Sage Enhances Mental Performance, Cognition, and Memory
Salvia (Sage) comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to heal.’ There are over 900 species of Salvia throughout the world, the most popular being Salvia officinalis L. Recent research has demonstrated its ability to enhance mental performance, cognition, and memory.
Salvia officinalis L., also known as Common Sage, is regarded as the queen of herbs, and is widely used in both culinary and medicinal preparations. Sage is native to Mediterranean Europe and has been traditionally used for the treatment of a range of problems including digestive and circulation disturbances, bronchitis, coughs, asthma, memory problems, angina, mouth and throat inflammation, depression, and excessive sweating. Sage is particularly noted for its ability to enhance ‘head and brain’ function, improve memory, quicken the senses, and delay age-associated cognitive decline(1).
Sage contains a large number of phytochemicals which have a vast array of biological activities, many of them relevant to disorders of the central nervous system. In particular, Sage has:
- Anti-anxiety and sedative properties
- Memory-enhancing properties
- Neuroprotective effects
- Potent antioxidant activity
- Strong anti-inflammatory activity
- Positive actions on blood flow
- Effective antidepressant activity
A list of some of the major components contained in Sage, along with their biological activities (as demonstrated in in vitro and in vivo studies) are detailed in the image at the bottom of this article.
Clinical Studies on the Brain-Enhancing Effects of Sage
The therapeutic effects of Sage have been investigated in several clinical trials(6). In the table at the bottom of this article, findings from human-based studies investigating its effects on mental performance, memory, mood, and attention are summarised. In addition to these studies, Sage has also been shown to effectively reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes(2); lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in adults with high cholesterol(3); reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels in adults with diabetes(4); and reduce hot flushes in men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer(5).
How Sage May Enhance Brain Function
The exact mechanisms behind Sage’s neuroprotective, neuro-enhancing, and mood-lifting effects are not yet known. As Sage contains dozens of constituents, it probably has multiple beneficial effects on several biological systems. A summary of how Sage works is demonstrated in the image at the bottom of this article.
Dosage recommendations for Sage
Studies investigating the brain-protective effects of Sage have indicated that an extract amount of 300mg, twice daily is probably the most effective. Sage should be used when cooking, but to ensure therapeutic, high-quality amounts are regularly ingested, we recommend using a supplemental form of Sage (one capsule, twice daily), and ensure it contains standardised levels of rosmarinic acid.
Contraindications for the use of Sage
The safety of Sage ingestion during pregnancy has not been investigated so is not recommended for pregnant women. Caution is also warranted for people on blood pressure medications.
Sage's Mechanisms of Action: