What is sage?
Sage (Salvia) is part of the mint family. There are over 900 types. Some types, such as Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulifolia, are a common ingredient in many cooking recipes and sometimes used in dietary supplements.
Sage has high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a long history as a folk remedy for many conditions, but it hasn’t been studied extensively for menopause.
Up to 80 percent of women who go through menopause will experience these symptoms as well as tiredness, loss of bone density, and weight gain.
Many women turn to the use of botanical remedies for symptom relief. Keep reading to learn what we know about using sage for menopause.
Research and effectiveness
According to the
One study, reported in Advances in Therapy, found that a fresh sage preparation lowered the severity and the number of hot flashes (also called hot flushes) in menopausal women. The research was conducted with 71 menopausal women in Switzerland. They took capsules of fresh sage once a day for eight weeks.
Forms of sage
Sage essential oil can be dangerous when ingested, so it’s important to read the directions on the bottle and follow them exactly.
Only sage capsules have been studied for menopausal symptoms. There isn’t enough research to know if other sage products work as well or what the best dose might be. Different sage products often recommend different doses.
Risks and things to consider
Because there are so many different types of sage, it’s important to research the type you take.
Some sage varieties contain a chemical compound called thujone. When taken in too-large quantities or for an extended period of time, thujone may negatively affect the nervous system. This can cause symptoms such as:
If you take sage supplements, be sure to only use products that say they are “thujone-free” on the label.
There are other safety concerns associated with sage:
- Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulifolia) and other types of sage may mimic the effects of estrogen, making them potentially unsafe for women with hormone-dependent cancers.
- Sage may lower blood sugar, interfering with medications for diabetes.
- Sage may have a sedative effect on some people.
It’s important to let your doctor know if you’re taking a sage supplement, including tea, especially if you have or are on medication for high or low blood pressure, any type of cancer, or diabetes.
A doctor, pharmacist, or nurse can be a great resource for your questions.
Other things you can try
The poses, deep breathing, and meditative aspects of yoga can be beneficial for women experiencing menopause. The mechanism by which yoga positively affects menopause symptoms isn’t fully understood, but it’s been shown to improve hot flashes and night sweats.
It may also reduce anxiety and increase positive feelings.
Like acupuncture and reflexology, acupressure concentrates on specific points along the body’s meridians. An acupressurist uses their hands and fingers to do this instead of needles.
Stimulating these points with exacting pressure may help to balance fluctuating hormonal levels, reducing certain menopausal symptoms.
A study reported in the
HRT and conventional medicine
There are a number of ways that your doctor can help treat menopause symptoms. One of these is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Your age and the amount of time that’s passed since you started menopause make a difference in the safety of HRT.
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) concluded in 2013 that HRT may be safe and most effective for younger women who are in early menopause. WHI’s recommendation is based on two studies they completed with 27,347 post-menopausal women.
Other conventional treatments for menopausal symptoms include medications such as:
What to know about herbal supplements
Herbal supplements are typically extracted from the leaves, stems, seeds, or flowers of plants. Then they’re manufactured into teas, capsules, and other forms.
Many of the plants used to make herbal supplements for menopausal symptoms have naturally occurring compounds called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens can have some effects in the body similar to estrogen, the female hormone which decreases during menopause.
Herbal remedies are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as dietary supplements, not as medications. This means that they’re not as researched or as regulated as traditional medications, and there may be less oversight or assurance of the quality and ingredients in them.
Herbal supplement manufacturers also aren’t required to get FDA approval prior to selling their products. This puts a higher level of responsibility on consumers to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of the herbal supplements they choose.
Some very preliminary evidence suggests that sage might help improve symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats or hot flashes. Sage is available as a tea, essential oil, and oral supplement.
Only the supplement form of sage has been shown to be helpful for menopausal symptoms. Due to the limited research, the best dose to take isn’t clear.
Sage can have interactions with other medications, so it’s important to discuss your health regimens with a doctor. Let healthcare providers know about any herbal supplements you take.