Can Sage Help Lower Your Cholesterol? (2024)

Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is an aromatic plant that is usually dried and used as a culinary herb. For centuries, sage also has also been used in both Eastern and Western cultures as a medicinal plant.

Common sage is sometimes mistaken for sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), which is native primarily to western North America.

In recent years, scientists have studied the use of sage, sage tea, or sage extracts in preventing or treating some common medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, inflammatory conditions, and hot flashes.

This article explains what sage is made of, how people use it, and the research on its potential health benefits. It also explains how sage can be taken and how to take it safely.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements the way it regulates prescription drugs. That means some supplement products may not contain what the label says.

When choosing a supplement, look for third-party tested products (such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia, Consumer Labs, or NSF)and consult a healthcare provider, registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), or pharmacist.

Can Sage Help Lower Your Cholesterol? (1)

Sage and Sage Tea Benefits

Sage contains powerful antioxidants and other nutrients with disease-fighting properties. Potential benefits of sage, sage extract, and sage tea include:

  • Boosts memory
  • Eases menopausal hot flashes and night sweats
  • Fights inflammation
  • Improves blood sugar control
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Prevents cancers
  • Promotes skin healing
  • Relieves sore throat and tonsillitis
  • Treats cold sores

Sage Nutrition Facts

One teaspoon of ground sage contains:

  • Energy (calories): 2 kcal
  • Protein: 0.1 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 0.4 grams
  • Fiber: 0.3 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin K: 12 micrograms (mcg), 10% of the Dietary Reference Intake (RDI) for men and 7.5% of the RDI for women
  • Iron: 0.2 mg
  • Calcium: 12 mg
  • Manganese: 0.02 mg

Uses of Sage

There are numerous varieties of sage used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The most common isSalvia officinalis (also known as common sage). Other edible varieties include Salvia lavandulaefolia and Salvia plebeia.

Sage contains a few ingredients thought to have health benefits, such as:

  • Camphor: This oily substance gives sage its pungent aroma. Popularly used in topical creams and ointments, camphor actively stimulates nerve endings. It produces a warm sensation when vigorously applied or a cool sensation when applied gently.
  • Carnosic acid and carnosol: These have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They directly activate a molecule known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma). PPAR-gamma helps regulate blood sugar, lipids, and inflammation, among other things.
  • Phenolic acids: These are plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties, protecting cells from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

There is evidence, albeit sparse, to support some of the benefits of sage.

Cancer Prevention

Scientists have shown that parts of S. officinalisor S. lavandulaefolia have inhibited cancer cell growth in test tube studies. These components include carnosol, rosmarinic acid, and ursolic acid. They’ve been shown to have activity against the following types of cancer cells:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Prostate cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Small-cell lung carcinoma

While animal studies don’t always translate to humans, a 2017 review of studies reported that rosmarinic acid given daily to mice prevented skin cancer and bone metastasis from breast cancer.

This doesn’t necessarily mean sage can prevent cancer in humans. Determining that will require trials in people. As one group of researchers said: “... extensive pharmacological and chemical experiments, together with human metabolic studies, should be the focus of our future studies.”

Breast Cancer Treatment

Lower Cholesterol

One study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research concluded that sage has cholesterol-lowering effects. According to the research, people given 500 milligrams (mg) of sage leaf extract three times daily achieved an overall improvement in their blood lipids (fats) after two months.

Among the findings:

  • Total cholesterol levels were lowered by 19.6%.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (known as “bad cholesterol”) wasreduced by 19.7%.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (known as “good cholesterol”) was increased by more than 20%.
  • Triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood) were lowered by 22.8%.

However, other studies have not demonstrated similar results.

Natural Supplements for Lower Cholesterol

Improved Memory

There is evidence, though limited, to suggest that sage can improve memory and information processing.

A 2017 review suggested that two types of phenolic acid found in sage—rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid—improved alertness and cognitive skills in mice.

Other studies included in the review found that sage and its active ingredients were associated with improvements in:

  • Short-term memory
  • Alertness
  • Speed recall
  • Mood

A 2014 systematic review found Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulaefolia may enhance memory and improve cognitive function in healthy subjects and those with dementia or cognitive impairment. However, the authors noted that study design issues and the use of different herbal preparations (extracts, essential oil, use of raw material) make these results inconclusive.

More research is needed.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Sage may be beneficial in providing relief for inflammatory conditions such as sore throat and sunburn.

A study from Switzerland showed that an oral spray made from extract of sage and echinacea was just as effective in treating an acute sorethroat as the combination of chlorhexidine and lidocaine. Chlorhexidine and lidocaine are pharmaceutical drugs commonly used in oral anesthetics. This combination may also help relieve tonsillitis pain and speed the healing of cold sores when applied as a salve or ointment. However, it’s challenging to know sage’s effects alone.

