Sage EO Profile

Sage Essential Oil and/or Hydrosol Profile
By Jeanne Rose ~ 7-30-16

Sage Oil Synopsis: Including the organoleptic and physiochemical properties, history, naming, properties and uses and background, and Jeanne Rose personal recipes and formulas.

Sage EO-plantphoto by Jeanne Rose ~ essential oil courtesy Eden Botanicals

Common Name/Latin Binomial: Sage is the general name for the herbs of the Salvia species, all of which are native of southern Europe and the Western Mediterranean. Common sage also called Dalmatian Sage, Salvia officinalis L., is a perennial herb of the Labiatae/Lamiaceae family and is now produced worldwide.

Other Common Name/Naming Information: Sage was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name salvus means safe and refers to the medicinal properties while officinalis means it was sold or used as a medicinal herb.

Family: Labiatae now called Lamiaceae are a family of flowering plants. The plants are frequently aromatic in all parts and include many widely used culinary herbs, such as Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Savory and Thyme.

Countries of Origins: Sage is the general name for the herbs of the Salvia species, all of which are native of
southern Europe and the Western Mediterranean. Originally, harvested in the Dalmatian Islands and nearby coast (now part of Croatia), Sage is grown easily in many areas.

Harvest Location: Bulgaria for Eden Botanicals and grown and distilled by many other countries in Europe.

Endangered or Not: The population is stable and is of least concern.

General description of Plant habitat and growth: Perennial evergreen herb (shrub), with woody stems and grayish leaves and blue to purple flowers. It is a Mediterranean native plant but has been naturalized throughout the world. This herb has a long historical medicinal and culinary usage. Cultivars vary in size and leaf type with various colors of leaf and flower and also variegated leaves. The original Sage grows to about 2 feet, flowers in late spring or summer. The leaves can range in size from 2.5 inches and up to 1 inch wide.

Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods and yields: The leaves of the young plants picked before flowering are either steam-distilled or CO2 extracted.  Yield 1.4%±. This oil is often adulterated with naturally occurring thujone and the adulteration may be hard to detect.

The leaves are used fresh or dried, whole or chopped, for foods and culinary teas and flavorings.

Sage CO2Sage CO2 courtesy Prima Fleur

Historical Uses: The herb has been in use for thousands of years, specifically in baths to ease muscle aches and pains and to cleanse smelly feet; in food to camouflage slightly putrefying meat; as a tea to drink for headache; as an infusion to use on the hair to keep it black or gargle for sore throat or mouthwash. In 1873, Sage was used with the toxic/poisonous compounds of lead and cantharides (from Lytta vesicatoria or Spanish fly as a rubefacient) with glycerin as a hair restorer. During WWI Sage oil was mostly used in field hospitals.

Interesting Information: Extracts of the herb Sage with Rosemary herb (as tea) can enhance memory and cognitive performance comparable to the effect of the caffeine found in tea and coffee.

Organoleptic Characteristic:

Sage Organoleptic x







Odor Description/Aroma Assessment: Sage oil has a camphoraceous, thujone-like aroma and is used in the fragrance industry. The oil is very aromatic with a distinct herbaceous, camphoraceous, and spicy scent.

General Properties: Leaves are used, usually dried, in cooking although often adulterated with Salvia fructicosa called Greek Sage or Greek Oregano. It is an antioxidant, folk remedy, and medicine for heart disease (in Crete), included in cheese (such as Derby cheese in the UK), formerly used as a medicine and cleaning teeth, in local drinks (in Cyprus), with the flavor having to due with terpineol and often thujone. —Mabberley’s Plant-Book.

Properties and Uses: The herb Sage tea was drunk as a bactericide, tonic, nervine, calmative, antiseptic, emmenagogue, and antisudorific. Due to the presence of thujone, it is not recommended that the essential oil and large quantities of the herb tea be taken.
Sage oil has been used by ingestion, inhalation and application.

The essential oil is used by Inhalation as an antidepressant, nervine, and  some say an adrenal cortex stimulant.
By application the EO is astringent, antiseptic, lipolytic, antifungal, and used in anti-cellulite and antifungal creams, and antibacterial for specific bacteria, such as staph’, strep’ and pseudomonas bacteria.

