Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Clary Sage by Sally Cronin

Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

Last time  I looked at the popular Chamomile essential oil and teas and its many health benefits. This week Clary Sage.. one that does come with some restrictions on use.

Clary Sage from France and Russia uses the whole plant.

  • Scent: Herbaceous, earthy
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: Avoid with alcohol and in pregnancy (may result in early contractions, but is used for this purpose at time of delivery)

Sage as a herb.

The use of Sage goes back to the Romans and comes from the Latin ‘Salva’ for good health. You didn’t just wander into the countryside and pick the herb as it had to be carried out as part of a religious rite. The herb was used to encourage fertility, although I would imagine the juice was pretty bitter. It came into popular usage in the Middle Ages and was used as a primary preventative and cure for most known diseases of the time. Particular in relation to women and their cycle and it was also used during childbirth to encourage contractions. Sage contains a component sclareol which mimics the actions of eostrogen in the body. If you were deficient in eostrogen then this would encourage the hormone to increase.. however if you have sufficient of the hormone it would not increase it further.

Sage was also used to treat stomach upsets, sore throats and it is believed that it helps ease the discomfort of insect bites.

Generally the herb is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent and to take internally you would use a teaspoon of dried leaves and steep in boiling water for 30 minutes. You would drink a cup a day but sipping slowly over a half an hour or so.

Clary Sage as an essential oil.

The latin name of this variety of sage is (Salvia sclarea) and is also known as ‘eye bright’ as it has traditionally used for eye health.

It is often inhaled to reduce stress and may reduce high blood pressure and improve mild depression.

It has been used to reduce spasms and convulsions. This includes wind build up in the intestines by using diluted oil as a massage oil for the lower abdomen.

When diluted Clary Sage can be used topically on bacterial skin conditions and also may help wound healing.

Because of the sclareol content of clary sage, and the fact that it mimics eostrogen, it has been used to treat menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes by rubbing in diluted oil into the soles of the feet. It has also been used to reduce menstrual cramping when diluted and rubbed into the lower abdomen twice a day.

How to use Clary Sage.

You can inhale Clary Sage directly from the bottle but I suggest holding it a few inches from your nose when you do so until you are used to the scent. Useful in stressful situations and it is easy to keep a small bottle to hand.

You can also add the oil to potpourri or a few drops into a spray bottle of water to use as a room freshener.

Never apply the oil directly to your skin without diluting first into your preferred carrier oil, and if you missed part two of the series, I have put a reminder about some of the more popular carrier oils at the bottom of the post.

Add 3 to 4 drops to an ounce (30mls) of the carrier oil.  I do highly recommend that you do a patch test first on the inside of your wrist and leave for a few hours before applying.

You can add a few drops to your bath water for a relaxing soak and I have used in conjunction with sensitive bath products (baby range) as an all over wash.

A word of warning

If you are visiting a qualified massage therapist you can talk about your personal requirements at the time of your first consultation, and it is very important that you provide all the relevant information to them about where you are in your cycle, if you might be pregnant or if you are going through the menopause.

If you are planning on using Clary Sage for massage at home take those same issues into consideration.

Also because of its relaxing and light sedative effects you should not take with alcohol as it enhances the effects.

Hormone Disruption

Obviously, this is not quite the same issue for men… However, there is some concern that some essential oils, that do mimic the effects of oestrogen, can result in hormonal changes in males under certain circumstances.

Recently there was a study into two other herbs that are in common usage; Lavender and Tea Tree oil which contain natural oestrogen rather than Slareol which mimics the hormone. The implication was that the condition, now on the increase, which results in males developing more breast tissue, is related to their use of Tea Tree and Lavender regularly in toiletries.

However, I tend to question these studies that do not offer us the complete dietary, lifestyle and medication background to the participants. An increase in breast tissue in males can be down to a number of other causes, such as an imbalance at puberty as the hormones fluctuate, and is usually resolved within a couple of years.

Also it can result in older males due to cancer treatments, antibiotics, certain heart medications, anti-depressants and taking recreational drugs including marijuana or performance enhancing supplements such as steroids.

Diet and lifestyle can also result in males putting on fat tissue around the breast area, especially if their diet is very high in certain meat or poultry treated with hormones to increase growth . There are other foods that can also result in this abnormal breast tissue growth in men and also health issues in women such as Soy…You might be interested in reading this article. Estrogen Dominance: How Food Affects Men and Women By Ginger Shelby

I also wrote recently about the hormone mimic in plastic and inside food cans that will be impacting those born in the last thirty years. Hormone Mimic in plastic

However, this brings me back to the use of any natural therapeutic product… you need to treat with respect and with essential oils, a little goes a long way. Two to four drops in the correct ratio to a carrier oil provides a safe balance.

Whilst Clary Sage is not indicated as resulting in hormonal changes in men, I would advice caution if you are male and are undergoing treatments for cancer or taking medications that might result in hormonal changes without consulting your doctor and a qualified aromatherapist.

Blending Clary Sage with other essential oils particularly with any of the citrus family.

Lemongrass is made from grass from Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

  • Scent: lemony
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, bath,
  • Note:  Top
  • Mood: Stimulating and Refreshing
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin.

And also other oils which share calming, harmonising or reassuring moods.

Frankincense from Somalia and Oman is extracted from the resin.

  • Scent: Incense, warm
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Middle, Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Geranium from Egypt, Madagascar, China is made from the whole plant.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Harmonising
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Jasmine from Egypt, India and France and uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Reassuring
  • Safety: 24hour test on sensitive skin.

A reminder about the right carrier oils to use with individual essential oils.

Essential oils are known as volatile because they smell of the plant they were extracted from and evaporate quickly according to the ‘note’ of the oil. For example if an essential oil has a ‘top’ note such as a citrus oil, it will evaporate within a couple of hours of being applied to the skin. Whereas, an oil with a ‘base’ note is warmer and lasts longer, sometimes for several hours or days. Although called an oil, it does not feel oily and it is not easy to apply. The essential oil also requires diluting in varying degrees dependent on how you are going to use. As skincare, for massage or therapeutic. It therefore needs to be blended with an oil that can be applied smoothly.

A carrier oil is made from plants but is scentless which makes them a perfect partner for the pungent essential oils. Because these natural plant oils have not got the extended shelf life of the essential oils, you would blend and keep on the shelf for a much shorter period or less than six months.

Here are some of the more common oils used in aromatherapy and you should experiment to find the one that suits you best dependent on your own skin type.

For example I have a fairly dry skin so like to use either Jojoba oil or prepared Coconut oil which has been liquified. They are also lighter in aroma and I feel maintain the aroma of the essential oil better. I have also used Sweet Almond Oil but if you have a nut allergy you should avoid.  I am now experimenting with Avocado Oil and I am pleasantly surprised how well it is absorbed.

Other oils that you can use are also solid and room temperature and are more difficult to work with such as Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter although when melted they can add a smooth feel for massage purposes. It tend to not use Olive Oil as I find the smell stronger than I like.

There are several other carrier oils available and I suggest you do some research based on your skin type and price and availability. There are some health food shops who stock them but you can also find some of the plant based oils in the supermarket.

Next time I will be looking at Eucalyptus esssential oil in more detail.

I hope that you have found of interest and always delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020