Sage for perimenopause and beyond
Updated: Jan 14
I try not to play favourites among my herbal medicines but I do have to admit that sage always comes to mind if anyone asks me to name the herb I love the most.
Sage is a herb that everyone should get to know during midlife and beyond. There is an ancient saying, roughly translated as: "Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?" This saying illustrates the wide range of medicinal benefits from eating sage and drinking sage tea.
Sage is most certainly top of mind herb for women 40+. In this blog I want to share with you how to grow and use sage in cooking and herbal teas as an everyday way to support your health.
Sage for perimenopause symptoms
Sage contains nutrients called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are found in plants such as herbs, seeds, grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They are called phytoestrogens because they contain a weak form of estrogen that interacts with the estrogen receptors in our body. A well known example of a phytoestrogen food is soy. Other phytoestrogen foods are sage, fennel and red clover.
Perimenopause typically occurs from a woman's early to late 40s and can be a rollercoaster ride. During the early stages of perimenopause many women experience the symptoms associated with high levels of estrogen such as migraines, heavy bleeding, clotting, fibroids, histamine intolerance and endometriosis.
Phytoestrogens foods such as sage, consumed regularly each day, can have an anti-estrogen effect and result in an improvement of perimenopause symptoms.
Sage for hot flushes during menopause
I regularly prescribe sage for relieving the sweating associated with hot flushes and night sweats during menopause. I often recommend that sage be consumed in the form of a herbal infusion. Here is a recipe for sage tea:
Recipe for sage tea
2 tablespoons of fresh sage leaves, crushed or chopped finely 2 cups of boiling water juice of 1 lemon Method: Combine the above ingredients in a jar or pan with a lid and leave overnight. In the morning, strain the sage leaves out. Dilute and sip throughout the day to assist with hot flushes. Sage tea may also assist with night sweats if consumed before bed.
I very often prescribe a therapeutic dose of sage in the form of a herbal tincture to help women through menopause. Sage is combined with other herbs such as black cohosh to reduce hot flushes and night sweats. Finding the right combination of medicinal herbs for each of my menopause clients is one of the joys of my job.
Sage is beneficial for brian fog, poor cognition, low mood and dementia:
Sage is one of my go-to herbs for women who are experiencing brain fog or cognitive difficulty during menopause or post menopause. I have also found that sage provides a mood lifting affect in some women, however I tend to recommend saffron rather than sage for women who are experiencing mild depression with menopause.
Clinical trials are proceeding for using sage to treat Alzheimer's Disease. These trials look very promising and I already recommend a sage tincture to people with dementia or cognitive decline.
Regularly consuming sage is a good way to increase the antioxidants in your diet. New research into the chemical compounds in sage has shown that even quite small amounts can be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol, lupus, heart disease and cancer.
Sage is also great herb for fighting colds and flu. It will help to soothe inflammation in the mouth or throat and is anti-bacterial. Take sage as a tea or a gargle to help with a sore throat. Sage has been traditionally used to reduce a fever and to ease a tension headache.
Medicinal cooking with sage:
If you nibble on a fresh sage leaf you will discover that it has a very strong, pungent and bitter flavour, which should be used sparingly in cooking as it can easily be overpowering in a simple meal such as a salad.
The bitter pungent flavour of sage is what gives us a clue that it is a useful herb for calming the digestive system. It is especially useful for those people who have trouble digesting meals that contain fat and sage is often paired with butter in cooking for this reason.
Fresh sage compliments dense, fatty, sweet-savoury foods which benefit from it's strong flavour and bitter finish. Sage is delicious with pork, chicken, prosciutto, bacon, egg, onion, butter, tomato, apple, white beans, potato, pumpkin and squash. I like to add a small amount of chopped, fresh sage to beef burgers.
Why not try this sage pesto with gnocchi, pumpkin pasta, potato salad, roast pork or chicken risotto:
Sage Pesto Recipe
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves 2 cloves garlic 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (omit for dairy free version) salt and pepper to taste Method: Combine herbs, garlic and oil in a food processor and blend until creamy. Mix in nuts and parmesan and then add salt and pepper to taste.
How to Grow Sage (Salvia officinalis):
Sage is a mediterranean herb and you can't go wrong if your garden or balcony enjoys warm and dry conditions. I have always gardened in Sydney Australia, so this advice is applicable for gardeners in Sydney and other warm temperate climates, but not frosty or tropical climates.
Soil: Well drained, light soil. No fertilising required. Water only in dry weather once established. Sage won't do well in overwatered soil. Position: Sunny and not crowded by other plants. Height: 0.3 - 0.5 metres. Plant: From Spring to Autumn.
Pests and Disease: nil
Pick: New growth all year round for use in cooking.
Care: cut back old growth in early spring, this will encourage fresh growth and prevent the plant from becoming woody. Plants are best replaced every 4 or 5 years. Companion Planting: Sage likes the company of other Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme.
Safety and recommended amounts:
Sage is a safe herb and can be enjoyed freely in culinary amounts to improve digestive complaints, soothe a sore throat and reduce sweating.
Sage is very drying, so it shouldn't be taken as a tea during breast feeding because it can dry up the milk supply (this might be useful if you are trying to wean your baby). Sage hasn't been studied for medicinal use in pregnancy, so stick to small amounts in food.
Pregnant women should always seek advice before taking herbs or herbal medicines as many are not recommended.
I hope this blog has encouraged you to eat more sage, to dig out the dried sage from the back of your spice rack, and to love it as much as I do! Please contact me to find out more about how herbs and herbal medicine can benefit your health.
Hi! I'm Simone Jeffries. I am a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and certified wellness coach. I'm also a foodie and a whole food advocate.
The information in this blog is from my Bachelor of Health Science degree, experience from working with women in my clinic, and continuing research.
This blog is for information only and not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek assistance for any medical concerns.