Clary Sage is a biennial herb that is native to Europe. In the past, it was found in Southern France, Syria, and Italy but in the modern era, this plant is cultivated worldwide mainly in areas like Central Europe and the United States. The scientific name for Clary Sage is Salvia sclarea. This plant has been used for many medicinal purposes over the years. Steam distillation is used to extract Clary Sage oil from the plant and this oil has many benefits in the medicinal field too. This plant belongs to the garden sage family but has a slightly different genetic makeup.
The word salvia comes from the Latin word ‘salvus’, which means having to do something with medicinal properties. The Latin word ‘clarus’ refers to the leaves and the seeds of the plant that are used for a clear eye. This plant belongs to the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family. The Clary Sage plant is not an endangered species as of now and is widely being used throughout the world.
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Features of Clary Sage
It is a perennial or biennial plant that grows up to a height of 3 feet. It has large and hairy leaves that only grow to a height of half the height of the plant. The stems of this plant are long and thin and can reach around 1.5 meters in height, on which there are lilac pink-colored flowers that rise above the leaves. The leaves are grayish-green in color. This plant is fragrant and aromatic and is generally used for decorative purposes.
Cultivation of Clary Sage
This plant begins to grow as a rosette in the first year and then, a flower stalk appears in the second year. It is a relatively short-lived plant that typically dies out after the second year. In a few climates worldwide, it can persist feebly for another season or two. The flowers appear somewhere between late spring and midsummer and are held in panicles that have around 6 blooms. The flowers of this plant are of great use too. They are dried and pressed for various uses. The USDA hardiness zone 5 is best for growing the Clary Sage plant. Well-drained soil and full sun are ideal to ensure the best growth. It can be started from seed, layering, or cuttings. The one thing that needs to be taken most care of for growing Clary Sage is the drainage. Wet areas can cause the plant to severely rot and can also cause the plant to stop growing. Additional irrigation is needed for this plant until it establishes itself well, but it can provide its own moisture later on in most zones except the very arid ones.
Types of Clary Sage
There are two main types of cultivars for the Clary Sage; namely Turkestanica and Vatican. These are discussed in detail below.
This herbaceous cultivar is characterized by longer flower bracts and prominent lilac color. It typically grows to a height of 3 feet and is 2 feet wide. This short-lived perennial forms a basal rosette of leaves in shades of green that are wrinkled and have a strong smell. In the blooming season which is late spring, the very showy inflorescence flowers can be seen. These flowers are very small in size and are very paper-like and white and pink in color. This variety can be the best addition to herb gardens, city gardens, coastal gardens, and perennial borders.
It looks beautiful with yellow Achillea and is very easy to grow, alongside being adaptable in the garden. The ideal growing conditions for this cultivar are full sun and soil that is well-drained and has medium moisture. Moist and sandy soils with good drainage are highly preferred. High heat, humidity, and wet soils should be avoided in order for the plant to grow healthy and at its best. This plant attracts a lot of bees and butterflies and is resistant to deer. It can also tolerate drought easily and stays free of diseases. Special care has to be taken in order for this plant to not be infected with slugs, leafhoppers, and snails. The hardiness zones for this cultivar are 5 to 9 and the heat zones are 3 to 9.
This variety is native to the northern Mediterranean, North Africa, and Central Asia. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this variety to make medicinal eyewashes are other remedies for diseases. In the modern age, it is used for adding flavor to wines, as oil for perfumes and potpourri. If this cultivar is sown indoors, it should be sown in pots and have high-quality seed compost. They should be covered with a fine layer of compost. The seeds typically germinate in around 10 days.
This cultivar is grown up to a height of 24 to 36 inches and is spaced 18 to 24 inches wide. Its USDA hardiness zones are 4 to 8. The flowers are white in color and bloom in late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer or early fall. The evergreen foliage with the white flowers gives a gorgeous look when coupled up. Full sun exposure is needed for the ideal growth of this variety. Mildly acidic soil with a pH of 6.1 to 6.5 or neutral soil with a pH 6.6 to 7.5 or mildly alkaline soil with a pH of 7.6 to 7.8 is ideal for the growth of this cultivar. The soil should be well-drained and moist.
The foliage color is grayish green and the sprouting time is around two weeks. This cultivar is attractive to a lot of pollinators but is deer resistant. The white flowers with green foliage have a very dramatic effect on the landscape. Overusing fertilizer can cause this plant to wear out and thus, special care should be taken about this factor. Aphids and mites can sometimes prove to be a problem. In that case, they should be treated with neem oil and insecticidal soap.
Benefits of Clary Sage Oil
Clary Sage oil is extracted by the process of steam distillation from the plant. It has a lot many benefits and the most important ones are listed below.
Clary Sage essential oil is used in aromatherapy to relax and calm the mind, releasing a person’s stress. It can be used to reduce the feelings of anxiety by regulating emotions through the olfactory system. A study done on women undergoing stress showed that the use of Clary Sage oil helped them significantly relax and calm their minds, and also reduced blood pressure.
A lot of oils are used to help fight depression and Clary Sage is also one of them. Others include chamomile, rosemary, tea tree, and lavender. Clary Sage does this by affecting the dopamine hormone which essentially regulates how a person feels. A study conducted on rats showed that Clary Sage oil greatly reduced the amount of stress they were feeling and hence helped them fight depression. A study done on women who were nearing menopause showed that simply inhaling this oil reduced cortisol, helping them feel euphoric.
Clary Sage essential oil is very effective in reducing blood pressure. It does this by relaxing the veins and thus reducing the risk of a stroke, heart attack, brain hemorrhage, and atherosclerosis. When blood pressure is reduced, the blood vessels are widened and this allows better blood circulation. This gives more oxygen to the organ and muscle system, thereby boosting metabolic performance.
This carrier oil can kill a lot of germs by making use of its antibacterial properties. It is known to stall the growth of a lot of fungal infections in the colon, urinary tract, and the intestine. It is also known to kill bacteria that exist in food and water. It also acts as an antiseptic and hence can be used to treat wounds. It can also be used to reduce sepsis. This essential oil can also help in case of flatulence.
Reducing Menstrual Cramps
A study showed that 48 women who were experiencing extremely painful menstrual cramps were given a cream with Clary Sage oil and a few other essential oils to relieve the pain. It was seen that the women who used the Clary Sage oil were much better able to alleviate the pain as opposed to those who used other oils.
Clary Sage oil also has a lot of benefits for the skin. An ester that is present in Clary Sage oil called linalyl acetate can greatly reduce skin inflammation and help reduce rashes. It is also known to regulate natural oil production in the skin, making skin look more radiant and beautiful. It should either be used directly or should be mixed with other oils like almond oil or coconut oil in order to give the best effect by absorption. It also helps reduce inflammation related to acne issues. A lot of skincare companies are using Clary Sage essential oil and tea tree oil in their moisturizers too. These are good for oily skin, dry skin or combination skins. A lot of people struggling with hair loss also use this essential oil and are pleasantly surprised with the results. Many manufacturers of skincare products also use Clary Sage oil to make their deodorants.
Usage of Clary Sage Oil
If the oil is being used for aromatherapy, 2 to 3 drops of Clary Sage should be mixed with water and other essential oils. An oil burner or diffuser can be used to diffuse this mixture into the air and this can help combat bacteria and other germs in the air when it vaporizes.
If the oil is being used for skin-related purposes, then 6 drops should be added to 1 oz of any other type of oil like coconut oil. That should be massaged onto the skin or wounded area lightly. A few drops of this essential oil can also be added to bathwater in order to calm the muscles and stimulate the good mood. If this oil is massaged onto an injured area, it can have an anti-inflammatory or anesthetic effect.
In terms of oral usage, 2 drops of Clary Sage can be added to smoothies to help reduce gum inflammation. 1 drop can be taken 1 to 3 times daily.
Special care should be taken when using this oil during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester since it can cause uterine contraction. Infants or toddlers should not be made to use this oil. In addition to that, this oil should not be used alongside consuming alcohol. When using it on the skin, one should ensure that this oil suits them and for that, testing for skin sensitivity should be done. This oil should be kept out of the ears, nose or eyes.
Side Effects of Clary Sage Oil
Usage of this oil can increase the levels of estrogen in the body. However, one study showed that this was not the case for most people. This is still a disputed area and a lot of research is still being done to test this.
Alongside that, a lot of supposed risks or side effects are mainly anecdotal and are not supported by research.
A precaution that should be taken is that before this oil is applied to any area of the skin, it should be tested in order to avoid any future complications. Apart from that, this oil should not be used before driving or operating any heavy machinery. If any serious issues arise due to the use of this oil, it is highly advised to take medical help, before this issue worsens. Special care should also be taken about the fact that this oil is obtained from a respected supplier who can be trusted, in order to get 100% pure essential oil since the United States, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate essential oils.
The Clary Sage plant is mainly cultivated for the usage of its oil since it has so many numerous benefits. However, care should be taken when making use of this oil in order to avoid any problems that might occur later on. A healthcare professional should also be contacted if needed.