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Clary Sage – Soothing and Euphoric

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea, Lamiaceae), a stout biennial or perennial herb with small blue to pale lavender flowers, is native to southern Europe, but grows worldwide, including the US, Russia, Great Britain, and Morocco. Highly regarded in the Middle Ages, it was used for digestive disorders, kidney disease, uterine and menstrual complaints, and as a general nerve tonic. The herb can relieve inflammation and is, therefore, useful for throat and respiratory infections. Clary sage was often referred to as "clear eye" and was employed for "dimness of sight." It should be noted that this refers to the herb being steeped in water and used as an eye wash and not the use of the essential oil. Cultivated extensively in England, by the 16th century it was primarily used in the brewing of ale as it was considered to cause the imbiber to become "either dead drunk, or foolish drunk, or mad drunk." The essential oil is primarily produced by steam distillation from the flowering tops and leaves. The resulting oil is a colorless liquid with a sweet, nutty, herbaceous aroma. Clary sage essential oil can be used for skin care (acne, hair loss, oily skin and hair, and wrinkles), circulation and muscles and joints (high blood pressure and aches and pains), the respiratory system (asthma, throat infections, and whooping cough), the digestive system (colic, cramp, dyspepsia, and gas), the genitourinary system (amenorrhea, labor pain, and dysmenorrhea), and the nervous system (depression, frigidity, impotence, migraine, nervous tension, and stress-related conditions [See HC 031361-470]). It is thought to restore nervous equilibrium, so may help with emotional or hormonal imbalance in the endocrine system, and is regarded as very useful for both PMS and menopause. It can also aid nervous debility and states of exhaustion. It has been used in baths (diluted in a carrier oil) to calm overexcited, fretful children. Using clary sage has been known to cause vivid dreams and enhance creative work. It aids in generating energy and can induce feelings of elation, but it can also aid one in relaxation. The oil has also been used as an aphrodisiac, both to soothe apprehension and aid in euphoria. While sharing many qualities with common sage (Salvia officinalis), clary sage is considered much safer since it contains much less thujone than common sage. However, it should not be used during pregnancy or in combination with alcohol.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor