What is Clary Sage Essential Oil?
Clary sage essential oil is a substance extracted through steam distillation of the flowering tops and leaves of Salvia sclarea plant.
The genus Salvia is the largest in the Lamiaceae family, with over 700 species and possibly as many as 900. Some of its representatives, e.g., Salvia sclarea L. (Clary Sage) and Salvia officinalis L.(Sage), are commercially important sources of essential oils.
Salvia sclarea essential oil (clary sage) is used in the perfumery industry, soft drink and liquor production. Besides, the oil has shown medicinal properties in aromatherapy for its anxiolytic effects as well as digestive activities.
On the other hand, sages are used for wound treatment, bathing, washing, skin and hair care, among many others.
The oil of clary sage has a light-medium consistency that can be colorless, brownish-yellow or pale yellow. Its aroma, classified as a top to middle note, can be described as sweet, herbal, earthy and tea-like scent.
About Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea L.)
Salvia sclarea L., also known as clary sage, belongs to the family Lamiaceae. It is a robust biennial or perennial herb up to one meter in height, has large and hairy green leaves with a touch of purple, and its small flowers can vary between blue, white or pink.
Clary sage is a plant native to southern Europe, occurring in the Mediterranean basin and Iran.
It is one of the most important aromatic herbs cultivated worldwide as a source of essential oils and many other compounds derived from different parts of the plant.
Clary sage has shown diverse biological activities manifested by different components (mainly in its essential oil), which allow it to be useful for several medicinal and pharmaceutical applications.
The essential oil contains two or three main, and some 20–60 minor components in diﬀerent concentrations, which makes it a very complex natural mixture. The two main monoterpenoid components of clary sage oils are linalool and linalyl acetate, add up to about 53.6 and 28.6 %, respectively, detected in more than 200 oil extracts of various medical plant species.
Chemical Components of Clary Sage Essential Oil
The chemical composition of the essential oil from clary sage was found to be almost exclusively determined by the geographical habitat ‘source’ of the plant growing (wild or cultivated), and few differences were observed from different plant parts (except for leaves) or different harvest and cultivation conditions. In addition, the various bioactivities of the oil were found to correlate with its composition, particularly the major components.
The main chemical components of clary sage essential oil include: linalyl acetate, linalool, α-terpineol, α-pinene, 1.8-cineole, limonene, geraniol, neryl acetate, germacrene, β-caryophyllene and β-terpineol.
However, clary sage has also bioactive compounds such as salvinolone, salvipisone, acetylsalvipisone, sclerapinone and sclareol.
In addition, the main constituent of Salvia species is salvianolic acid. Clary sage is one of the most common salvia species.
Properties of Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage essential oil has been evaluated for its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antidepressant, anticonvulsive, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, deodorant, digestive, emmenagogue, euphoric, hypotensive, nervine, sedative, stomachic, uterine, carminative, antimalarial, anxiolytic, anticholinesterase, antivirial, insecticidal and opioid receptor activities.
Recent studies reported analgesic, antidiabetic, cytotoxic and antimicrobial effects; virological evaluations; and genotoxic properties of the plant essential oil fractions, and their relation to the chemical composition of the oil.
The effects of the plant extracts on skeletal and smooth muscles; and the hematopoietic, immune and enzyme systems, have also been reported.
Uses of Clary Sage Essential Oil
In addition to its various medicinal uses, clary sage essential oils are widely applied in the food and cosmetic industries.
For example, it is extensively used in processed food of all types and to produce beer, tonic beverages, liquors, as well as Muscat and Vermouth type wines.
In tobacco industry, as for aroma of Oriental tobacco, one of the most important contributors to the amber/tobacco-like dry out note is undoubtedly clary sage.
Besides, it is a well-known oil and widely used in the manufacture of perfumes. Clary sage oil is greatly appreciated for both, odorous qualities and as an excellent fixer.
Also, novel investigations indicated that clary sage have great potential in agriculture because of phytoremediation, allelopathic and insecticidal properties.
