Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, common sage, or culinary sage) is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region, though it has been naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times it has been used as an ornamental garden plant. The common name “sage” is also used for a number of related and unrelated species.
Among the components of sage believed to have therapeutic properties are camphor, carnosic acid, carnosol, and phenolic acids. Camphor is the oily substance that gives sage its pungent aroma. Popularly used in topical creams and ointments, camphor actively stimulates nerve endings, producing a warm sensation when vigorously applied or a cool sensation when applied gently. Carnosic acid and carnosol both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They directly activate a molecule known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma) that helps regulate blood sugar, lipids, and inflammation, among other things. Phenolic acids are plant-based chemicals that exert significant antioxidant properties, protecting cells from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals, including the heart and brain.