Clary Sage

Clary Sage oil (Salvia sclarea)

  • Country of Origin: France
  • Extraction Method: Steam Distilled
  • Plant Part: Leaves and flowering tops.
  • Strength of Aroma: Medium

Aromatic Scent: Clary Sage essential oil has an earthy, fruity and floral aroma that is both nutty and herbaceous. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Euphoric’.

Blends Well With: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile German, Chamomile Roman, Geranium, Jasmine Absolute, Lavender, Neroli, Orange, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang.

The chief components of clary sage essential oil are sclareol, alpha-terpineol, geraniol, linalyl acetate, linalool, caryophyllene, neryl acetate, and germacrene-D.

The health benefits of clary sage essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antidepressant, anticonvulsive, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, deodorant, digestive, emmenagogue, euphoric, hypotensive, nervine, sedative, stomachic, and a uterine substance.

Purported Oral Uses and Benefits

In folk medicine, salvia sclarea extract is used as a general health tonic. It is purported to help treat mental fatigue, depression, anxiety, kidney disease, tension and migraines as well as to prevent and treat muscle spasms. It is also used to promote oral health and treat sore throats, bad breath and toothaches. Due to its estrogenic properties, it is used to restore hormonal balance, and to relieve symptoms of both premenstrual syndrome and menopause. Herbs2000.com states that salvia sclarea is beneficial for the treatment of a variety of digestive problems, such as upset stomach, gas, and both chronic and acute indigestion.

Health Benefits

Fights Depression: Clary sage oil can boost self-esteem, confidence, hope, and mental strength, thereby efficiently fighting depression. This can be very helpful for forms of depression due to failure in career or personal life, insecurity, loneliness, stagnation, the death of a friend or loved one, and many other reasons. Clary sage oil also relieves anxiety. As an antidepressant, it can be systematically administered to patients suffering from acute depression who are undergoing rehabilitation.

Works as Stress Reliever: Clary sage serves as an antidepressant and as one of the best natural remedies for anxiety; it boosts confidence and mental strength while alleviating feelings of anxiety and failure. It also has euphoric properties, leaving you with a feeling of joy and ease. A 2010 study conducted in South Korea found that clary sage oil could be developed as a therapeutic agent for patients with depression. For the study, antidepressant properties were measured in rats with a forced swimming test; clary oil had the strongest anti-stressor effect.

Reduces Convulsions: It calms down and reduces convulsions, whether they are epileptic or from some other nervous disorder or mental condition. Clary sage essential oil brings peace of mind and acts as a sedative for tense nerves.

Relieves Spasms: Clary sage oil is useful in the treatment of spasms and related ailments such as muscle cramps, spasmodic cough, stomachache, headache, and spasmodic cholera. It relaxes the nerve impulses and doesn’t allow uncontrollable spasms to occur.

Prevents Bacterial Infections: This type of essential oil kills bacteria and fungi, curbs growth and spread of bacterial infections, and also protects against new infections. Studies show that clary sage essential oil is particularly beneficial in curing bacterial infections affecting the colon, intestines, urinary tract, and excretory system. It is equally effective in inhibiting the bacteria from entering our body through water or food.

Prevents Infections: Wounds will not become septic, nor will they be infected with tetanus germs if clary sage oil is topically applied to them. The antiseptic qualities can protect the body during surgical recovery and in all types of wounds that are typically hot spots for infections.

Stimulates Sexual Desires: This is one of the most well-known properties of clary sage oil. It is an aphrodisiac, which means a substance or stimulus that boosts libido and feelings of sexual desire. It is very effective in treating frigidity, psychological problems resulting in loss of libido, and even impotency. Studies have shown it to be equally effective for both, males and females. It affects the hormones and increases testosterone levels, which can increase performance and interest in sexual activities.

Prevents Hair Loss: If you think that your gums are weakening their hold on your teeth, sooner or later, they will start falling out. Speak to a dentist, but it is never a bad idea to use clary sage oil because it has astringent properties. It does not only strengthen your gums but also strengthens and tones the skin, muscles, and hair follicles, preventing hair loss and making you look and feel younger. It functions as an antioxidant in this way by tightening up the skin that might be sagging due to the activity of free radicals present in the body.

