Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea) is cultivated world-wide as a source of essential oils due to its various health benefits.1,2 The perennial herb belongs to the family Lamiaceae and is different from the common sage in both leaf-size and coloring.3
The leaves, buds, and flowering tops are used to produce clary sage essential oil through a process of steam distillation. Clary sage essential oil ranges from clear to a pale-yellow liquid and is widely known and used for its therapeutic properties.3,4
Historically, clary sage essential oil was used for aiding problems associated with the womb and uterus. It was known for the easing of menstrual periods and other muscle cramps.3 It was also noted for its ability to ease nervous tension. Modern studies are now confirming the antispasmodic, antioxidant, stress-relieving, and pain-relieving properties of clary sage essential oil, proving to be an important tool for any essential oil collection.
Clary Sage Essential Oil Uses
Clary sage essential oil is typically used for various forms of aromatherapy. Whether it’s added to a stress-relieving bath or used on its own as a natural sleep aid, below is a list of the most common applications for clary sage essential oil.
To enjoy the pleasant aroma of clary sage essential oil, add 3-5 drops of clary sage to a diffuser filled with water. Alternatively, add 1-2 drops of clary sage essential oil to your hands and inhale for a few moments. Users should wash their hands after this method.
In the bath
Add 3-5 drops each of clary sage and chamomile essential oil to warm bath water for a relaxing and stress-relieving bath.
Natural Sleep Aid
Use 4-5 drops of clary sage essential oil in a diffuser before bed, or apply a few drops to your pillow to improve sleep and aid in falling asleep. The scent of clary sage essential oil has been reported to produce calming and anti-anxiety effects.4
With natural anti-fungal properties, clary sage essential oil can be used as an everyday, household cleaner. Mix ½ cup of water and ½ cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Add 2-4 drops each of clary sage and tea tree essential oil and gently shake to mix. Spray on counters and household surfaces and then wipe down with a damp cloth.
Natural Hair Care
Add 2-4 drops of clary sage essential oil to shampoo or hair conditioner to improve the oil content of your hair and scalp. Or combine with a natural coconut oil for a scalp massage. Users have reported clary sage essential oil helps control oil production, rejuvenate hair follicles and may even prevent hair loss.
Clary sage essential oil can be used on your skin in conjunction with a carrier oil, such as almond oil, and can provide a rejuvenating effect. Its astringent properties, caused by the linalyl acetate, have been reported to help strengthen and tone skin.10
Mix 1-3 drops of clary sage essential oil into 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil or unscented moisturizer. Gently apply to the face and neck daily, being careful to avoid the eyes, mouth, nose and ears. For a natural acne remedy, apply the mixture to a clean cotton ball and use as a spot treatment on acne prone areas.
You can create a massage oil by diluting 5 drops of clary sage essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut oil). Gently rub the mixture into the affected area.
For a natural perfume, mix 3-5 drops of clary sage essential oil with 1 Tsp. of carrier oil and apply to pulse points, such as inner wrists and lower neck.
Benefits of Clary Sage Essential Oil
Historically thought to have therapeutic properties, clary sage essential oil has been the focus of recent scientific studies. Below, we’ve compiled the latest research on the properties of clary sage essential oil, and how this oil can benefit a diverse range of users.
Easing Menstrual Discomfort
For women suffering from menstrual pain, essential oils may provide some relief. In a 2012 clinical study, 32 female participants were given an aromatherapy massage to help reduce menstrual pain. The aromatherapy massage used a blend of clary sage, marjoram, cinnamon, ginger and geranium in a base of almond oil, which was applied on to the abdomen.
Levels of pain were measured prior to the massage and 24 hours afterwards. It was noted that the females who received the essential oil massage experienced a significant reduction in menstrual pain, compared to the control group.11
In a 2006 study, six essential oils were tested for their antimicrobial activity. In concentrations higher than 1%, clary sage essential oil demonstrated antimicrobial activity against the fungus strains P. chrysogenum, P. pinophilum and T. viride, and inhibited growth by 50%, 40.9% and 40.7%, respectively.
These fungus strains are commonly found on food products, and can be responsible for food-spoiling. By preventing the growth of these bacteria strains, clary sage essential oil may one day be a natural alternative to preventing food spoilage.6
In a double-blind, placebo controlled study, clary sage and lavender essential oil were tested for their effects on anxiety. 45 patients who were undergoing urodynamic (incontinence) testing were given a cotton pad with several drops of either lavender, clary sage or almond oil as a control.4
After 60 minutes of inhalation, systolic blood pressure rates decreased by 4.7%, and diastolic blood pressure was reduced by 5.1% in the clary sage group. This produced a significant reduction in multiples stress parameters. Researchers noted that linalyl acetate, a main component in clary sage essential oil is believed to work as an anti-inflammatory on the smooth muscles.4,12 Clary sage essential oil may also influence dopamine levels, but further research is required.4
In a study published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research, the inhalation of clary sage essential oil was observed to have an anti-depressant-like effect. 22 volunteer subjects were classified into normal and depression-tendency groups and were instructed to inhale clary sage essential oil for 5 minutes.7
While there a number of factors that contribute to depression, an imbalance of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), corticosterone and 5-hydroxytyramine (a neuroendocrine known as 5-HT) are commonly noted.7
Most notably, levels of 5-HT rose significantly by approximately 341% in the normal group and 484% in the depression-tendency group. Data also suggested that cortisol levels decreased in both groups, while serotonin levels increased. Known as the stress hormone, when cortisol levels are elevated it can interfere with learning, memory, and lower overall immune function.9 In contrast, serotonin levels are commonly thought to be a contributor to feelings of happiness and a general sense of well-being.7
Note: Essential oils still require further research before they could be considered a safe and alternative method of treatment. Essential oils should not be substituted for conventional depression treatments.
Promotes Wound Healing
Clary sage essential oil may be applied to treat wounds and skin infections. A 2015 study found that clary sage essential oil significantly inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus bacteria isolated from infected wounds. Due to the rise of antibiotic-resistance bacteria, researchers are increasingly focusing on alternative methods of eliminating harmful bacteria.10
Clary Sage Essential Oil Side Effects
Clary sage essential oil is generally regarded as safe for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Always read and follow the label. Always dilute clary sage essential oil prior to topical use.
Do not ingest clary sage essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional. Keep clary sage essential oil away from young children. Always consult a health care professional prior to use on pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Where to Buy Clary Sage Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Tartet, M.B., Msaada, K., Hosni K., Marzouk, B. (2011). Physiological changes and essential oil composition of clary sage (Salvia sclarea ) rosette leaves as affected by salinity. Acta Physiol Plant, 33(1), 153 – 162. DOI: 10.1007/s11738-010-0532-8.
- Lawrence, B. L. (1994). Production of clary sage oil and sclareol in North America. In: Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on medicinal and aromatic plants, 5(7) 41–58.
- Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601-611. doi:1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007
- Seol, G. H., Lee, Y. H., Kang, P., You, J. H., Park, M., & Min, S. S. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial for Salvia sclarea or Lavandula angustifolia: Differential Effects on Blood Pressure in Female Patients with Urinary Incontinence Undergoing Urodynamic Examination. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 19(7), 664-670. doi:1089/acm.2012.0148
- Sut, N, Kahyaoglu-Sut, H., (2017). Effect of aromatherapy massage on pain in primary dysmenorrhea: A meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 27, 5-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.01.001
- Angelini, P., Pagiotti, R., Menghini, A., & Vianello, B. (2006). Antimicrobial activities of various essential oils against foodborne pathogenic or spoilage moulds. Annals of Microbiology, 56(1), 65-69. doi:1007/bf03174972
- Lee, KB, Cho, E, and Kang, YS. (2014). Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and Cortisol Plasma Levels in Menopausal Women After Inhalation of Clary Sage Oil. Phytotherapy Research. 28 (11) 1599-1605. doi:1002/ptr.5268
- Ehrlich, S. D. (2011). Aromatherapy. Retrieved March 2, 2017 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/aromatherapy – View reference
- Kirshbaum, C., Wolf, OT., May, M., Wippich, W., Hellhammer, DH. (1996). Stress- and treatment-induced elevations of cortisol levels associated with impaired declarative memory in healthy adults. Life Sciences, 58(17), 1475-1483. https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3205(96)00118-X
- M. Sienkiewicz, A. Głowacka, K. Poznańska-Kurowska, A. Kaszuba, A. Urbaniak, E. Kowalczyk. (2015). The effect of clary sage oil on staphylococci responsible for wound infections. Postepy Dermatol Alergol, 32(1) 21–26. doi:10.5114/pdia.2014.40957
- Hur, MH, Lee, MS, Seong, KY, Lee MK. (2011). Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls: a preliminary controlled clinical study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Doi:1155/2012/187163
- Peana AT, D’Aquila PS, Panin F, Serra G, Pippie P, Moretti MD. (2002) Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils. Phytomedicine, 9(8) 721-6.DOI: 1078/094471102321621322
- Sugawara, Y., Hara, C., Tamura, K., Fujii, T., Nakamura, K., Masujima, T., Aoki, T. (1998) Sedative effect on humans of inhalation of essential oil of linalool: Sensory evaluation and physiological measurements using optically active linalools. Analytic Chimica Acta, 365(1-3), 293-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0003-2670(97)00639-9