We use herbs all the time for cooking and don’t think much of it. Take sage. Most people are familiar with sage from using it maybe a couple times a year in stuffing. But herbalists make frequent use of sage.
Sage is Mediterranean in origin. There are different varieties, and one comes from Central America. The Central American kind is unusual to say the least, as it can cause someone to hallucinate. The native people of the region of Central America where that kind of sage grows use it for religious purposes.
Sage was a sacred herb to the ancient Romans. So sacred, in fact, that there was a ritual that had to be performed before someone could harvest sage. He also had to be wearing clean clothes, and offer a food sacrifice before starting.
Further, the person’s feet had to be clean. The harvesting itself required that the person use a special non-iron knife. Iron reacts with sage, which explains the choice of different materials.
Sage has a history in China as well. The Chinese discovered sage tea, right around when the Dutch discovered Chinese tea. This resulted in a lucrative trade system being set up. The Dutch would trade one part of sage for four parts Chinese tea. Clearly, the trade was in the Dutch traders’ favor. They could then sell the tea for a huge profit.
We herbalists are also big fans of sage. For instance, I’ll use sage to help someone who is having a flare up of irritable bowel syndrome. To serve up the sage, I’ll simmer the leaves in beef broth for maybe twenty minutes. Chicken broth works just as well, the broth isn’t therapeutic but is used for flavor because many people don’t enjoy sage tea straight.
Sage has a drying aspect. This is very handy. Herbalists use sage to help women who are weaning children. Sage will help dry up milk flow, but is safe to give to a still-nursing mother because it won’t hurt the child. It is also useful in cases where someone sweats too much, or for women having night sweats from menopause.
You want to talk to your doctor, though, before starting with any herbal remedy including sage. Food amounts of herbs are one thing but treatment amounts are another! Your doctor knows your history and medications and can advise you regarding whether or not a certain supplement is a good idea.