Clary sage is a specific member of the salvia family that has been used in traditional healing for centuries. It is often included in botanical body products, such as bath oil and hair care compounds, and it is also available in the form of a pure essential oil. Its odor is very distinct, and the herb is said to have soothing properties that can be beneficial to health. Pregnant women, however, should avoid exposure to clary sage, since it may be harmful or induce contractions.
Salvia sclarea is the plant's scientific name. The name was derived from claurus, the Latin word for “clear,” since clary sage was used in eyewashes and to clear up infections. The leaves and flowers can be used to make a mild tea, suitable for washing eyes or ingesting, and they can also be steam distilled into a clear to amber essential oil.
As is the case with most herbs, a medical professional should be consulted before ingesting clary sage. Sometimes, there are peculiar conflicts between herbs and medications that patients are unaware of. Patients should also make sure that they use herbs that are suitable for human consumption if they plan on ingesting it. The oil can be applied to the skin, although it must be diluted, and it can also be added to bathwater and cosmetics.
In nature, the clary sage plant can reach up to 3 feet (1 meter) in height, with long stems carrying clusters of white to purple flowers. The leaves can be triangular to roughly ovoid, and like many members of the mint family, it has square stems. Many people grow the plant as an ornamental, since it has a pleasing appearance, especially in the summer blooming months. However, the smell can be strong or unpleasant, so it should be planted with care.
When people take clary sage medicinally, they use it for female complaints such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and labor pains. It is also used to treat asthma, sore throat, coughing, stress, and gastrointestinal pain. Since it has narcotic effects, it may be used to treat exhaustion as well. Because clary sage is mildly narcotic, it should be used with caution, and it should not be combined with other narcotics. If any of the symptoms being treated persist for more than several days, professional medical attention should be received, to make sure that there is not a systemic problem.