Monday, March 5, 2012

Sage....Salvia officinales...

Any plant that has officinales in its botanical name means that it has a history of being used medicinally and many eventually were included in the 'materia medica' or 'pharmacopeias' used up until the 1930's by, yes doctors and pharmacists. Although the later editions contain less and less 'common' plants and more exotic or potentially poisonous ones. Freaky eh? Pharmaceutical drugs are that young. Apparently the latin derivative word 'officina' originally referred to a workshop, later a monastic storeroom, then a herb store and finally to a pharmacy. 

Which brings us to Salvia officinales, common garden sage. Which comes in several models including red, grey and variegated.

I mostly use this plant, like its cousin 'white sage', Salvia apiana, for smudging (sagebrush or desert sage is a whole nother plant, being Artemisia tridentata). Burning to clear space, people, animals and objects. It can be wrapped tightly with cotton thread when green and dried into 'smudge sticks' or I simply dry and then grind it in a mortar and pestle, or simply between hands, to burn on charcoal blocks. Either way works and its earthy sweet smell as smoke, whisps its way into nooks and crannys, removing stagnant energy as it goes and shifting awareness into the sacred and liminal.
Ive also cooked with her in stews and soups, to make stuffings, added her to patties, sprinkled her on potatoes, made sage butter to spread on toast, used sage vinegar in salad dressings. She's a potent medicine, with essential oils that stimulate digestive enzymes and stomach acids making her an excellent food companion, but that can also accumulate, with daily use, in the liver and kidneys. So treat her temptingly assimilable, calcium rich self, with respect as a tea, vinegar or a small dose of infusion. Even a few crushed leaves set in water in the sunshine can make a mild tonic water.

As a toothbrush her leaves are antibacterial and can be rubbed onto infected or bleeding gums directly or made into a mouthwash tea by adding a few leaves crushed into a cup of boiling water and allowing it to steep for ten minutes.

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