         Physical Uses: Ingestion:  “The herb tea is used internally as a tonic, as a general stimulant to the nervous system and adrenal cortex, as a calmative, it is antiseptic, stops sweating and lactation, encourages menses, has a restorative effect on the body, is used to reduce night sweats, can be taken during menopause and is indicated for all kinds of illness” 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 134.

Application: Sage oil in a dilution of  (99 parts carrier to 1 part oil) can be used in mouth rinse, vaginal rinse, and anal rinse and is applied to insect bites and stings, some say it is used for insufficient gall bladder and liver output. It is an emmenagogue, a powerful antifungal against Candida, is used on herpes, and in a massage oil for bad circulation, and in skin care products to reduce oily secretions.  It is a great, fragrant disinfectant.
Applied in a diluted rate of 75•25 (vinegar to oil)  blend with vinegar and rubbed on feet after sports exercises, it kills athlete’s foot fungus.
Both Sage tea as a tea and Sage oil inhaled alleviate the hot flashes of menopause and aids breathing for asthma as well.  However, too much inhalation can sometimes cause vertigo.

         Application/Skincare (formula at end) True Sage oil has dextrorotation while others have laevorotation.  “Many prominent aromatherapy authorities consider that Sage should never be used at all.  I believe it can be used in moderation especially in massage blends for aching muscles and muscular pain”, 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 137.

Do not use Sage oil in the underarm area or delicate areas of the body.

Diffuse/Diffusion: Sage oil can be used in blends in a diffuser. Allow it to be only 2% of the total of the EO blend.

Emotional/Energetic Use: The herb is used or the scent of the EO inhaled for wisdom, energy and for great esteem. “Inhaled the oil is antidepressant (although too strong for many), sometimes uplifting (depressing for some), and useful for mental strain, too much book-work and mental exhaustion.  When any oil is inhaled through the diffuser or via a pot of boiling water, it enters the mucous membrane of the nasal mucosa, is absorbed into the blood circulation and affects the entire body and mind” 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 134. Use this oil only in dilutions.

Blending and Perfumery: Dalmatian Sage oil is used for its powerful intense odor with good tenacity. In can be used as part of the top note or the heart note. The dry-down is herbaceous and pleasant.

Blends Best with: Citrus, Lavender particularly Lavandin, Rosemary, Rosewood and especially other Mediterranean scents. It produces sweet fresh qualities for Fern blends, Chypres types and colognes especially for men’s products.

SAGE EO-plant soft edge

Sage oil courtesy of Eden Botanicals

 Chemical Components: The essential oil (1 to 2.5%) is composed rather differently in different species and varieties of sage. “Dalmatian sage” (S. officinalis ssp. minor) contains mostly thujone (35 to 60%), 1,8-cineol (15%), camphor (18%), borneol (16%), bornyl esters, α-pinene and salvene.  “Spanish sage” (ssp. lavandulifolia) lacks thujone, but contains more cineol (29%) and camphor (34%); this subspecies is regarded as inferior. Its leaves lack the bitter diterpene carnosol (see hyssop).   And there is Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha and fructicosa, Salvia dorisiana as well as Greek sage (S. triloba) which is more strongly aromatic, but generally not accepted as a legitimate spice (at least, outside Greece). This species has an interesting, yet less subtle fragrance. The essential oil is dominated by cineol (64%) and contains small amounts of thujone (5%) and camphor (8%), but hardly any borneol. This species is furthermore characterized by a flavone called salvigenin, by which adulterations of S. officinalis with S. triloba can be detected. Carnosol is found in Sage. It is a phenolic diterpene found in the Mediterranean herbs Rosemary and Mountain desert sage. It has been studied in-vitro for anti-cancer effects in various cancer cell types.

Sage Physiochemical





Sage EO gland x4 copy

HYDROSOL: Salvia officinalis – Hydrosol • Historically, Sage water from Salvia officinalis was mentioned in 1874 as being used the same as Lavender water. (see Cooley, p. 651)   The hydrosol is very close in odor to the herb. This hydrosol is slightly astringent and good as a cleansing spray for oily or normal skin. It can be used as a facial spray for oily and acne-prone facial skin or on the body, particularly in dilution on the underarms and very personal areas to reduce odor. As a deodorant it works well with a preapplication of an Australian Sandalwood and alcohol mixture (10%•90%). The hydrosol I looked at and analyzed was from Provence, France ~ very nice and very fragrant of the herb.

