You can find this strong-tasting herb in gardens around the world. It’s also a “must have” in the kitchen whether you’re cooking chicken, pasta dishes or holiday stuffing.
In addition to its delicious flavor, the latest medical research reveals that this herb can help your brain work better and your memory grow sharper.
No wonder the herb sage is a favorite among chefs and natural medical doctors alike.
Researchers in England at Northumbria University have been studying sage for several years. They’ve demonstrated that sage contains a “host” of natural chemicals that “interact with mechanisms pertinent to brain function and improve aspects of cognitive performance.” Their results were exciting to say the least, so they decided to put sage to the test in a clinical study.
Benefits Short-Term Memory Recall
The Northumbria researchers gave people between the ages of 30 and 60 sage extract supplements for a month. Another group did not take sage. The study revealed that the sage group experienced “clear, additive benefits” on brain function from the herb.1
These benefits included improvements in working memory (the kind of short term recall necessary for day-to-day tasks) and even improved mathematical skills.
Plus, the scientists pointed out, compared to the people in the study who were not taking sage, the sage-takers experienced slower erosion of their cognitive abilities as related to aging.
The Northumbria University research is only the beginning.
Protects the Brain Against Diabetes Damage
In Iran, sage is a traditional medicine for diabetes. So it’s no surprise that they’ve thoroughly studied sage’s effects on the brain.
Laboratory tests in the country demonstrate that the natural chemicals in sage may also help prevent cognitive issues linked to high blood sugar as well as prevent the oxidative damage to cell membranes in the brain that occur with diabetes.2
But perhaps sage’s most promising memory benefits are for people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
May Prevent Alzheimer’s
Researchers in Cyprus have been examining how the antioxidant powers of the substances in sage, as well as their anti-inflammatory effects, could be helpful in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.
In their analyses, the Cyprian scientists note that sage’s phytochemicals “exhibit important neuroprotectivity.”
That means these compounds can defend the brain’s neurons against significant damage from oxidative stress that accumulates in the brain and damages brain tissue. And these compounds may also offset the toxicity caused by clumps of misfolded proteins in the brain, such as tau and beta-amyloid.3
The Cyprian scientists further point out that sage can work against the memory-dimming effects of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase.
Acetylcholinesterase is a cellular catylyst that helps break down and eliminate acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is used by neurons to send signals to each other. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter your memory can’t live without. However, if your brain is functioning correctly, acetylcholinesterase plays a useful function in turning used acetylcholine into acetic acid and choline, which can be recycled.
But as you get older, the brain may retain too much of this enzyme for its own good. And when that happens, the breakdown of acetylcholine can go into overdrive and start causing memory problems as your levels of acetylcholine drop.
Now, several drugs intended to treat Alzheimer’s have been designed to stop this breakdown process. Unfortunately, they have not been very successful at helping restore memory in folks with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
But the Cyprian researchers (and others) think that more studies of sage and herbs like it may reveal natural chemicals that can stop the elimination of acetylcholine and simultaneously provide other benefits to the brain that, together, do a better job of supporting brain health.4
Already a study in the Middle East shows that by simply inhaling a mixture of sage oil combined with lavender and rosemary, you can help your brain fight off oxidative stress and improve the retention of acetylcholine.5
Ancient Healers Used Sage
Traditional doctors aren’t surprised by the medical discoveries concerning sage’s benefits on memory. The use of sage as a medicinal remedy dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, as well as to Chinese medicine and Native American folk medicine.
After all, Salvia, the name of sage’s genus, is derived from the Latin word salvere, which means “to heal” or “to save”.
These healers relied on sage to fight illness, treat wounds and skin infections, as well as to relieve digestive complaints, help women with the symptoms of menopause and improve memory and focus.
As John Gerard, an English herbalist, pointed out more than 400 years ago, sage “is singularly good for the head and brain and quickeneth the nerves and memory.”6
That’s why our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions, has formulated a leading memory health supplement with a superior standardized extract of sage (Salvia officinalis). It’s called Advanced Brain Power. Best of all, sage is only the beginning. Every ingredient in Advanced Brain Power has been formulated on the basis of published scientific studies that suggest it may support mental recall, focus and overall brain health.
As you’ve probably learned to expect when it comes to food supplements, the studies referenced in this article are not sufficient to win FDA approval, and Green Valley does not claim Advanced Brain Power can cure, treat or prevent any disease. The evidence presented here suggests that it may, but pending further study you have to make your own decision on whether the evidence is good enough for you.