dementia, obesity, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, and cancer. This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the botanical, chemical, and pharmacological aspects of sage (Saliva).

Keywords: Pharmacological property, Sage (Salvia species), Traditional remedies


The genus Salvia, commonly known as sage, is the largest member of Lamiacea or mint family containing over 900 species throughout the world.[1,2] The plants are mostly aromatic and perennial [Figures [Figures11 and and3],3], with flowers in different colors [Figure 2].[3] Many species of Salvia, including Salvia officinalis (common sage), are native to the Mediterranean region and some of the Salvia species have been used worldwide as flavoring spices as well as traditional herbal medicine.[3,4]

Figure 1

Salvia officinalis

Figure 2

Salvia officinalis “sage flowers”

Figure 3

Salvia officinalis “sage leaves”

Sage tea has been traditionally used for the treatment of digestive and circulation disturbances, bronchitis, cough, asthma, angina, mouth and throat inflammations, depression, excessive sweating, skin diseases, and many other diseases.[5,6,7] Salvia essential oils have been used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases like those of the nervous system, heart and blood circulation, respiratory system, digestive system, and metabolic and endocrine diseases. In addition, sage essential oil has been shown to have carminative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and astringent properties.[8,9]

The essential oil of Salvia species has various compositions depending on the genetic, climatic, seasonal, and environmental factors.[10] Some chemical compounds like flavonoids, terpenoids, and essential oils are present in different species of Salvia [Figure 4].[3] Essential oils are very important sources for the screening of anticancer, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and free radical scavenging agents.[11] S. officinalis(common sage) is considered to have the highest amount of essential oil compared to the other species of Salvia.[5,12]

Figure 4

Sage leaf – trichomes are visible

In all analyzed samples of S. officinalis, the major components, although present in different concentrations, are: 1,8-cineole, camphor, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphene, α- and β-thujone, linalool, α- and β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, α- and β-pinene, viridiflorol, pimaradiene, salvianolic acid, rosmarinic acid, carnosolic acid, ursolic acid, etc.[7,12] Studies have shown that some biological properties of the essential oil of Salvia depend on camphor, 1,8-cineole, α-thujone, and β-thujone.[9] The essential oil of sage contains about 20% camphor, and as the leaves expand, the camphor content also increases.[13] In a study, the most powerful scavenging compounds were reported to be α-thujone and β-thujone, bornyl acetate, camphor, menthone, and 1,8-cineol in the essential oil.[11] In the same study, the essential oil of Melissa officinalisand S. officinalis showed better antioxidant activities than some other Lamiaceae plants.[11]

Sage is also a natural source of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds [Figure 5] (e.g., carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid) possessing strong antioxidant, radical-scavenging, and antibacterial activities.[14] The majority of the phenolic acids in Salvia species are derivatives of caffeic acid which is the building block of a variety of plant metabolites.[15] Caffeic acid plays a central role in the biochemistry of the Lamiaceae plants, and occurs mainly in a dimer form as rosmarinic acid.[15] Carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are present at high concentrations in the extract of sage plants, have shown strong antioxidant properties.[16] Ursolic acid, also a component of sage, has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and in sage preparations, it is considered as a quality control measurement for the anti-inflammatory effects of different solutions.[17]

Figure 5

Danshensu and monoterpenoids from Salvia miltiorrhiza. All these compounds contain catechol functionalities

Key benefits of Sage Salvia:

  • anti-oxidant
  • treatment of Alzheimers Disease
  • remedy against diabetes
  • inhibits angiogenesis to prevent tumor growth
  • prevents LDL-cholesterol oxidation
  • regulates fat absorption to reduce weight and obesity
  • treatment for hot flashes associated with menopause
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-diarrheal


The objective of this paper is to review the recent advancements in the exploration of sage (Salvia species) as phytotherapy and to illustrate its potential as a therapeutic agent. Salvia species may represent a natural, safe, and effective treatment for many diseases and their symptoms. In recent decades, with the increase in pharmacological knowledge about the beneficial effects of sage, especially S. officinalis, these herbal medicines with antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging, and antitumor activities have been found to be very effective in the development of novel natural drugs to prevent, control, and treat many minor health problems as well as more serious and complicated diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. It must be kept in mind that clinicians should remain cautious until more definite studies demonstrate the safety, quality, and efficacy of S. officinalis. For these reasons, extensive pharmacological and chemical experiments, together with human metabolic studies should be the focus of our future studies, and further potential of S. officinalis has to be employed in new therapeutic drugs and provide a basis for future research on the application of medicinal plants.

Supporting Data

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