Woman reviewing the brain benefits of sage on her tablet

Sage Gives You "Brain Power"

You may have seen sage at your grocery store next to essential oils and incense. Many of us use it to create a soothing home environment, cleansing our space from negative energy. And while this may seem like a modern trend, the fact is this green herb has been around for hundreds of years.

People have tapped into sage health benefits through culinary and health practices to boost memory and cognitive performance and protect brain cells from oxidative stress. And now, the wisdom of past cultures finds support in a large body of research. Several studies have shown that adding sage extract to your wellness routine—whether you brew tea or look for a sage-based supplement, sage extract can quickly and significantly boost brain power in healthy individuals. How exactly can an herb support cognitive performance? Here's the scoop.

What is sage?

Sage is native to Southeastern Europe. Its name is derived from the Latin salvus or "to save" which explains its long-documented use as a brain-enhancing, health-promoting tonic. Growing research shows that these Salvia plants contain an array of active compounds that positively affect cognitive health and activity.

Salvia officinalis, also known as common sage, is the species you'll find added to brain supplements; it's the most widely studied out of the hundreds of species that have been identified.

Is sage good for the brain?

Your brain is an intricate network of brain cells that communicate with one another by releasing different neurotransmitters that relay messages between neurons and other brain cells, as well as other cells in your body as you interact with the world around you. Maintaining healthy cognitive performance is key to forming and recalling memories and information.

But, since the aging process spares no one, age-related cognitive decline naturally occurs as our brains shrink in volume; over time, we lose connections between neurons and have fewer neurotransmitters available for efficient communication. The result? You notice your memory, attention and focus aren't as sharp as they once were.

Sage extract has been shown to have remarkable cognitive-enhancing properties in several studies. How does sage support cognition? It turns out that supplementing with sage extract has a massive impact on multiple pathways that support brain health and performance.

Is every sage extract created equal?

No. As with any product you purchase, you want to ensure you're consuming high-quality nutrients that are tested for efficiency and purity. The sage extract in Life Extension's Cognitex® Elite is sourced from SIBELIUS Natural Products, which ensures every batch of sage has the same level of activity and efficacy.

Three ways sage supports brain health and performance

  • Healthy communication between brain cells

    —Sage has been shown to support neurotransmitter balance, encouraging healthy communication between brain cells and overall brain activity.
  • Potent antioxidant properties

    —Active compounds like rosmarinic acid found in Salvia officinalis have been shown to offer powerful antioxidant protection, promoting healthy blood flow, which in turn supports overall cognitive health.
  • Promotes a healthy inflammatory response

    —Sage contains bioactive compounds that have been shown to support a healthy inflammatory response, promoting brain (and whole-body) health.

Does sage support memory?

What's even more impressive about sage's brain benefits is the rapid effect it has in promoting memory and attention. That's because certain active compounds of sage may cross the blood-brain barrier, resulting in healthy cognitive performance by increasing levels of chemical messengers associated with learning and memory, focus and attention, happiness and rewards.

For example, sage extract helps modulate the activity of an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Why do you want more acetylcholine available to your brain? This chemical is used to communicate with certain regions of the brain and the rest of the body. It also plays a crucial role in modulating the hippocampus, the area in the brain associated with learning and recalling information. And sage helps modulate dopamine and serotonin, positively affecting overall mood, thinking, planning and focus.

What are the active compounds in sage?

Sage contains polyphenols, which are biologically active compounds that are associated with many health benefits, including promoting a healthy inflammatory response and heart health. Plus, sage polyphenols have been associated with short-term and long-term health benefits.

Here are four of the most common polyphenols found in Salvia officinalis:

  • Rosmarinic acid

    —Supports a healthy inflammatory response and has cognitive-enhancing benefits. It's considered the primary "active" component that's been most studied.
  • Carnosol

    —Has powerful antioxidant properties and brain protective benefits.
  • Carnosic acid

    —Also has antioxidant properties and supports a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Ursolic acid

    —Also shown to support a healthy inflammatory response, this polyphenol supports not just brain health but whole-body health, too.

Sage extract vs sage tea?

Adding sage tea to your evenings can give you access to its wonderful health benefits, but who has time to brew a nice cup… or six of tea? Here's where having a sage-based nutritional plan can still offer the same brain-enhancing benefits. Either way, whether you add tea or sage extract to your routine, the nootropic and health benefits that come with this green herb make it a smart choice for brain health.

More facts about sage

We asked Life Extension's Education Specialist, Dr. Crystal M. Gossard, DCN, to give us more details on this brain-friendly nutrient.

  • Q.

    Is supplementing with sage safe?

  • A. Supplementing with sage is safe. Sage has been around human cultures for centuries. Old European herbalists recognized sage's memory-boosting effects and whole-body health benefits. There's a long-documented usage of sage. But, as with anything you choose to put in your body, it's always important to follow directions closely.
  • Q.

    What are the side effects of sage?

  • A. Sage is well tolerated in studies. Of course, your body will be the ultimate tester. Everyone has a unique physiology, which is why being in tune with your body is useful. Pay attention to how you feel when you supplement with sage…or any other nutrient! Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice you're not feeling like your normal self.
  • Q.

    Should dosing differ when using sage for short vs. long-term benefits?

  • A. Recent studies have found specific doses of sage provide a similar degree of benefits in short- vs. long-term cognitive performance, but more research will be needed to confirm long-term benefits. As a rule of thumb, always stick to the dosing used in clinical studies.
  • Q.

    Will taking more than recommended give me an extra brain-boost?

  • A. If you have an important event, where you want to ensure that your brain is as sharp as it could be, it may be tempting to think that taking more than what's recommended would help. But having more of a good thing may not always produce greater results! It's best to stick to the dosing that's been found to be beneficial in research because they have been shown to produce optimal results.

Learn more about this brain food's benefits by checking out the Live Foreverish podcast where Dr. Smith interviews SIBELIUS Natural Product's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Kieron Edwards.

References

By: Jessica Monge, Health & Wellness Writer

Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension as a Copywriter.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD