The many uses of sage include flavoring in foods and inclusion in perfumes, soaps and cosmetics. Some insect repellents and moth deterrents contain sage, and it is a popular garden plant.
Sage is a Mediterranean native plant, first mentioned in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. Pliny the Elder wrote about the Romans' medicinal usage of the herb. Through the Middle Ages, sage was one of the ingredients used in Four Thieves Vinegar, a concoction believed to ward off bubonic plague. People used sage from ancient times through the Middle Ages to treat snakebite, ward off evil and increase fertility in women, among other medicinal uses. Ancients and people of the Middle Ages considered sage a valuable plant for its many purposes, and an old superstition said that business prospered if sage did and withered along with the plant.
Cosmetic uses include fresh sage as a tooth cleanser, to heal the skin, darken hair and as a scalp treatment.
Germany, Spain and Dalmatia distill oil from sage to use as flavoring. The Chinese at one time preferred sage tea to Chinese tea and traded for sage with the Dutch. Holland uses sage to make wines. At one time, it was common in one French district to strew sage on graves to lessen grief.