Other studies have found that S. officinalis has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

Menopause Symptoms

Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of menopause. A 2016 study reported taking a 100 mg daily dose of sage for eight weeks reduced the incidence of hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Moreover, it appeared to do so without influencing hormone levels.

A 2023 review of four studies that included a total of 310 participants found Salvia officinalis reduced the frequency of menopausal hot flashes.

Another study looked at the effects of sage aromatherapy on sexual function and satisfaction in postmenopausal women. The study authors found sage oil aromatherapy twice a day 5 days a week for 6 weeks improved sexual function and satisfaction compared to the control group given almond oil aromatherapy.

Ways to Relieve Menopausal Hot Flashes

Other Uses

Although more research is needed, sage may also be useful for the following:

  • Reducing the severity of psychological and physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Treatment of vagin*l yeast infections either alone or in combination with clotrimazole

Sage Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients:Camphor, carnosic acid, carnosol, phenolic acids
  • Alternate names: Common sage, garden sage,true sage, Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulaefolia
  • Legal status:Available over the counter
  • Suggested dose:There is no established dose, but up to 1,500 mg per day is generally considered safe
  • Safety considerations:Should not be used by people who are pregnant, or taking anticonvulsant drugs or diabetes medication

What Are the Side Effects of Sage?

As a supplement, sage does not usually cause side effects at recommended dosages for up to four months. High-dose or long-term use of sage may not be safe.

Side effects that have been reported include occasional:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Wheezing
  • Increased level of red blood cells in urine
  • Elevated level of sodium in the blood
  • Skin rash

Sage essential oil, inhaled as aromatherapy, should be safe. Do not ingest sage essential oil.

Is Sage Safe for You?

When consumed as a spice in food, sage is considered safe for adults and children. Like some other essential oils, sage oil can be toxic and should never be taken orally. Even when applied topically, the oil must be diluted or it could cause rash or irritation.

Do not take sage supplements while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Be careful with sage if you have a ragweed allergy. People with ragweed allergies may also be sensitive to certain foods with similar proteins in them, including sage. This phenomenon, called “oral allergy syndrome,” is rarely severe, but be alert for itchiness or swelling in or around your mouth and throat.

Dosage: How Much Sage Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

The recommended dosage of supplemental sage generally ranges from 280 mg to 1,500 mg by mouth daily for up to 12 weeks. If you use sage capsules or extracts, never consume more than the recommended dose on the product label.

Are sage tablets or gel caps vegan?

Not always. Gel caps in particular are sometimes made from animal gelatins rather than vegetable cellulose. To be safe, purchase products that are labeled “vegan” or “vegetarian.”

Sage can also be used as a fresh or dried herb and is sold as a tea. The tea has a slightly minty, aromatic taste that can be bitter. Some people prefer adding sweetener to sage tea.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Sage?

Sage may be unsafe when taken in high doses or for a long time. Some species of sage, including common sage (Salvia officinalis), contain a chemical called thujone. Too much thujone can cause seizures in experimental animals and may also do so in people. Cases of seizures have been reported in people consuming sage essential oil (which is high in thujone).

Both camphor and sage in essential oils may worsen migraine or cluster headaches.


Because of the seizure-inducing effects of substances such as thujone, sage can make anticonvulsant drugs less effective if used in excess.

If you take diabetes medications, the excessive use of sage can trigger a potentially severe drop in blood sugar, leading to hypoglycemia. Sage may also lower blood pressure, so be sure to monitor your blood pressure if you are also taking medications that lower blood pressure.

Use herbs and supplements that have anticonvulsant, blood sugar lowering, and blood pressure lowering effects with caution when using sage. Tell your healthcare provider about any medications you’re taking, including herbal remedies like sage, so you’re fully aware of the potential interactions and risks.

USP publishes the Dietary Supplements Compendium, an online, subscription-based database that provides quality standards for the production of dietary supplements. Supplements that pass USP’s quality requirements are awarded a distinction called the USP Verified Mark.


Sage and sage extracts are being examined in research for common medical conditions, including lowering cholesterol, enhancing memory, improving inflammatory conditions, and reducing menopausal symptoms.

Doses of up to 1,500 mg per day are generally considered safe and well-tolerated by healthy people.

Talk with your healthcare provider before taking sage or any supplements to ensure it is safe for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are sage tablets or gel caps vegan?

    Not always. Gel caps in particular are sometimes made from animal gelatins rather than vegetable cellulose. To be safe, purchase products that are labeled “vegan” or “vegetarian.”

  • Is burning sage good for you?

    Burning sage is a cleansing ritual that comes from traditional indigenous American medicine. Its health benefits have not been well studied. It is also important to remember that inhaling smoke of any kind, including smoke from sage, may cause lung problems. If you have asthma or another chronic respiratory condition, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider before you burn sage in your home.

Can Sage Help Lower Your Cholesterol? (2024)
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