sage helps memory in healthy people and people with Alzheimer's

The clue is all in the name. “Sage” means to be of profound wisdom. The people of long ago who named it must have known something because modern science is proving that sage does make you wise.

As the name suggests, sage has a long history of being associated with memory. That history is being proven by science.

The latest proof comes from a double-blind study of an extract containing two kinds of sage: Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulaefolia. 94 people were given either 600mg of the sage extract or a placebo for 29 days. There was a significant improvement in working memory accuracy task outcome measures. There was both an immediate benefit when taking the herbs and a long term benefit.

The exciting thing is that this study is no fluke. Several studies are now pointing to sage as a memory herb. We now know that sage prevents the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (Neuropsychopharmacology 2006;31(4):845-52).  Acetylcholine is essential for processing memory and learning. It is decreased in people with Alzheimer’s. The drugs that are used for Alzheimer’s are used because they inhibit acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.

A 2008 study found that when healthy older adults take a single dose of sage extract, their memory and attention improve significantly (Psyschopharmacology 2008;198(1):127-39).

How would sage do in a tougher test? What if the people weren’t healthy but had Alzheimer’s disease? When people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were given sage extract for 4 months, their Alzheimer’s scores improved significantly: they worsened by 22% in the placebo group while improving by 26% in the sage group (J Clin Pharm Ther 2003;28:53-59).

The evidence is adding up that sage lives up to its name.

Nutrients 2021 Jan 14;13(1):218

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For much more on preventing and treating Alzheimer’s, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For comprehensive help with memory and cognition, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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