What is clary sage oil?

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is a flowering herb that’s native to the Mediterranean Basin. The essential oil that’s extracted from the leaves and buds of the plant has a clean, refreshing scent that you can use as a skin balm or gently inhale as part of an aromatherapy treatment

Clary sage is easy to grow in high-temperature areas. It’s usually cultivated for its use as a flavoring in tea. It’s also known by the names “clear eye” and “eye bright” because of its traditional use as a treatment for eye health. But it’s now being studied for a variety of other health benefits.

Keep reading to learn about some of the ways clary sage oil can benefit you.

What are the uses and benefits of clary sage essential oil?

1. Stress reduction

Aromatherapy uses the power of scent to calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. Your olfactory system directly affects the part of your brain that regulates emotion. That’s why what you smell can trigger memories and elicit feelings, both negative and positive.

When used in aromatherapy, clary sage oil can help alleviate stress by inducing a sense of well-being. One small study done on women undergoing a stressful medical test indicated that when inhaled, clary sage essential oil elicited feelings of relaxation and helped to reduce blood pressure.

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2. Antibacterial properties

Clary sage oil in diluted form may have a positive impact upon some strains of bacteria. Researchers think it could be an effective treatment alone or in addition to traditional treatments for wound care.

In one laboratory study, clary sage oil helped heal severe dermatological infections caused by several strains of Staphylococcus bacteria. The lab study used swabs from the bacterial infections of 61 people. Each had a difficult-to-treat wound that wasn’t responding well to antibiotics. The wounds were caused by burns, diabetes, or surgical procedures. Diluted clary sage oil was found to be effective against several bacterial strains.

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3. Natural antidepressant

Clary sage has been tested on both animals and humans to determine its potential benefits as an antidepressant. One study done on rats indicated that clary sage oil could be beneficial for depression by acting as an anti-stressor.

Another small study with menopausal women indicated that inhaled clary sage oil reduced cortisol, the stress hormone, and produced an antidepressant-like effect.

Keep reading: Depression treatment options and where to find help »

4. Alleviation of menopause symptoms

One component of clary sage oil is sclareol, which mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. For this reason, clary sage may be effective at reducing some of the symptoms of menopause. Some research suggests that diluted clary sage oil applied to the bottoms of the feet can reduce hot flashes.

5. Reducing menstrual cramps

A small study examined 48 women who experienced painful menstruation and cramps. Some of the women were given a cream containing clary sage oil and other essential oils to apply onto their lower abdomens daily, between menstrual cycles. The women who used the cream had a significant reduction in menstrual cramps than the control group.

Read more: Can essential oils act as pain relievers? »

Does clary sage essential oil have any side effects?

The use of any type of essential oil should be discussed with your doctor before you start using it. Let your doctor know of any other medications or herbal treatments you’re using. Clary sage oil may not be appropriate for use in people who have low blood pressure.

How is clary sage essential oil applied?

You shouldn’t place clary sage oil directly into your eyes, nostrils, or mouth without your doctor’s permission.

Here are some ways you can try clary sage essential oil for yourself:

  • Breath the scent in deeply to induce calmness on the go. You can find small bottles at local health stores or online.
  • You can shake the oil in water and use it as a room spray. Just be sure to give the bottle a good shake between spritzes. You can also spray this mixture lightly on your bedding or couch cushions.
  • Do a patch test to check to see if you’re sensitive to this essential oil.
  • Don’t apply essential oils directly to your skin. Instead, add three to five drops in an ounce of carrier oil for a massage oil. Dab a stronger mixture directly on your skin, like a fine perfume. The pulse points at your wrists and temples or behind your knees and ears are all good spots.
  • Sprinkle clary sage oil onto faded potpourri, or use the crushed leaves and buds in tiny linen packets to make drawer sachets.