Skin Care: More specifically, there is an ester present in clary sage essential oil called linalyl acetate, which reduces skin inflammation and heals rashes. Furthermore, it balances and regulates the production of natural oils in the skin, reducing both oily and dry skin and making your skin look young and beautiful. It is recommended to be used directly or mixed with a carrier agent like almond oil to facilitate maximum absorption and effect.

Reduces Flatulence: Clary sage oil, owing to its carminative properties, can eliminate gas as quickly as a needle empties a balloon! That is, it will eliminate excess gas in your body through flatulence, which will reduce the sensation of being bloated. You might find it funny, but gas can actually be fatal when it pushes upwards and hits the delicate organs inside your chest cavity, so a downward movement is always the safest way to expel them. This essential oil also inhibits the formation of gas in the first place.

Regulates Menstruation: If you are having troubles with irregular, obstructed or painful menses, you can try clary sage oil before you spend a fortune on specialized treatment from a gynecologist. There is no need to worry since it has no adverse side effects. It simply stimulates the opening of obstructed menses and makes them regular, while easing the pain. It also cures dizziness and mental irritation during menses as well as in cases of Post Menopause Syndrome (PMS). Furthermore, it can help to reduce the symptoms and negative effects associated with menstruation like cramping, bloating, mood swings, and cravings for food by balancing the hormones that run rampant during this time for women.

Reduces Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of cells, nerves and hormones. Cholesterol travels in the lipids (fatty acids) of the bloodstream, which is also called plaque, and can build up in the walls of the arteries. This decreases the flow of blood to vital areas of the body, and if the plaque continues to build, it significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of clary sage oil are cardio-protective and help lower cholesterol naturally. Clary sage oil also decreases emotional stress and improves circulation — two very important factors for reducing cholesterol and supporting your cardiovascular system.

Relieves Depression: Clary sage oil can induce a feeling of immense joy, confidence, pleasure, and high spirits and fill you with the desire to live your life to the fullest. This is why it is frequently used to cure depression, chronic stress, and anxiety.

Relieves Insomnia: People suffering from insomnia can find relief with clary sage oil. It is a natural sedative and will give you the calm and peaceful feeling that is necessary in order to fall asleep. When you can’t sleep, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia affects not only your energy level and mood, but also your health, work performance and quality of life. Two major causes of insomnia are stress and hormonal changes. An all-natural essential oil like clary sage can cure insomnia without drugs by alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety, and by balancing hormone levels.

Lowers Blood Pressure: Clary sage oil is very effective in reducing blood pressure by relaxing the veins and arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, and brain hemorrhaging. By reducing blood pressure, it widens the blood vessels and allows for increased circulation, resulting in increased oxygenation to the muscles and organ system, boosting your overall metabolic performance.

Increases Circulation: Clary sage opens the blood vessels and allows for increased blood circulation; it also naturally lowers blood pressure by relaxing the brain and arteries. This boosts the performance of the metabolic system by increasing the amount of oxygen that gets into the muscles and supporting organ function. A study done at the Department of Basic Nursing Science in the Republic of Korea measured clary sage oil’s ability to lower blood pressure in women with urinary incontinence or involuntary urination. Thirty-four women participated in the study, and they were given either clary sage oil, lavender oil or almond oil (for the control group); then they were measured after inhalation of these odors for 60 minutes.

Acts as a Nervine: Clary sage essential oil is good for your nerves. It sedates nervous convulsions and other disorders such as nervousness, vertigo, anxiety, and hysteria.

Lowers Inflammation: Do you need to calm down? Do you want to concentrate? Or do you simply want to relax and have a good night’s sleep? Clary sage oil can help you with all of these. It reduces inflammations and has an undeniably calming effect. People suffering from chronic stress or anxiety disorders find great comfort by using clary sage essential oil.

Reduces Stomach Disorders: This oil also maintains the health of the stomach and regulates secretion of digestive juices. In this way, it prevents stomach disorders and helps to stimulate efficient absorption of nutrients, digestion of food, and regulation of bowel movements. It also helps in the healing of ulcers. By regulating bowel movements, it can also protect the integrity of your colon and reduce the chances of serious gastrointestinal conditions, including colorectal cancer.

Eliminates Bad Odor: Buying synthetic deodorants is not only expensive but they also negatively impact the environment. Their pleasant smell effect only lasts for a short time. Moreover, sometimes they produce skin irritation and allergies. Clary sage oil can be a far better choice as a deodorant, because, in diluted form, it serves as an efficient deodorant without any side effects. It is natural, so it doesn’t impact the environment, and its effects can last for a long time.

