Sage advice for a sore throat

Wild sage in bloom

If you’re looking for some sage advice for a sore throat, try gargling with sage. Sage is one of the oldest remedies for sore throats and coughs. With its astringent, antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, sage can soothe an inflamed throat and reduce infection.

The next time you have a sore throat, here’s a simple home remedy. Add two teaspoons of dried sage leaves in a cup of boiled water. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Then strain and add a pinch of sea salt and gargle with the tincture. You can dry the leaves by letting them sit overnight or you can buy dried sage leaves at the supermarket.

Alternatively, if you often get sore throats, Frank Ferragine (a.k.a. Frankie Flowers) and Bryce Wylde — authors of the book Power Plants — recommend spraying the back of your throat with sage and vodka at the first sign of a cold. To prepare the tincture, here’s the procedure by Ferragine and Wylde:

“Wash and pat dry a handful of sage leaves and lay them out to dry overnight. The next day, roughly chop the leaves and place them in a resealable clean glass jar (like a Mason jar). Pour vodka (at least 80 proof) into the jar until it covers the sage. Place wax paper over the jar and then screw the lid on tightly to seal it. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar vigorously once daily to mix the ingredients.

After 2 weeks, cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and strain the liquid into a clean glass container (discard solids). Use a funnel to transfer the tincture into small sterile bottles equipped with a spray pump. At the first sign of a sore throat, spray 3 to 4 pumps into the back of your throat. The tincture will keep for up to 3 years stored in a cool, dry place.”

Gargling or spraying your throat with sage is a safe and gentle way to ease a sore throat. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use sage or drink sage tea. Sage contains the active ingredient thujone which can stimulate the uterus in pregnant women as well as dry up breast milk. For information on staying healthy and, as much as possible, drug-free during the flu and cold season, take a look at these health tips.

Many thanks to my mother-in-law, Phyllis Zimmer, for the book Power Plants. It’s a terrific gift! I often refer to the book for health information, plant-based remedies and recipes, gardening and storage tips or to understand the compounds in plants. The authors are Canadian plant experts, but in different fields. Frank is an award-winning horticulturist and Bryce is a leading expert in functional and botanical medicine and nutrition. In the book, they show you how a simple trip into your garden can supercharge your health.

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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