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.