As an insect spray add Eucalyptus citriodora and Peppermint essential oils to the Sage Hydrosol. In a massage and mist applications, it is considered a circulatory stimulant. It may help balance the hormones and autonomic nervous system and may be helpful in easing the symptoms of menopause, PMS and menstrual cramps. There is a suggestion that when Sage Hydrosol is applied at the onset of swollen lymph nodes, it can help reduce the swelling (but the person is not specific as to how this is applied).
Len and Shirley Price report that the Sage Hydrosol that they analyzed consists of 50-55% eucalyptol, 37-55% ketones and 5-6% alcohols and possesses the following properties: “analgesic, anticoagulant, antiinfectious, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bactericidal, calming, cicatrizing, decongestant, digestive, expectorant, lipolytic, mucolytic, sedative, stimulant”. A drink of the Sage hydrosol can help reduce excessive sweating. (1 t./8 oz. water).

Sage Hydrosol
Sage Hydrosol and Plant
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

Key Use: The Oil of Drying.

Contradictions: Know what you are using as some species of Sage contain thujone, which can affect the nervous system. Extended use or taking large amounts of Sage leaf or oil may result in restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures, and kidney damage. It also may lead to wheezing. Ingesting 12 drops or more of the essential oil is considered a toxic dose.

Do not Ingest essential oils: Although Sage oil is one of the most important flavoring oils in the flavor industry and thus ingested in very small amounts in many foods, especially meats and sausages, it is not a good idea to use it yourself either in capsules or honey to take internally.

Safety Precautions: Do not apply this essential oil neat, especially to the underarms or delicate parts of the body. Probably not to be used on babies, children or pregnant women. Many aromatherapist suggest that Sage not be used at all. However, as with many Mediterranean plants, its chemistry is subject to change depending on species and terroir.

Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64

 Sage References:
Askinson, George. Perfumes and Cosmetics. Hodder & Stoughton, London. 1915
Cooley, Arnold J. Complete Practical Treatise on Perfumery. Henry Carey Baird, Philadelphia. 1874.
Coombs, Allen J. Dictionary of Plant Names. Timber Press, Oregon. 1995
Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Krieger Publishing Company, Florida. 1949 reprint 1974.
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992


Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. Arctander. 1960
Coombs, Allen J. Dictionary of Plant Names. Timber Press. 1995
Deite, Dr. C. A Practical Treatise on the Manufacture of Perfumery. Henry Carey Baird & Co., Philadelphia, 1892.
Franchomme, P. l’aromatherapie exactement. R. Jollois: France, 1990
Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element: Massachusetts, 1992
Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, CA.,
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. Grosset & Dunlap: New York, 1992
Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. In spiral bound format from Jeanne Rose from a 1972 1st Editor
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Guide to Food. North Atlantic Books. 1979.
Rose, Jeanne. Natural Botanical Perfumery. San Francisco, Ca. 2014

Scientific Data: The oil of Salvia officinalis is also known for its medicinal-biological activities, such as antimicrobial and fungicidal effects (Carta et al., 1996; Edris et al., 2007; Barlcevic et al., 2000).

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©
Sage bunch
Sage plant from Eatwell Farm photo by Jeanne Rose


Experience with this EO and Herb: When I first started using herbs and essential oils about 50 years ago I mainly used herb Sage for tea, coughs and colds, or sore throat gargle and the essential oil mainly for sports injuries as a massage with other oils for aching muscles. Now I prefer the EO diluted and as an inhalant because it reminds me to think healthy thoughts ~ it is a visionary odor of the garden.

Foot Soak & Plaster

Soak: For a good hot soak, use ½-cup to 1-cup of Epsom salts in enough water to cover your feet plus 6 to 10 drops of essential oil to reduce pain and edema. I am particularly fond of antiperspirant analgesic oils such as Sage, Juniper Berry, Cypress and Lemon. Essential oils that reduce pain can also be used in this soaking water such as Frankincense and Rosemary.

