Nutrient Fact File; Sage
I am a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist. I make recommendations to my clients based on their individual needs. If this information is useful to you please discuss your options with your trained health practitioner able to help you to make natural choices that are suitable for your individual needs. Take responsibility for your health and choices.
Sage is a herb native to the Mediterranean, an evergreen perennial shrub it also is traditionally grown in south eastern Europe. It is a common garden pot plant. Sage belongs to the Lamiaceae family along with other herbs, such as oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and basil. The general scientific name is Salvia officinalis which is derived from the latin word to save or heal. There are many types of sage (red sage, clary sage and many others) Interestingly the word sage in the dictionary means;
1. a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom.
2.someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience
3. sager, sagest= wise, judicious, or prudent: sage advice.
To call someone ‘sage’ is to call them wise, full of wisdom and those known as ‘sage’ were also treated with an abundance of respect.
It is quite easy to grow and likes sunny conditions. A popular garden pot plant for centuries with many health benefits. It has been used throughout the ages in chinese medicine, in Arabic foods and medicine (they considered it gave immortality) and in Greek and Roman times. Throughout its long history of use, it has been thought of as a powerful and protective herb. It was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar – a mix of herbs which was made to prevent the plague. It is often hung in doorways as an protector (especially in Europe of protection from witchcraft!) or used in purification rituals my many cultures. Known as the “thinkers tea” Sage is one of those surprising “all over good health” foods. It is very distinguished and has an amazing aroma with a tactile appearance. Grey-green, soft leaves with visible fine hair-like growing on both sides. The leaves can grow to about 2.5 cm and looks very delicate but is strong and rich in nutrients with health promoting and disease preventing capabilities. Sage leaves are used and they are normally harvested just before flowering for cooking with. Tough stems can be discarded before washing them and gently drying the leaves before using. The leaves can then be dried in the sun or in the dehydrator then stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze chopped sage in a little water kefir or coconut oil In cooking sage is often paired with meat, vegetables, cheese and eggs. It is also traditionally used in stuffing for chicken along with parsley, rosemary and thyme. Pork with sage is another traditional known pairing. Used to both help digest foods it would also help to counteract any imbalances caused by bacteria or parasites in the meat. Since refrigeration is relatively new technology, sage along with other herbs would help as a natural preservative and could help to flavour and enhance stews and also vegetable dishes.
Health benefits of sage herb are numerous, the following list are conditions that may have seen positive effects when adding sage to the diet. They are also the traditional ways that the herb has been used. The main components of sage, from a medicinal perspective, seem to be found in the oils in the herb which may be why a balanced ecosystem in the digestive system has been seen to help to release and absorb Sage’s nutritious offerings.
Sage has a long list of beneficial nutrients including Vitamin K; antioxidants like vitamin A, beta-carotene levels and vitamin C. Also B-complex of folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine and riboflavin. Together with minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium, Sage is a nutrient powerhouse. Organic Compounds include α-thujone, and β-thujone, cineol, borneol, tannic acid, cornsole and cornsolic acid; fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic and nicotinic acids; nicotinamide; flavones; flavone glycosides and oestrogenic substances. Most of these compounds have been seen to have some evidence of being anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. This study confirms its microbial balancing abilities by showing efficiency against Staph infections. Which makes sense for why this herb was traditionally used to protect against infection and preserve meats.