However, traditionally, clary sage oil was used therapeutically as an agent against gingivitis, stomatitis and aphthae, and aerial parts of this plant, are still used as anti-diarrhea and tranquilizer drugs in Turkish folk medicine.
The most common therapeutic uses of clary sage essential oil include:
- In aromatherapy, it is a good relaxant for stress, tension and insomnia.
- Also, it is used as a natural aphrodisiac.
- It is a great sedative for the nervous system, particularly in cases of depression, anxiety and deep seated tension.
- Clary sage essential oil is a good tonic for the womb and female functions in general, such as painful periods, scanty menstruation and relaxation during labor, thus encouraging a less painful birth.
- During menopause, clary sage oil can help reduce hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, irritability, as well as headaches and dizziness.
- Relieves asthma symptoms.
- Clary sage oil inhalation may be useful in inducing relaxation in female urinary incontinence patients undergoing urodynamic assessments.
- Helps relieve muscle and joint pain, thanks to its analgesic effects.
- It is effective for digestive disorders and kidney diseases.
- Helps with skin conditions like acne, inflammations, boils and ulcers.
- Clary sage oil cools painful muscles.
Benefits of Clary Sage Essential Oil
It is said that clary sage essential oil to have anti-cancer effects in vitro. The isolated compound, 13-epi-sclareol, which is found in clary sage, showed antiproliferative activity in breast and uterine cancers in vitro, and was not toxic to normal cells.
According to Robert Tisserand, “This suggests the possibility that sclareol might actually inhibit estrogen, and might after all have some capacity to interact with estrogen receptor sites”.
Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Compounds
Several studies have shown that clary sage essential oil contains natural phenolic compounds, which play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment.
Phenolic compounds from medicinal herbs and dietary plants include: phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, stilbenes, curcuminoids, coumarins, lignans, quinones, among others.
Various bioactivities of phenolic compounds are responsible for their chemopreventive properties (e.g., antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, or antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory effects) and also contribute to their inducing apoptosis by arresting cell cycle, regulating carcinogen metabolism and ontogenesis expression, inhibiting DNA binding and cell adhesion, migration, proliferation or differentiation, and blocking signaling pathways.
Cytotoxic Activity against Leukemia
Clary sage oil exhibited cytotoxic activity against acute lymphoblastic leukemia and promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cell lines. Clary sage cell and hairy root extracts the presence of different class of diterpenes, as well as novel compounds, which showed anti-tumoral activity against the epidermoid carcinoma.
Clary sage essential oil demonstrated antifungal activity against clinical isolates of strains belongs to five different of genus Candida: C. albicans, C. tropicalis, C. krusei, C. glabrata and C. parapsilosis.
Food poisoning agents, spoilage fungi and plant, and animal pathogens were among the tested fungal species.
In other study, a concentration of 25 μl/ml of clary sage oil showed fungicidal activity against Aspergillus, Penicilium and Fusarium species, and Trichoderma viridae.
For the species Mucor mucedo and Aspergillus viridae the MFC was 15 μl/ml, for Candida albicans it was 10 μl/ml.
Fungistatic and fungicidal activities of the oil against Cladosporium cladosporoides and Trichophyton menthagrophytes were recorded at concentrations of 2.5 μl/ml and 5 μl/ml. The most sensitive micromycetes were Cladosporium fulvum, Alternaria alternata, Phomopsis helianthi and Phoma macdonaldii where a concentration of 2.5 μl/ml was lethal.
Among the bacteria tested (Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermis, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, C. albicans), E. coli strain was the most sensitive microorganism to clary sage essential oil.
However, the significant activity was also noted against S. aureus and S. epidermis strains (MIC values was 10.0 and 5.0 mg/mL, respectively).
Antimicrobial activities of both clary sage extracts (chloroform and acetone) were examined with 11 microbial species (Bacillus megaterium, Proteus vulgaris, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus brevis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium smegmatis) and 4 fungal species (Penicillum frequentans, Fusarium equiseti, Aspergillus candidus and Byssochlamys fulves).