Herbal Foot Soak: Make a strong infusion of herbs that you have including Rosemary, Sage, Comfrey and whatever else looks good in your garden. Strain out the herbs and use the herbs as a plaster to wrap around foot holding in place with a linen or cloth. Put feet into a hot infusion for 20 minutes. After squeeze the fluid out of the plaster, wrap feet in a dry towel to keep warm for another 20 minutes. Remove plaster, dry feet, and massage. — SPA Book by Jeanne Rose

Sage Aftershave Spray
Infuse ½ oz. of herb Sage and Rosemary combination into 1-cup of Apple cider vinegar for a week. Strain out the herbs. Add an equal quantity of Witch Hazel extract or hydrosol or Rose hydrosol. Add up to 5 drops of Sage essential oil. Put into a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before each usage.

Jeanne Rose uses this EO for Application with other oils for aching muscles and joints. A good combination is Sage oil mixed equally with Basil EO, Cypress oil and Juniper berry EO and then 75% Bruise Juice.

Aching Muscle Massage Oil
Make an herbal infusion of Sage leaves, Rosemary leaves and Basil in Olive Oil or the oil of your choosing. You can use the methods outlined in the Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book on page 324-329. Make at least 2 cups to 1 quart of the oil infusion. To every quart of the strained herbal infused oil add up to ¼ oz. of essential oil (2.5% EO). My favorite combination is equal amounts of Basil, Rosemary and Sage essential oil. Very comforting, very relaxing.


Culinary Recipe by Jeanne Rose.

Delicious & Simple Turkey Stuffing
2 oz. butter
1 Onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery with tops, finely sliced
1 sweet Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1-2 T (tablespoon measure) Olive oil
½ cup coarsely chopped or sliced Mushrooms
2 T (tablespoon measure) fresh Sage, coarsely chopped
½ cup Parsley, chopped
¼ cup wheat germ (optional)
½ lb. whole wheat bread croutons (toasted)
salt, soy sauce, optional

Sauté in the butter the Onions, Celery, Garlic, and Bell Peppers. In another pan, sauté Mushrooms in the olive oil. Combine the two pans and add the Sage, Parsley, Wheat germ, and croutons.  Add salt if you like, and maybe some Soy sauce. Give it a few good stirs with a large wooden spoon. Lightly spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the turkey and bake or put into an oven-proof pan with some of the turkey fat and cook. —from Jeanne Rose Herbal Guide to Food.

Blending with formula:

Mediterranean Cologne

Eau de cologne is normally about 75% alcohol, 25% water + 5% EO blend. When I speak of alcohol I am discussing 95% neutral grape or grain spirit. If you cannot get this, then use ‘Everclear’ at 75% which already is 25% water. Then you will just need to add the essential oil blend. Any blend will do. But for Sage then additions already mentioned such as a sweet Lavender, Rosewood, maybe Australian Sandalwood, Violet leaf and the like would be appropriate. Try the following: Make a blend of 5 drops each of Sage, Clary Sage and Lavender. This is 15 drops total. Add this to 1 oz. of 75% alcohol and succuss (shake) vigorously. Put into a spray bottle and shake the bottle before each use. Spray on wrists, back of neck. [to 95 drops of the 75% alcohol add 5 drops of the EO blend].


Sage Limerick
Sage oil is useful for the bruise
It should be used on your cruise
To states far and wide
And wherever you ride
Sage oil will make you enthused.—JeanneRose2014.



Sage 2-leaf

Sage oval




7 thoughts on “Sage EO Profile

  1. Fabulous blog…thank you for the abundance of information. I did not know much about Sage or the hydrosol. I need to find a way to save all this great info. I see you have much information on other oils and waters too. I am looking forward to learning more! Thank you so much!

  2. Every one of these profiles contains a wealth of information. As soon as I cool down just a bit (with Lemon Verbena/Lemon Balm hydrosol) I am gathering Sage from my garden and making a hydrosol with it. I plan to try both the insect repellent and the deodorant (with the Sandalwood/alcohol application first). Thanks!

  3. The sage, clary sage and lavender cologne smells good. Thank you for sharing your knowledge that is always so well researched and thorough.

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