Promotes Digestion: Clary sage essential oil promotes digestion and relieves symptoms of indigestion. It boosts the secretion of gastric juices and bile, thereby speeding up digestion and easing the process, which relieves cramping, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.

Improves Uterus Health: Clary sage oil helps to maintain good health of the uterus. It prevents some of the most common uterine problems that women have after menopause, including uterine tumors, bleeding, and pain. Furthermore, it regulates hormones like estrogen and ensures a long-term health of the uterus, thereby reducing the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Fights Leukemia: A promising study conducted at the Department of Immunology, Hellenic Anticancer Institute in Athens, Greece, examined the role that sclareol, a chemical compound found in clary sage oil, plays in fighting leukemia. The results showed that sclareol is able to kill cell lines through the process of apoptosis. Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death; research involving the role of apoptosis has increased substantially since the early 1990s. An insufficient amount of apoptosis results in uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as cancer.

Other Benefits: Clary sage essential oil can be used to battle addiction (particularly drugs) and can stimulate a change in mentality towards a positive way of approaching life. Furthermore, it is anti-inflammatory in nature and can treat backaches and joint pain. In terms of skincare, it can help to regulate excess sebum production and prevent acne from forming. It also eases labor and reduces labor pains.

Uses at Home

For menstrual pain, combine Clary Sage with Geranium, Marjoram and Carrot Seed. Add to your favorite carrier oil and use as a daily moisturizer or diffuse into the air for its mood-enhancing properties. For topical application dilute to 2-4%.

Combination therapy with at least Clary Sage and Lavender appears to be effective in reducing menstrual pain.

For stress relief and aromatherapy, diffuse or inhale 2–3 drops of clary sage essential oil.

To improve mood and joint pain, add 3–5 drops of clary sage oil to warm bath water. Try adding clary sage oil to my Homemade Healing Bath Salts to boost your mood and bust feelings of stress.

For eye care, add 2–3 drops of clary sage oil to a clean and warm wash cloth; press cloth over both eyes for 10 minutes.

For cramp and pain relief, create a massage oil by diluting 5 drops of clary sage oil with 5 drops of a carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut oil) and apply it to needed areas.

For skin care, create a mix of clary sage oil and a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba) at a 1:1 ratio. Apply the mixture directly to your face, neck and body.

To ease digestion, massage the abdomen with equal parts clary sage oil and a carrier oil, or use a hot compress with 3–5 drops of clary sage oil soaked into it.

To enhance healing prayer or meditation, mix 6 drops of clary sage oil with 2 drops of frankincense, white fir or orange oils. Add the mixture to a diffuser or oil burner.

To naturally relieve asthma symptoms, mix 4 drops of clary sage oil with lavender oil and massage the blend on the chest or back.

For hair health, massage equal parts clary sage oil and rosemary oil into your scalp while showering.

Considerations

Salvia sclarea is generally recognized as safe, and there are no reported side effects. Despite its safety, pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid the herb. Due to the effect that salvia sclarea has on estrogen, people with estrogen-related disorders such as breast cysts and uterine fibroids, should avoid long-term use of this herb. It should be noted that the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database warns that there is currently insufficient research to determine the efficacy of salvia sclarea for its purported uses.

Possible Side Effects & Precautions

Use clary sage oil with caution during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester or when using it in the abdomen; clary sage can cause uterine contractions that may be dangerous. Clary sage oil is not for infants or toddlers.

There have been claims that clary sage oil brightens eyes, improves vision and protects loss of vision due to premature or normal aging; however, there is not enough research to suggest that essential oils be used in the eyes just yet. It may not be safe and should be discussed with your ophthalmologist first.

Avoid using clary sage oil during or after alcohol use; reports indicate that this may lead to vivid dreams and trouble sleeping. When using clary sage oil topically, make sure to test yourself for skin sensitivity. Apply the oil to a small area first to make sure you won’t have a negative reaction.

Chloral hydrate and hexobarbitone interact with clary sage oil; they cause sleepiness and drowsiness, and clary sage seems to increase the effects of these medications.

Word of Caution: It can enhance the intoxicating effects of alcohol and other narcotics since it is a relaxant and a sedative by nature. Heavy dosage can also cause headaches. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid using it since there has not been enough research done on the transference of effects through breast milk to children.

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Catnip

Catnip Leaf (Nepeta cataria)

The flowering perennial known commonly as catnip, catmint, or catswort actually has the scientific name of Nepeta cataria, and although most people don’t realize, this treat so commonly reserved for its sedative, calming effects on cats, also has extensive benefits for human beings. It’s native range is quite extensive, stretching across much of Europe and parts of Asia, including China, but it has since become a global export and can be found throughout the world. It is primarily potent due to a certain terpenoid, called nepetelactone, but various other chemical constituents and nutrients also affect various aspects of human health.

Nepeta cataria is a short-lived perennial, herbaceous plant that grows to be 50–100 cm (20–39 in) tall and wide, which blooms from late-spring to the autumn. In appearance, N. cataria resembles a typical member of the mint family of plants, featuring brown-green foliage with the characteristic square stem of the Lamiaceae family of plants. The coarse-toothed leaves are triangular to elliptical in shape. The small, bilabiate flowers of N. cataria are showy and fragrant, and are either pink in colour or white with fine spots of pale purple.

Catnip can be applied topically via the leaves or the essential oil, while catnip tea brewed from the leaves is also popular. The extracts and essential oils are also quite popular. The historical range of catnip uses include teas, juices, tinctures, extracts, salves, and even as an herb to be smoked, in addition to its culinary applications. The various forms of catnip have been used for generations in alternative medicine, and modern research has also shown it to be a reliable treatment for some common maladies.

Health benefits of catnip for humans include:

Stress Relief: The same quality that makes catnip so attractive to cats, namely because it makes them slightly “high” and sedates them, can also apply to humans in a more controlled way. Catnip can provide stress relief and reduce chronic anxiety as an herbal remedy when eaten, consumed in the form of a juice or tea, or when smoked as an herb. This can also help to reduce the secondary symptoms of chronic stress and strengthen your immune system.

Swallowed Emotions: A favorite use for this plant is to address the specific kind of stress and anxiety created in the body when people can’t express their emotions. This is perfect for someone who isn’t able to tell the boss or the in-law just what they’d like to say because it wouldn’t be polite, or good for the family budget.

Sleep Aid: Catnip has been used by people with insomnia or sleep restlessness for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The sedative nature helps to slow down the body’s natural cycles and induce a calm, relaxed state. People are better able to sleep through the night for undisturbed, restful sleep. Many people choose to drink a cup of catnip tea before bed to ensure a refreshing sleep.

Reduces Digestive Issues: Catnip is particularly effective in clearing up digestive issues, especially constipation, excess flatulence, cramping, and bloating. The relaxing, anti-inflammatory effects of catnip’s organic compounds can ease the knots and inflammation in your gastrointestinal system and relieve tightness and discomfort.

Colic: Catnip is a digestive herb. The scent that we get when we rub its leaves between our fingers is evidence of a high amount of volatile oils. This plant chemical is responsible for its ability to calm the stomach of an adult or a nursing child with colic.

Menstrual Cramps: For women suffering from particularly painful menstrual cramps, catnip tea is often recommended as an alternative treatment, because it can quickly relieve those cramps and stresses on the body. Furthermore, the sedative, calming effects of catnip can also soothe other symptoms of menstruation, such as mood swings and depression.

Headache Reliever: Although the exact mechanism isn’t completely understood, catnip has proven to be very effective in the treatment of headaches, even chronic migraines. Rubbing the essential oil on the affected area can work, but drinking catnip tea or rubbing a catnip leaf salve on the temples can also offer quick relief.

Fever: This is one of the most popular herbs for reducing a fever. It is part of a class of herbs called febrifuges. These herbs have the ability to cool the body by inducing a sweat. It is almost never a good idea to interrupt a fever. For the rare times that a fever has been particularly prolonged (your patient is becoming dehydrated and listless) or too high (over 102° for a typically healthy adult, around 104° for a typically healthy child) it can be helpful to have a fever tincture around.

Speeds-up Healing: In terms of colds and flus, one of the fastest ways to clean out the body is to induce sweating and get the toxins flushed from the system. This is particularly true in the case of fevers, when the lack of sweating before the fever breaks is only keeping those toxins and pathogens in the body. Catnip induces sweating, so is often recommended by alternative practitioners for treating the common cold.

Anti-inflammatory Activity: As mentioned above, the chemical constituents of catnip are particularly effective as anti-inflammatory agents. This means that catnip can be effective in the treatment of arthritis, gout, sprained muscles, aching joints, and even hemorrhoids. Topical application or normal consumption of leaves, juice, or tea can be effective for all of these situations.

Treats Skin Conditions: The natural repellent quality of catnip makes it ideal for keeping bugs away from gardens when kept as an ornamental plant, but the organic compounds in the plant make it ideal for soothing bug bites and relieving irritation on the skin. Applying salves or extracts to irritated or broken skin can speed the healing process and reduce inflammation quickly.

Complete Nutrient: Although eating catnip leaves is the least common form of consumption for human beings, catnip actually has a rather impressive collection of nutrients, from beneficial chemicals and unique organic compounds to essential acids, minerals, and vitamins that our bodies need. In other words, the plant can do a lot more than knock out a cat!

Cautions: For people suffering from liver or kidney disorders, the use of catnip may be risky, particularly if you are regularly consuming the tea. Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid catnip, as it can prematurely induce labor. Other than those specific concerns, catnip is generally considered non-allergenic and harmless to users. The high potency of the essential oil should be considered, however, and extracts should always be mixed with carrier oils.

Catnip for Cats

Catnip contains the feline attractant nepetalactone. Nepeta cataria (and some other species within the genus Nepeta) are known for their behavioral effects on the cat family, not only on domestic cats but also other species of cats. Several tests showed that leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip in a manner similar to domestic cats and while lions and tigers can react strongly as well, they do not react as consistently.

With domestic cats, N. cataria is used as a recreational substance for pet cats’ enjoyment, and catnip and catnip-laced products designed for use with domesticated cats are available to consumers. Common behaviors cats display when they sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some growl, meow, scratch or bite at the hand holding it. The main response period after exposure is generally between five and fifteen minutes, after which olfactory fatigue usually sets in.

Cats detect nepetalactone through their olfactory epithelium, not through their vomeronasal organ. At the olfactory epithelium, the nepetalactone binds to one or more olfactory receptors.

Not all cats are affected by catnip; roughly 33% are not affected by the plant. The behavior is hereditary. An early 1962 pedigree analysis of 26 cats in a Siamese breeding colony suggested that the catnip response was caused by a Mendelian dominant gene; however, a 2011 pedigree analysis of 210 cats in 2 breeding colonies (taking into account measurement error by repeated testing) showed no evidence for Mendelian patterns of inheritance, and instead demonstrated heritabilities of h2=0.51–0.89 for catnip response behavior, indicating a polygenic liability threshold model.

Other plants that also have this effect on cats include valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root, silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) wood. It has been shown that many cats who do not respond to catnip do respond to one or more of these three alternatives.

Health benefits of catnip for cats include:

  • The chemical compound in the plant that attracts and affects cats is called nepetalactone. It is found in the leaves and stems.
  • Nepetalactone is a stimulant when sniffed by a cat, producing a “high” that is described as being similar to either marijuana or LSD. (How this was determined, I do not know.) And the effects last for about 10 minutes before wearing off and the cat going back to normal.
  • When a cat eats catnip, it acts as a sedative, but when smelled, it causes the cat to go crazy. It is thought to mimic feline pheremones and trigger those receptors.
  • Cats may react to the plant by rolling around, flipping over, and generally being hyperactive.
  • About 50 percent of cats seem to be affected by catnip, and the behavior that results varies widely between individuals, and it is believed to be an inherited sensitivity.
  • And if your cat does have the sensitivity, it will not emerge until your cat is several months old, young kittens are not affected by the chemicals in the plant.
  • Cats may rub against and chew on catnip to bruise the leaves and stems, which then release more nepetalactone.
  • Catnip is safe for cats. If they eat a lot, they may vomit and have diarrhea, but will return to normal given time (and no more catnip).
  • It is also known to help humans, it has been used for its sedative properties in humans for centuries, having similar properties to chamomile and is a very potent mosquito repellent
  • If cats are exposed to catnip frequently, they may no longer respond to it. Some people recommend that it shouldn’t be given more than once every two or three weeks to prevent habituation.

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  18. “Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET”. www.sciencedaily.com.
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  21. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=NECA2