The Multiple Uses of Salvia
Salvia is the herb with a long history of use and has got its name from the Latin ‘salvere’ – to heal which carries the value of the plant. It has been known to ancient Greeks who used salvia to treat consumption, ulcers and snake bites.
The genus Salvia belongs to the mint family Lamiacae and is also known as sage; it includes a number of various species (from 700 to 900), represented by shrubs, annuals and herbaceous perennials. Although the name “salvia” is commonly attributed to Salvia officinalis, it can be used with reference to any genus member, depending on modifier.
One of the most popular species in the genus is Salvia divinorum which is endemic to a small area Oaxaca in Mexico. This sprawling perennial plant grows up to 2 meters high producing dark green tooth-edged leaves and blooms between October and June.
All the species of Salvia genus are characterized by angled stems, a wide range of flower colors (from blue and red to white to yellow), the nutlet fruits and poorly fertile seeds which do not provide a viable propagation.
When the plant does seed, it rarely results in the developing of the mature plant. Salvia is commonly propagated by sending out roots where it touches the ground. The plant grows well in a d semi-tropical climate with good humidity, and well-drained rich soil with a lot of space for roots. Salvia can be easily grown indoors and some species (like Salvia divinorum) are only cultivated in domestic conditions, not having a history of growing in wild.
After salvia has matured into a grown plant, its leaves and root are collected to be used for various culinary and medicinal herbal preparations.
Salvia leaves are used in infusion that acts like tonic and liver stimulant, tincture that brings relief to menstrual disorders, compresses for treat skin conditions and gargles for respiratory tract. The root of the plant is the source material for the decoction that treats period pain, heart disease and angina.
The major chemical constituents in salvia are salvinorin A and salvinorin B. The former produces psychoactive effects and contributes to the fact of the plant’s abuse for its hallucinogenic properties. At the same time this chemical produces neurological action and is a strong selective kappa opioid receptor agonist (it “binds” and triggers activity in a particular class of proteins in the body). Salvia is also rich in volatile oil, flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins.
The healing properties of salvia have been for centuries used in Chinese herbal medicine. Since it has been studied by various researches, the plant is widely used in treating of a wide range of health conditions. Sage tea, for example, relieves all types of sore throat due to its antiseptic and relaxing properties.
For these reasons salvia is often used as a component in various gargles. Also, dried salvia leaves are included in herbal smoking mixtures for treating asthma. In addition, digestion enhancing properties of the plant make it a potent tonic and stimulant for treating digestive disorders. Various symptoms of menopause are handled with sage too – containing natural estrogens, it reduces sweating and hot flashes helping the body to adapt to the hormonal changes.
Encouraging a better flow of blood, salvia is helpful in treating irregular and light menstruation. It is a general stimulant for a female reproductive system and is recommended by herbalists for treating female disorders such as delayed or scanty menses, ovulation pain, menstrual cramps and infertility. Antioxidant properties of the plant make it helpful in fighting aging processes and the damaging effects of free radicals.
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