Menstrual cycle and Menopausal symptoms;
There are phytoestrogen substances in Sage which may help to mimic estrogen, which may benefit menopausal women and other mensural imbalances. During menopause the ovaries diminish their release of oestrogen. Hot flushes is one of the symptoms of this. The adrenals take over the production of oestrogen and the adrenals and liver are often associated with heat. Phyto-oestrogens can help the body to recognise oestrogens in the body without the body actually absorbing them completely. Herbs with phytoestrogens require healthy digestive system bacteria levels to help access and utilize the hormones as mentioned above. Sage may be able to suppress perspiration and help the body cool down during a hot flush (see this study) Oestrogen may also affect the brain, causing changes in emotional well-being. Sage has been seen to help many to relieve some anxiety and depression symptoms associated with menopause or other menstrual cycle imbalances. Sage may also help others to deal with grief and depression by helping to lift mood and balance hormone levels. Check out this recipe for Lemon Sage Cordial
Memory, concentration and moods enhancer
Sage has been traditionally used over the centuries to enhance concentration, attention span and has also been seen to quicken the senses and improve memory. Sage may play a role in the treatment methods for memory loss associated with the diseases like Alzheimer’s. “extracts possess anti-oxidant, estrogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and specifically inhibit butyryl- and acetyl-cholinesterase (both of these disrupt neurotransmitters message integrity- affecting memory- source)…whilst a chronic regime (of sage) has been shown to attenuate cognitive declines in sufferers from Alzheimer’s disease” (source) This means that Sage will not only support memory function (Studies showed clear improvement in cognitive recall), but also the integrity of message from the brain to the rest of the body. Enhancing messages to the rest of the body can have several advantages for many people. Especially in healing situations to help release anxiety and stress to the body. Other reports suggest that sage essential oil can help to relieve headaches and fatigue. Chinese Medicine has used Red Sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza, also known as Danshen or Chinese Sage in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease for over thousands of years. Some of the compounds found are similar to the ones that have been used to produce AChE Inhibitors used in pharmacological medicines to treat Alzheimers. They have been seen to reduce plaques which form in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. Also allowing better blood circulation through the brain.
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Three lobe sage(a specific type of Sage) contains called salvigenin. Research studies found that salvigenin may offer benefits in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by relaxing the walls of blood vessels. Flexibility in veins and arteries is very important in heart health. Chinese Sage has also been used for centuries as a blood thinner to reduce blood clots and ‘invigorate the blood‘. Traditional Chinese medicine use it with other herbs to help improve circulation and reduce hardening of the arterial walls. Sage’s reported anti-inflammatory capabilities (source) may also help with cardiovascular health as almost all cases of heart health have inflammatory indicators (source and here). Sage tea has also been reported to balance cholesterol levels by having a positive effect on HDL and LDL levels (source)
Sage’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (vitamin A content) may also help us to understand how Sage and Sage oil can help in irritated skin conditions. Sage herb oil can be used used externally, rubbed on the skin, and has been seen to soothe painful ailments like muscle stiffness, rheumatism, and other nerve pains. Through Sage’s support of the digestive system, the excretory role of the skin is reduced and more nutrients are absorbed to help provide strong building blocks for the skin. Sage oil is often recommended as a hair rinse for dandruff, oily hair, or infections of the scalp. The herb reportedly restores color to gray or white hair (source).
Diabetes type 2
By helping to balance hormone levels (oestrogenic compounds) insulin is also affected in a positive way. A research team at the Research Institute of Medicinal Plants in Iran found that “Salvia officinalis leaf extract may have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid profile. This is beneficial for diabetes patients. Reduced cholesterol imbalance is connected to a reduction in type 2 diabetes symptoms. With improved blood circulation and reduced inflammation (as mentioned above) the body is going to work better in all areas. By helping to increase digestive ability and stimulating appetite it is reasonable to expect that the blood sugar levels and hormone levels of the body will be come more balanced, thus improving the lives of those with type 2 diabetes.
Supports the digestive system
Rosmarinic acid is found in Sage and Rosemary. It may be readily absorbed from the GI tract especially when consumed with a healthy ecology in the body or with fermented products. Once inside the body, this oil has been seen to reduce inflammatory responses by altering the amounts of inflammatory messengers released by the immune system. This moderates the immune system and its response. The rosmarinic acid in sage may also function as an antioxidant. Together with the antioxidant capabilities, sage can help to give the digestive system space to heal and repair. Especially in any IBD (crohn’s or ulcerative colitis), IBS symptoms, leaky gut and other digestive sensitivity issues (intolerances, eczema, heartburn). Like most culinary herbs, sage is traditionally used as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant. You can use it to help reduce gas in the intestines and, as it may have antispasmodic herbal actions, it may also help to relieve abdominal cramps and bloating. The volatile oils in sage help to maintain balance in bacterial levels. The fibre in the leaves and stems can help feed bacteria, making the herb useful to encourage and create a balance mycobacterial environment to help our bodies to function normally.
The respiratory system is harmonised when the immune system is less sensitive. Sage’s assistance in anti inflammatory and anti oxidant actions, whilst balancing bacteria can greatly enhance and help to heal the respiratory system. It is often used to help asthma symptoms. Sage is astringent and so may help to dry up phlegm. With its bacterial balancing abilities you can gargle with the tea to help protect and treat coughs and tonsil or throat infections. It is also chewed to help balance the bacteria in the mouth to prevent tooth infections.
when breast feeding or when pregnant restrict sage intake (unless cooking with it). The properties have been reported to help dry up milk. It is often used after breastfeeding to restore hormone balance. The herb should not be used in pregnancy as chemical compounds like thujone in it may cause uterine stimulation resulting in miscarriage (hence clary sage is used during labour but not in pregnancy) When prescribed blood thinners, be aware sage (like garlic) has similar actions and will also thin the blood. It is also not recommended with epilepsy. If any doubt contact your naturopath, herbal practitioner or aromatherapist.
http://foodfacts.mercola.com/sage.html http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sage-herb.html http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266480.php http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/sage-herbal-remedies.htm http://www.healthy.co.nz/ailment/2121-herbal-phytoestrogens-and-menopause.html http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Phytoestrogens.htm
Nutrient Fact File Sea Buckthorn
We have seen from historical records, the Chinese were the first to document use of Sea Buckthorn for its medicinal properties. More than a thousand years ago Sea Buckthorn was added to a classical Tibetan medical book. In 1977, after numerous studies, it was also added to the Chinese Pharmacologia. For a full history into the studies and findings of Sea Buckthorn see here . Also to see a full list of its nutritional constituents please see here.
Sea Buckthorn is a bush sized plant which yields bright yellow berries. The berry is considered one of the world’s most balanced fruits, providing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds with a lot of essential fats. The benefits are easy to come by as the plant is not overly processed and grows without the need of too much interference from the farmer. The ‘magic’ of this food is in the mix of its nutrients. It is high in a great mix of healthy fats whilst also packed with necessary bioavailable (which means the body can use them immediately) nutrients needed in so many cases of chronic inflammation and conditions.
This cherished “super fruit” is rich in antioxidants, essential amino acids, vitamin E, rare Omega 7 and 190 other bioactive nutrients. Rich in beta-carotene, flavonoids and vitamins C, D, E and K, sea buckthorn also contains a substantial complex of B vitamins and 20 minerals. Moreover, it supplies between 4-100 times more vitamin C than any other fruit or vegetable. It is a real natural powerhouse.
It grows in very dry desert like soil and loves the direct sunlight all day. Sea-buckthorn berries are edible and nutritious, though astringent, oily and unpleasant to eat raw. However they can be frosted (freeze dried) which reduces the astringency and/or mixed as a drink with sweeter substances such as apple juice (I would love to see what it is like in water Kefir!).
The leaves, flowers, and fruits are also used as natural medicine. When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea-buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea-buckthorn characteristic and uniquely high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3,6,7 and 9); and the bottom layer is then the sediment and juice. The fat sources are then largely used for cosmetic purposes, but the upper two layers can also be processed for skin creams, whereas the bottom sediment layer is normally processed into edible products like syrup.
The oil may be consumed either internally or externally, but it is recommended to combine doing both. By taking sea buckthorn oil internally, you will provide your body with bioavailable nutrients. Using it externally can also protect and nurture existing skin cells. It is also amazing rubbed into your gums to eliminate any infection or swelling, or just as a way of preventing cavities and gum disease.
The nutrients make Sea Buckthorn very anti-aging often also found in many cosmetics as . Some people apply sea buckthorn berries, berry concentrate, and berry or seed oil directly to the skin. If used topically, the sea buckthorn oils and supplements are known for strengthening the epidermis (skin top layer) and can penetrate to the cell membranes. In this way it can be useful for preventing sunburn; for treating radiation damage from x-rays; for healing wounds including burns, and cuts; for acne,dermatitis, dry skin, eczema and other skin conditions including age spots.
The fruit also contains dense contents of carotenoids, the precursor to Vitamin A; This vitamin plays a very important role in healthy dental care. Our tooth enamel contains keratin, and vitamin A allows keratin to be used for teeth rather than prioritising it for storage in cells. Also, vitamin A is key in protecting mucus membranes (that cover our digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems). Plus carotenoids are hugely anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
The berries also include Vitamin D which is essential for healthy tooth tissue and bone strength and density. It is also key in collagen formation, which is responsible for strength and solidity of the organ cells (such as teeth and bones, for example) which helps to repair and strengthen all of the body’s systems and also contributes to brain health and development
The fruit of the plant has a high vitamin C content and is about 15 times greater than oranges. Vitamin C also greatly influences the synthesis of collagen, therefore aiding in strengthening teeth, bones, connective tissue, mucous membranes and muscle mass. It is also key in energy production, protecting the cells from oxidative damage and moderating the immune system. Adding to this, vitamin c may also help to prevent tooth decay by balancing bacteria levels.
Nutrient and phytochemical constituents of sea-buckthorn berries are undergoing basic research in inflammatory disorders, cancer mechanisms or positive effect on bone marrow after chemotherapy and other health claims, although no specific health benefits have yet been proven by clinical research in humans. However anecdotal evidence is rich in its benefits and uses. Personally, over the years, it has helped me in many ways. To support, regulate and moderate my menstrual cycle (has reduced period pain and pms), it has helped me to reduce my systemic inflammation (especially in the digestive system), has played a role in my change of body shape and helps me to moderate my mood and motivation.
Few other healthy fats have such a combination of benefits and nutrients. This powerhouse has such an amazing combination of treats for the body.
Main actions are;
- Cell membrane integrity and structure; which helps develop strong and healthy cells throughout the body.
- Gastrointestinal and liver health; by using the above point to repair and also protect the mucous membranes
- Dental and gum health as it is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant also the fats help to develop strong healthy tooth material.
- Moderating a healthy inﬂammation (immune system) response
- Muscle/energy production
- Brain health; also helps to protect messages from the brain to the rest of the body
Historically has been used in the following conditions with some effect;
And a review published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology states:
“Sea buckthorn has been scientifically analyzed and many of its traditional uses have been established using several biochemical and pharmacological studies. Various pharmacological activities such as cytoprotective (protects cells-ed), anti-stress, immunomodulatory (moderates the immune system-ed), radioprotective, anti-atherogenic (supports heart health-ed), anti-tumor, anti-microbial and tissue regeneration have been reported.”
Many people still think Dairy is the best source of calcium, this is not so especially pasturised milk from corn/grain fed cows. Cows need grass and to be milked within their limits and left to pasture and live a natural life for their milk to contain levels of calcium (also all the other vitamins, minerals necessary for calcium absorption to be present in the right amounts- esp Vit D from them being outside in the daylight). Then you need the milk to be in its raw alive state for the body to be able to use the enzymes in milk to digest and absorb calcium. Since this is rare (and impossible to get Raw Milk in Hong Kong) you are better off relying on other natural food sources of calcium to meet child and adult needs.
Don’t believe me check out the research;
” A recent review on dairy products and bone health (Lanou et al., Pediatrics 2005) shows that there is very little evidence to support increasing the consumption of dairy products in children and young adults in order to promote bone health.” (source/review)
What is Calcium?
Calcium is a vital mineral necessary for the human body. Its primary use is to maintain bone density and strength. However blood levels are crucial to keep our heart pumping. Almost 99 per cent of our calcium in our body is found in the bones (98%) and teeth (1%), the other one per cent of its role is in conjunction with Magnesium (which relax muscles) as Calcium is involved in the regulation of muscle contraction including smooth muscle found in the heart and digestive system, blood clotting, ph of the blood (calcium is alkalising) and nervous system function.
Calcium is generally found to be depleted in those consuming western diets. Especially those relying on dairy to supply calcium intake. A high protein (esp red meat and dairy) and starchy carbohydrate (sugar- especially refined and processed foods) diet will both be acidifying to the body (depleting calcium to help maintain the bodies optimum ph) but also will not contain calcium in order to replenish depleted stocks. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Where do we find it?
While milk and dairy products do contain calcium however the body is not able to fully utilise and absorb it. However several plant-based foods provide a more bioavailable source together with the nutrients needed to absorb it successfully.
Good plant-based sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, bok choi, broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, parsley and watercress.
Also rich in calcium are dried fruits such as figs and apricots.
Nuts; particularly almonds and brazil nuts and seeds including sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste).
Pulses including peas, chick peas, beans, lentils and fermented calcium-set tofu (soya bean curd like found in Miso).
Fish; especially those where you consume the small soft bones- sardines, whitebait and soft shell crab.
Molasses also provides a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium and many other nutrients.
However, while spinach contains a lot of calcium, it is bound to a substance called oxalate which inhibits calcium absorption, so it is important to obtain calcium from low-oxalate green vegetables (eg broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, watercress) Juicing or lightly cooking (steaming) these veg will help make the calcium more available. Grains, nuts and seeds contain a substance called phytic acid may hinder calcium absorption so soaking (and sprouting if possible) is recommended
What is needed to help Calcium absorption?
Without sufficient vitamin D (in the form of D3 usually) Calcium deficiency is likely to occur even if the diet provides enough calcium. This is because Vitamin D helps to maintain normal blood calcium levels. Magnesium, potassium (another vital component of bone material), vitamin C, and vitamin K, are all required for good bone, muscle and nerve connection health.
If taking a calcium supplement make sure it contains magnesium and D3. Both are necessary and without will render the calcium useless to the body and will be excreted (most doctors may prescribe a pure calcium supplement- please check with a Nutritional Therapist). Mineral powders and egg shells can be very effective forms of supplementing the diet. The way I like to ensure lots of calcium in my diet is by making my own bone broth (including my egg shells, green vegetables) eating lots of fresh leafy greens, nut milk, sesame seeds/tahini in most things and eating soft shell crab in our favourite sushi bar! I also use a great mineral powder in our Homemade Toothpaste.
Zinc (like magnesium and Vitamin C) is involved in many of the body’s cell synthesis and energy production tasks. It is a nutrient that is used in large amounts on a day to day basis. Zinc is water soluble so is washed away by rain in the soil and cooking will diminishes it’s presence within foods.
Zinc is also lost in processed foods and with its link to insulin it is also diminished within the body when consuming a highly processed food diet. The body also stores a small amount of zinc (mostly in skeletal muscle and bone, but also in the skin, adrenals, brain, heart, Nails, teeth and hair.
It is lost through faeces, urine and sweat. The best place to test a deficiency is by measuring the red blood cell containment of zinc (hair analysis and blood tests may not give an accurate picture). The easiest way to know if you are zinc deficient is to do a zinc drink test. See your local Naturopath/Nutritional Therapist to check.
I look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.
What does it Do?
Zinc activates 200 different enzyme, many of these are in the digestive system. Has a responsibility in DNA synthesis and protection of its integrity- this means it is vital in developing new perfectly healthy cells with good DNA. In this way it may also great for skin health and may aid in wound healing. It is also reported to have some anti-inflammatory action especially in joints and arteries.
Essential for maintaining immunity and immune function. It is useful used with acute dirrohrea, cancer, infection, colds and flu
Key in digestive health both in the enzyme activity within the gut to absorb food but also in the release of stomach acid and plays a role in your sense of taste and smell.
transporting carbon dioxide from the lungs, is a key support for most regulatory functions within the body for example lactic acid production in tired muscles is reduced with Zinc
vital for health of sexual organs (especially men’s prostate and semen), , supports blood sugar balance by supporting the body to produce and use insulin,
Where do we find it?
It is said that the zinc found in animal products is better absorbed as it is bound to proteins. Also the phylates on the outside of grains will also inhibit Zinc absorption (another reason to soak and sprout those grains). Seafood (especially shellfish- oysters and herring), Beef, Liver, Lamb and pork, eggs, whole grains (zinc is on the casing of the grain so whole-grains eaten in their natural form is the best form) especially rye and oats. Pecans and walnuts have the highest levels as do pumpkin seeds (good to make pumpkin seed milk- mix in with Almonds and pecans for a nutrient dense milk.) Also ginger root is a good source (one of the reasons for its benefit when feeling run-down (see here)
Factors that deplete it (increasing demand)
Diet high in processed foods, ageing (not as efficient storing it), growth periods (infancy and puberty), Birth control pills (PMS can also indicate low zinc levels), Alcohol (zinc is necessary for breaking down alcohol), stress, pregnancy, breastfeeding, copper intake, exercise, wounds, burns (including sun burn) and high blood sugar.
Zinc Policanate, methionine, cyesine or gluconate (bound to an amino acid) may be the most efficiently absorbed forms of zinc. Contact your Contact your practitioner (Nutritionist or Naturopath) for dosage advice.