Aromatherapy: Clary Sage

In ancient times, clary sage was praised as a panacea with the ability to render man immortal. Clary sage’s name is derived from the Latin word clarus, meaning clear. The tea was once thought not only to clear eyesight and the brain, but also to clarify one’s intuition and allow one to see more clearly into the future.

Simply sniffing the oil before going to bed can produce dramatic dreams and, when you awake, a euphoric state of mind. Clary was an important ingredient in one of the most popular European cordials. Along with elderflowers, it still flavors high quality Muscatel wine and Italian vermouth.


Distilled from the flowering tops and leaves of a three-foot-tall perennial, clary sage now is produced mostly for flavoring a large variety of foods. In fact, the largest U.S. grower does not produce clary sage for aromatherapy purposes. It produces the herb for R. J. Reynolds, the tobacco company, which uses it to flavor cigarettes.

Principal constituents of clary sage: Linalyl acetate, linalol, pinene, myrcene, and phellandrene

Scent of clary sage: Similar to ambergris, it has a nutty, winelike character that is bittersweet, thick, and heady.

Therapeutic properties of clary sage: Antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, sedative, deodorant; decreases gas and indigestion, brings on menstruation, relaxes muscles and nerves, and lowers blood pressure

Uses for clary sage: Added to a massage oil or used in a compress, clary sage eases muscle and nervous tension and pain. Its relaxing action can reduce muscle spasms and asthma attacks and lower blood pressure. Especially good for female ailments, it helps one cope better with menstrual cramps or PMS and has established itself as a premier remedy for menopausal hot flashes. It may be a gentle hormonal stimulant. Improve your complexion by adding it to creams, especially if you have acne or thin, wrinkled, or inflamed skin. In Europe, a tea prepared from clary sage leaf soothes a sore throat.

Warnings for clary sage: Large amounts can cause giddiness and headaches and raise blood pressure. Do not use with alcohol or if you are pregnant or suffer from breast cysts, uterine fibroids, or other estrogen-related disorders.


To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.