The Benefits and Side Effects of Sage Tea

Sage tea

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

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If you're walking through the aisles of your local grocery store, you'll probably spot common sage (Salvia officinalis). Well-known as a culinary herb, sage leaves are rich in vitamins (especially vitamin K) as well as other antioxidant compounds such as ellagic and rosmarinic acid, which, among other benefits, have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory components. Sage tea is claimed to help with certain health conditions (more on that later), as well as managing weight and even depression.

What Is Sage Tea?

Sage tea is a fragrant beverage made from the leaves of common sage, a plant in the mint family. The reviving tea has a slightly minty, yet bitter taste, which is why you might choose to blend it with other ingredients like ginger, mint, or with a slice of lemon and a dash of honey to sweeten.

Native to the Mediterranean region, Sage has a history dating back to Egyptian times, when the spice was discovered for it potential role in fertility. It has since been used for traditional herbal remedies in both ancient Greece and Rome. Despite relatively little research on the plant, sage is continuously flouted for its health benefits and properties in treating a number of conditions.

How to Prepare

The simplest way to enjoy a cup of sage tea is to place a prepared tea bag into a mug of recently boiled water, and let it steep for a few minutes. If you want to skip the tea bag and prepare sage tea yourself, here's how:

  • Add a couple tablespoons of fresh common sage leaves (or half that amount of dried leaves) to a mug or tea infuser.
  • Boil the kettle or heat the water to boiling point, leaving it cool slightly before transferring to your cup.
  • Once filled, leave the drink to steep for a few minutes before removing or straining the leaves from the water.
  • Add other desired ingredients to suit your taste.

Caffeine Content

Sage is naturally caffeine free, meaning it is suitable for those avoiding the stimulant or looking for a bed-time friendly tea that is unlikely to impact your sleep.

Health Benefits

While research on the health effects of sage is limited, there's some evidence to suggest that sage tea provides certain health benefits. Here's a look at several findings from the available research:

A Reduction in Menopausal Symptoms

Sage leaves are thought to be beneficial in reducing hot flashes, night sweats and excessive perspiration associated with menopause.

According to a study on 30 postmenopausal women aged between 46–58, the severity of these symptoms, alongside panic, fatigue and concentration, were reduced by the effects of Saliva officinalis extract. Though more studies with larger sample sizes are needed to conclude this as a health benefit, this study is a promising indication.

Alleviation of Oral Mucositis

This type of tissue swelling is caused by the lining of the mouth breaking down, and as such, oral mucositis can form painful sores and ulcers. It's a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy during the treatment of cancer.

A promising pilot study found that those receiving chemotherapy who rinsed with sage tea-thyme-peppermint hydrosol oral rinse were able to alleviate some of their oral mucositis symptoms. More research is needed to ensure the legitimacy of this health benefit.

Can Protect Against Oral Bacteria

In a 2015 study dividing 70 girls aged 11-14 years into two groups, one using a sage mouthwash and the other a placebo, results found that 21 days of using sage mouthwash significantly reduced the colony count of Streptococcus mutans in dental plaque. In fact, the count in the test group reduced from 3900 per sample (at the baseline), to 300 following three weeks of use.

It has been suggested from sage exerts that the leaves' therapeutic activities include antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which explains its effect on improving certain parameters of oral health.

May Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Sage extract was found to lower fasting glucose and total cholesterol in a 2013 study on 40 hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients who consumed S. officinalis leaf extract in the from of one 500 milLigram capsule for three months. Results suggest that S. officinalis leaves may have anti-hyperglycemic properties and improve lipid profile among such patients, although this may require higher doses in some for effects to take place.

Other benefits

Salvia species (which includes all types of sage) are said to have beneficial effects on memory disorders, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), heartburn, and insomnia. Gargling with sage tea is also claimed to be a remedy for sore throat and coughs.

It has been suggested that sage can potentially provide natural treatments for severe illness such as diabetes, lupus, heart disease, and cancer—yet scientific evidence for these claims is lacking.

Side Effects

Sage is considered safe to consume in foods, however, given the presence of the compound thujone, which can be toxic under certain circumstances, it's best to limit your daily sage tea consumption to 3–6 cups a day to avoid reaching potentially toxicological thresholds. Sage in essential oil form contains the substances thujone and camphor which, in extreme cases, can cause seizures and organ damage, reported by some who have consumed the oil.

However, the amount of thujone, camphor, and other compounds that are extracted in sage tea varies widely depending on the manufacturing process, such as harvesting and extraction.

Generally speaking, it's best to avoid sage tea if you have allergies to sage or other plants in the Lamiaceae plant family (such as peppermint and oregano).

Pregnant women shouldn't consume sage in excess of the amounts used in cooking, as a higher intake can spark uterine contractions—not to mention, its compounds can have toxic effects on the fetus and newborns. Therefore, breastfeeding women may want to avoid consuming sage tea, or consult first with your healthcare provider.

Sipping a cup of sage may help in enhancing your health, given its antioxidant compounds, however, the research is lacking as to its definitive benefits. Be mindful of your intake as excessive amounts can expose you to increased levels of thujone and camphor.

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8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. Kianbakht S, Dabaghian FH. Improved glycemic control and lipid profile in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients consuming Salvia officinalis L. leaf extract: a randomized placebo. Controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2013;21(5):441-446. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.07.004

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