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   Nov 06

Sage: Improving Memory and Mood – Clearer Mind, Better Mood

Well, if 21st-century scientists wrote proverbs, one might say, Why should he or she have memory loss when sage is available?

Clearer Mind, Better Mood

A supplement of sage might not make you “profoundly wise,” the dictionary definition of a sage. But it might make you profoundly grateful—as it brightens your mood, refreshes your concentration, and sharpens your memory. That’s exactly what several scientific studies show sage can do—confirming centuries of traditional use of the spice to improve memory and prevent age-related mental decline.

Better, faster recall. In a study by UK psychologists, researchers asked 24 healthy men and women (average age, 23) to take a series of 11 challenging memory tests—for example, seeing a different word flashed every two seconds for 30 seconds, and then having one minute to remember and write down as many of those words as possible. They repeated the tests several times a day on three separate days—and on some days they took a supplement containing sage extract before the tests, and on some days they didn’t. On the days they took sage, they could recall more, and they could recall it faster.

More calm and contentment. But the students didn’t only remember better when they took sage—they felt better, too. Calmer, more content, and more alert—for up to six hours after taking the spice. “The improvements in mood are possibly the most striking findings,” wrote the researchers in the journal Physiology & Behavior. (In a follow-up study several years later, the researchers again found that sage improved mood—and also reduced anxiety.)

The researchers theorize the spice improves memory and mood in several ways. Sage may block the action of cholinesterase, an enzyme that destroys acetylcholine, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that plays a role in memory, attention, and alertness. Sage might improve the functioning of the cholinergic receptors on brain cells that receive acetylcholine, like a dock receives a ship. Sage might boost levels of hormones that refresh the brain. Sage might dampen neuron-harming inflammation. Sage might do all that—and more. The power of sage, said the researchers, is probably caused by “a number of different mechanisms.”

Preventing age-related memory loss. In another study, the researchers used the same series of tests to discover if sage could improve the memory-power of older adults—20 people with an average age of 72. Once again, a supplemental dose of sage extract improved the ability to process and remember information.

A “particularly important” finding, said the researchers in the journal Psychopharmacology, was a test that showed sage could reduce by half the ability of cholinesterase to destroy acetylcholine. That loss of acetylcholine in the brain is the main factor behind the advancing stages of memory loss in older people—starting with age-related memory loss, progressing to mild cognitive decline, and disastrously developing into dementia (60 to 80 percent of which is Alzheimer’s disease).

“The benefits in the present study thus reflect a substantial reversal of the deterioration in memory which typically occurs over approximately five decades of normal aging,” concluded the researchers. “Sage therefore has potential as an agent not only for general enhancement of cognition in older people, but also in Alzheimer’s disease, either alone or as an adjunct to more conventional therapies.”

Treating Alzheimer’s. And one study has tested sage in people with Alzheimer’s, with promising results. Doctors in Iran gave sage extract for four months to people diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Sage “produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive functions” compared to another group with Alzheimer’s who didn’t take the spice, reported the researchers in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

“The results of this study indicate the efficacy of sage in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease,” concluded the researchers. They also noted that sage may “reduce agitation,” a common problem in people with Alzheimer’s.

Sage from Head to Toe

But sage is good for more than the brain. It might help the rest of your body, too.

Sore throat. In a German study involving nearly 300 people, a spray containing sage extract was “significantly superior” to a placebo in quickly easing the pain and inflammation of a sore throat. The spray provides “a convenient and safe treatment,” concluded the researchers in the European Journal of Medical Research. In another study of 154 people with sore throats, a sage/echinacea spray was more effective in reducing symptoms than a spray combining the antiseptic chlorhexidine and the anesthetic lidocaine.

Heart disease. The root of a variety of sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) called “Chinese sage,” “red sage,” and “danshen” is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cardiovascular disease. In a study by Chinese doctors in the journal Phytotherapy Research, stroke patients treated with danshen were less likely to have a second stroke. In another study, in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, danshen slowed the buildup of arterial plaque in people with heart disease.

Psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis. German researchers found that a topical lotion containing sage extract worked as effectively as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream in clearing up irritant-induced skin rashes. Sage extract “might be useful in the topical treatment of inflammatory skin diseases,” concluded the researchers.

Cancer. Research shows sage has the power to prevent skin cancer in experimental animals and kill colon cancer cells in the test tube.

Diabetes. In animal research, sage stabilized blood sugar in chemically induced diabetes.

Herpes. In laboratory research, German scientists found sage extract killed the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes.

Ulcers. In animal experiments, Brazilian researchers found sage protected against the development of stomach ulcers.

Getting to Know Sage

Sage was used as a medicine for millennia before it became a culinary curiosity among Europeans, sometime during the 16th century. Over time, cooks came to appreciate sage for its grease-cutting action on game and sausage.

There are about 900 varieties of sage.

Sage is a prominent feature of Italian cuisine. It puts the flavor in the rolled veal and prosciutto dish saltimbocca alla Romana, and no ravioli worth its filling is laced with anything but browned butter sage sauce. Pasta fagioli is a meatless pasta and bean dish flavored with sage. Fegato alla salvia—liver with sage—is a popular dish in Venice. Sage is one of the secrets of authentic Italian pizza.