Both clary sage extracts were effective in inhibiting the growth of the organisms except for Escherichia coli. The antifungal activity of each of the above extracts is lower than the antimicrobial activity.
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Clary sage oil showed a significant anti-inflammatory effect and moderate analgesic action after subcutaneous injection. The anti-inflammatory action was more conspicuous in the carrageenin-induced edema, where it produced the equivalent effect of a 5 mg/kg dose of indomethacin, than in the histamine-induced edema.
The effect was correlated to the presence of methyl chavicol, linalool, α-terpineol and linalyl acetate.
Final results showed that these constituents produce less anti- inflammatory action when administered separately than the oil in toto, and are also less effective than the oxygenated fractions obtained by Flash chromatography of the oil.
This indicates that the action of the oil is determined by synergistic action of its constituents.
The moderate peripheral analgesia (evaluated by writhing test) produced by clary sage oil appears to be mainly attributable to its alcoholic component.
Clary sage extract manifested anti-inflammatory effect in lipopolysaccharide induced periodontitis, suggesting that it may have a role as a therapeutic agent in periodontal diseases.
A study conducted in 2016 showed that clary sage essential oil and its two main constituents (linalyl acetate and linalool) causes plasma membrane perturbations, which leads to cell apoptosis process of the eukaryotic human pathogen yeast Candida albicans.
This anti-fungal action would be particularly helpful in vaginal thrush.
Anti-anxiety, Anti-depressant and anti-stressor Activities
Clary sage oil-treated submissive animals, showed a significant reduction in blood corticosterone levels. These findings enforce the hypothesis that clary sage oil possesses anxiolytic properties. Also, it had the strongest anti-stressor effect in the forced swim test.
On the other hand, clary sage essential oil has demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of depression, acting on the receptors of serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and GABA.
The research indicates that clary sage oil could be developed as a therapeutic agent for patients with depression, and that the antidepressant-like effect, is closely associated with modulation of the DAnergic pathway.
Other studies showed that clary sage oil treatment of rats subjected to immobilization stress, contributed to their recovery from endothelial dysfunction by increasing nitric oxide (NO) production and endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) levels, as well as by decreasing oxidative stress.
Appropriate concentration of clary sage oil may result in recovery from endothelial dysfunction.
These findings indicate that clary sage oil may be effective in the prevention and treatment of stress-induced cardiovascular diseases.
The acute and sub-chronic anti-diabetic activities of clary sage essential oil have been monitored along with high linalool (average 40.2%) and high linalyl acetate concentrations (average 50.4%), in order to find the most active chemotype.
In conclusion, clary sage essential oil have shown potential anti-diabetic activity, and it might be used in the future as a complementary or an alternative medicine in the management of diabetes and related complications.
Warnings and Precautions when using Clary Sage Essential Oil
Normally, clary sage essential oil is safe. However, it can be very relaxing and should be avoided when consuming alcohol, since it could increase its effects.
Although clary sage essential oil is a non-toxic and non-sensitizing substance, there is always the risk that some people are allergic to this species. Therefore, it is advisable to perform a patch test before applying topically.
As in the case of almost all essential oils, it must be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.
In large doses, clary sage oil can generate a headache.
Because there are not enough antecedents, it is convenient not to use the oil in case of pregnancy or breastfeeding, without the supervision of a specialist. Likewise, when applied to young children.
Where to buy Clary Sage Essential Oil?
Generally, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.
If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, we recommend:
Our 100% Pure Essential Oils are extracted from the root, bark, wood, seed, fruit, leaf, or flower of a freshly harvested plant.
We source only the finest quality essential oils from highly regarded suppliers and distillers from around the world, many with whom we’ve worked with for decades.
Many of our oils are steam-distilled or cold-pressed, therefore retaining the essential odor, aroma, taste, medicinal, and therapeutic properties of the plant, resulting in a superior quality, and highly concentrated essence. Shop here or by clicking on the image.
Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:
- Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
- Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
- Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.