Herb of the Month: Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Doterra Essential Oil of the Month: Clary Sage
Rishi Tea of the Month: Peppermint Sage
In the language of flowers, clary sage represents “clearing the mind,” and “uplifting the spirit.” Derived from the Latin word “claris,” meaning “clear,” the plant earned its common name(s) after being used for centuries to help remove foreign objects from one’s eye. Hence, the many names it has been known by over time: Clear Eye, See Bright, Eyebright, Clarywort, and even Oculus Christi, or “Eye of Christ,” in the Middle Ages. The eye treatment is long gone, but the name remains. The Latin name “Salvia,” denoting one of the many varieties of sage, comes from the words “salvare,” which means “to save,” or “make healthy,” and “salvere,” meaning “to be well,” or “in good health.” Not to be outdone by its sage cousins, clary sage embodies its Latin name too, offering clarity and healing to more than just our physical eyes.
As an essential oil, it’s a go-to for stress relief, helping to calm anxiety and regain one’s clarity of focus. This oil is one of a few essential oils with a high percentage of “esters,” chemical compounds known for their anti-inflammatory properties and considered balancing and soothing to the sympathetic nervous system. They are the chemical contribution behind the uplifting feeling one gets from inhaling clary sage. This plant possesses some of the highest amounts of ester linalyl acetate, also found in another one of our favorite stress relievers: lavender (June’s pick of the month)! Both from the mint plant family, these two oils are sometimes mixed together in aromatherapy for use as a calming and uplifting additive to one’s bathwater or diffuser. This nighttime bath regimen is highly recommended for anyone suffering from insomnia.
Clary sage is closely related to the common sage (Salvia officinalis) we are so used to seeing in the kitchen, but only the young and tender leaves are used for culinary purposes. Native to the Mediterranean basin, parts of North Africa, and Central Asia, it grows twice the size of its common sage cousin and is considered a biennial. In its second year, it blooms in whorls of white, lilac, pink, or mauve flowers and the essential oil is steam distilled out of the flowers and leaves. It can be made into a tea and is also used to flavor wines, vermouths, and liquors. On an environmentally friendly note, it’s been used as a fixative in the fragrance industry since the 70s, helping to chemically bind scents, in place of a product only found in whales. (Yay!)
Nicknamed the “woman’s oil,” clary sage is also known for its ability to support and regulate the female reproductive system, treating symptoms of PMS, menstrual discomfort and menopause. There’s that linalyl acetate compound again, providing some pain relief. Linalyl acetate also supports the herb’s ability to soothe skin inflammation and balance the skin’s oil production. Because of this, you will often find clary sage combined with jojoba oil for use as a moisturizer. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as a healing tonic that brings balance to the 3 doshas (vata, pitta, kapha). And, in chakra work, clary sage is recommended for use with both the sacral and third eye chakras, where it helps dispel confusion, and promote strength, emotional balance, and relaxation.