The Germans use sage in pork, lamb, and mutton dishes. A popular German dish is aal in salbei, skinned eel braised in onions, butter, and sage. The French put sage in cured meats and other charcuterie.

The English started the custom of smothering sage in onions and adding it to bread and sausage as a stuffing for holiday game birds. They also use it in mince pies. The English drank sage tea long before black tea became the afternoon tradition. They also made sage ale. But the best known use of sage in England is adding it as a flavoring to cheese. The green marbling in Sage Derby cheese comes from the liquid squeezed from sage and spinach leaves. Sage Lancashire contains chopped sage leaves.

In the US, many artisanal cheese makers in Vermont make their own version of sage cheese. Sage is also popular in the US as a spice in chowders, stuffings, sausage dishes, baked fish, baked pork chops, meatloaf, and melted cheese dishes. It is synonymous with the flavor of Thanksgiving turkey.

In the Middle East, fresh sage leaves are added whole to salads.

Sage is native to the Mediterranean. The perennial plant is easy to grow in most temperate climates, and makes a highly aromatic and attractive plant in the backyard garden, where its delightful violet-pink flowers attract bees.

How to Buy Sage

There are about 900 varieties of sage, but only a few are used for culinary purposes. Common sage (the variety Americans are most familiar with, and considered the most flavorful) has slender gray-green leaves with a downy texture on the top and a shiny, deep-veined underside.

Sage pairs well with these spices:



Bay leaf













and complements recipes featuring:


Calf’s liver

Fatty fish








Other recipes containing sage:

Basic Barbecue Rub

Pizza Spice Blend

Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Sage has a piney balsamic taste that is pungent and warm, like the taste of fall (just as mint is fresh and cool, like the taste of spring).

Sage Sausage and Apricot Stuffing

This recipe is just enough to stuff an 18-pound turkey. Cut it in half for a smaller bird or to stuff a goose. Cut to a third and it will stuff 4 Cornish hens. If you want to serve it as a dressing rather than a stuffing, put it in a baking dish coated with non-stick spray and lightly cover with tin foil. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

24 dried apricots

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 cups diced onion

3 cups diced celery

1 tablespoon baharat

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 pound veal sausage

8 cups cubed day-old bread

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup red wine

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Soak the apricots in enough hot water to cover for 45 minutes. Remove, dice, and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and cook until soft, turning continually until soft but not browned. Add the baharat and stir continually until the spices become fragrant, about five minutes. Stir in the sage. Set aside to cool.

3. Remove sausage from casing and put in a large bowl. Add the bread, almonds, and cooked onion mixture. Add the chicken broth and wine and combine. Add the parsley and season to taste.

4. Loosely stuff in the cavity of the bird just before roasting.

Makes about 4 cups.

Common sage is grown in greenhouses and is usually available year round. Other varieties of sage are also becoming available. Pineapple sage, from Mexico, has an unmistakable fruity accent. Clary sage is sweet and milder than common sage. Greek sage is stronger and has more camphor-like notes.

Buy fresh sage with bright full leaves that stand straight. Leaves that look dry and wilted are past their prime. Fresh sage will stay fresh for a week standing in a glass of clean water. The leaves will start to discolor in a few days if left in the refrigerator.

Dried sage is made from Dalmatian sage (native to Croatia, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic sea) and is sold whole, minced, chopped, crushed, rubbed (coarsely ground), or finely ground.

Rubbed sage is gray and woolly with a greenish tinge. It has a high oil content, which gives it a dusty finger feel. Because it is minimally ground, rubbed sage holds its aroma longer than finely ground sage.

Here’s how to dry your own sage: Trim the leaves from the stem and lay them on a cutting board close to a sunny window, turning the leaves each day until they are dry. This will take several days.

Dried sage will retain its flavor for up to a year if kept in an airtight container in a dark, dry place.

In the Kitchen with Sage

Because of its robust flavor, sage is best in hearty dishes. This makes it especially well-suited for the slow, long-cooking foods of fall and winter. Because it has an affinity for fatty food, it is an important spice to complement duck, goose, pot roast, sausages, meatloaf, stuffings, and organ meats such as liver. It also goes well with fall vegetables, such as squash, sweet potatoes, and apples.

Dried sage is stronger than fresh but both will dominate a dish, so use it sparingly. Mate it with other spices in order to deflect its dominance.

Here are some ways to add more sage to your diet:

• Deep fried sage leaves make a fashionable garnish. Dredge the leaves in flour, dip in whipped egg white, and fry in a layer of hot oil. Fried sage leaves take on a flavor reminiscent of artichoke. Throw them over pasta or fish.

• To make sage butter, melt a stick of butter in a pan, add a teaspoon of dried sage, and stir until the butter is lightly browned. Pour over pasta or pumpkin ravioli and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds.

• Sprinkle rubbed sage on cheese pizza.

• Add rubbed sage to macaroni and cheese.

• Add sage to meatloaf recipes.

• Add sage to eggplant and tomato recipes.

• Sprinkle sage on onions sautéed in preparation for long-cooking stews.

• Use diced fresh sage instead of dill on smoked salmon.

• Sprinkle a little sage on a fresh apple eaten out of hand.

Read more: http://health.tipsdiscover.com/sage-improving-memory-and-mood-clearer-mind-better-mood/#ixzz2jqxLlMtp

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