Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an herb which has been valued for centuries for its fresh scent, the peppery depth of flavor it adds to foods and for its special constituents which help to keep skin healthy and beautiful. Sage grows as a small perennial shrub, usually no more than 24 inches tall;the oblong leaves have a slightly rough texture and hair-like growths. It is a member of the mint family and is related to rosemary. The plant is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region, but spread to northern Europe during Medieval times. It is now, of course, a treasured garden herb grown throughout the world. Salvia officinalis, usually called common sage or kitchen sage, should not be confused with Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia, which has a similar scent), sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate, native to the plains region of North America) or Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa).
Sage has been used as both an herb for food flavoring and as a source of healing ingredients for more than 2,000 years. The earliest records of its use show that the Egyptians prepared a tea-like beverage from its dried leaves to increase fertility. The Romans apparently introduced the plant into Europe, where it quickly found favor as both as a culinary ingredient and as a medicinal plant. The scientific name for the genus, Salvia, is taken from the Latin word meaning "healthy" and is the root of the modern English word "salve," reflecting the curative value associated with the plant. Throughout the Medieval period in Europe, sage was credited with the power to heal almost every ailment. It was even an ingredient, along with thyme, rosemary and lavender, in "vinegar of the four thieves," a concoction believed to provide protection against infection by bubonic plague. It was considered such a valuable herb that it was perhaps the only spice" that was traded to the Far East;during the 16th century