Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Sage Bad For You?

Also Known As: garden sage, common sage



Short answer

Sage has a reputation as a panacea – and for good reason. Just be sure not to consume excessive amounts.



Long answer

Known since the time of the ancient Romans for its medicinal properties, sage – related to but not identical with the salvia used as a recreational drug – is a must-have herb for anyone looking to have better health.  Sage is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals and in particular, essential oils.  Sage is a great source of antioxidant vitamins A and C, which are also essential in maintaining good eye health and boosting the immune system, respectively.  Sage is especially rich in vitamin K, which is essential in transporting calcium to the bones and plays an important role in treating patients who have Alzheimer’s disease by halting neuronal damage in the brain.  Also contributing to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers are compounds which have been found to inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE), a chemical found in tandem with the amyloid plaques that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. 

While sage does contain volatile oils that inhibit tumor formation, its primary active ingredients are its essential oils, which mostly contain ketones such as thujone.  These, along with chemicals such as cineol, borneol, and flavones, give sage anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-irritant, anti-allergenic, and anti-septic properties.  The anti-inflammatory property of sage is especially important in regulating blood pressure, which it does in conjunction with potassium.  Preventing high blood pressure is vital to reducing the risk of heart attack.  Studies have also shown sage as being beneficial for women in relieving symptoms associated with menopause and in vitro studies point to sage’s ability to kill bacteria such as E. coli and prevent fungal infections.

Sage is, however, not without any risks.  Commonly taken as a tea to treat the common cold and other respiratory illnesses, drinking too much sage tea could result in dry mouth.  Furthermore, sage has a significant amount of thujone, which is poisonous in high amounts, potentially leading to seizure and damage to the liver and/or kidneys.  Like cumin, sage may also lower blood sugar, and so may not be safe for people who are also taking medication for diabetes.  For most people, sage is an excellent herb for improving health, but for people with diabetes, epilepsy, liver, and/or kidney problems, consult a doctor to decide on how much sage – if any – would be safe.

Possible short-term side effects

  • decreased blood sugar levels
  • dry mouth

Possible long-term side effects

  • with very large amounts:
  • liver damage
  • kidney damage
  • seizures

Ingredients to be aware of

  • thujone

Big is sage bad for you.


  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-irritant
  • anti-allergenic
  • anti-septic
  • helps to treat alzheimer’s disease

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Written by Jeff Volling | 05-19-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
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