An introduction to the medicinal benefits of sage and elder
This week another two wonderful medicinal herbs from our backyards; Sage and Elder.
Sage – A well known but often under rated backyard herb with a diversity of medicinal and culinary uses. The word Salvia from Salvia officinalis , the Latin name for Sage, translates as ‘to heal’. Sage, as suggested by its name, is said to bring wisdom and if eaten every May, will bring a long and healthy life. Sage has long been used in Native American ceremony for purification or smudging. As a tasty addition to meals, Sage also helps aid digestion of heavy foods while imparting a unique and delicious flavour.
An infusion of Sage makes a great mouthwash to improve teeth and gum health. Its anti-microbial and astringent actions are also beneficial as a gargle for sore throats. Menopause is a time of transition into the role of an Elder and Wise One, Sage aptly then assists in this transition helping reduce night sweats and hot flushes.
Note: Use sage in moderation and avoid in pregnancy
Elder – Regarded in Australia as a renegade weed, Elder holds a sacred place in European folklore. The Elder tree is considered home of the fae folk and the use of its timbers for making whistles and flutes is fitting, for they are great lovers of music and merrymaking. Elder also has a reputation for warding off ‘evil spirits’ (sickness and disease) and its leaves and branches had many an application around the home and in businesses. The leaves of Elders can be used as a deterrent for flies and their distinct odour is said to impart some anti-microbial actions, certainly improving sanitary conditions.
Known as ‘the medicine chest of the country people’ Elder has a lot of medicinal uses however the most commonly employed parts of the tree are the flowers and berries, being a great remedy for coughs, colds and flues.
In the UK, spring and late autumn see the countryside filled with flowers and then berries great for making Elderflower cordial and then the berries can be fermented to make a tasty Elderberry wine.
Please as always, before using any of these plants, be sure that they have been identified correctly. If in doubt, don’t! Avoid harvesting herbs from roadsides or areas where sprays or other toxic substances may have been used. If you are experiencing a serious health condition, please visit your health professional.
Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.