Clary Sage Essential Oil

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Clary Sage Essential Oil
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Clary Sage Essential Oil – General Description

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is an herbaceous perennial plant native to the northern Mediterranean region and some areas in North Africa and Central Asia. [1] It belongs to the genus Salvia, a genus comprising garden-worthy species long celebrated for their medicinal and culinary qualities.

The Latin word “salvare” (“to heal”) from which Salvia is derived from [2] partially illustrates the centuriesold use of salvias, including clary sages, as medicinal plants with putative healing properties. To date, clary sages are cultivated by and large for their essential oils, and because of the steady demand worldwide for clary sage essential oil, genetic improvement programs and expansion of clary sage plantations to increase production are underway. [3]

Clary sage plants both produce and store their essential oils in specialized epidermal “oil glands,” namely, peltate and capitate glands. The former gland appears to contain sesquiterpenes, while the latter primarily produces linalool and linalyl acetate, which are monoterpenes, and sclareol, a diterpene. [4] The fresh inflorescences (cluster of flowers) of clary sage in full bloom are processed through steam distillation to acquire the essential oil, [3] which is pale golden yellow in appearance with a thin to medium consistency. Clary sage essential oil is prized for its earthy, fruity, and floral aroma that is not only nutty but also herbaceous in scent with musk and wine-like nuances. [5] Aside from its one-of-a-kind aroma, clary sage essential oil’s capability to blend well with other essential oils – especially bergamot, cedarwood, Roman and German chamomile, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, orange, rosewood, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang essential oils – makes it all the more impressive and delightful in aromatherapy. [6]

Clary Sage Essential Oil – Uses and Reported Benefits

Clary sage essential oil offers a host of pharmacological properties of medicinal value, and its use clearly has become popular in aromatherapy as a means to diminish depression and to provide euphoria and calmness. Clary sage essential oil can serve as a deodorant and as an agent that can remedy uterine issues. [5] Usually in combination with jojoba and cedarwood essential oils per expert’s opinion, a few drops of clary sage essential oil in a shampoo or conditioner or in a carrier oil prove to be effective in encouraging hair growth, in stimulating the scalp, and in managing greasy hair. [7]

Clary sage essential oil can also be of aid to individuals with asthma to relax and relieve the spasms associated with the said chronic respiratory condition. [5] Moreover, it has been claimed to be effective too for blood pressure, aches and pains, respiratory problems, and stress [8] and in managing stomach upset and other digestive disorders, kidney diseases, some tumors (when applied on skin), and seizure activity. [9]

Clary Sage Essential Oil – Contraindications and Safety

Clary sage essential oil is generally safe and non-toxic when provided or used in food amounts, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women. [9] Like most essential oils, dilution of pure clary sage essential oil is a must when it is intended to be applied on skin, and for safety’s sake, keeping the essential oil away from children or pet and checking with a professional medical practitioner prior to use for possible health issues are appropriate actions. [8]

Chloral hydrate and hexobarbitone are two drugs used particularly as sedatives or sleep inducers for insomniac or overly anxious patients, and clary sage moderately interacts with the two, compounding the drowsiness effect of these medications. People on chloral hydrate or hexobarbitone treatment should be cautious in using clary sage essential oil as the combination of the essential oil and either drug might cause too much sleepiness. [9]

Clary Sage Essential Oil – Scientific Studies And Research

The findings from a 2010 South Korean study supported the traditional use and therapeutic claims of clary sage essential oil as a natural antidepressive agent. In this study, the antidepressant effects of chamomile, rosemary, lavender, and clary sage essential oils were screened in rats. Results had shown that the treatment of clary sage essential oil via either intraperitoneal injection or inhalation produced the strongest anti-stressor effect in the forced swim test in rats. Since the said anti-stressor effect of clary sage essential oil waned out by the blockade resulting from the pretreatment with buspirone (a 5-HT1A agonist), SCH-23390 (a dopamine 1 (D1) receptor antagonist), and haloperidol (a D2, D3, and D4 receptor antagonist), the mechanism of antidepressant action of clary sage essential oil seems to be intimately associated with the regulation of the dopaminergic pathway. [10]

One of the most outstanding key findings on clary sage’s therapeutic value comes from an 8-year research initiative evaluating the use of midwifery aromatherapy service for mothers in labor within a health-care setting. This study involved 8058 mothers who had a low-risk, spontaneous labor and birth; who experienced induced labor; and who underwent vaginal operative delivery and caesarean section.

The essential oils studied, which totaled to 10, were offered via skin absorption and inhalation. The results from this study reveal that clary sage essential oil is effective in alleviating pain and that aromatherapy is a cheap and safe therapeutic alternative that overall helps in decreasing the use of systemic opioids. [11]

Some studies have also pointed out the antioxidant property of clary sage. Taarit, Msaada, Hosni, and Marzouk (2012) explored the antioxidant activity of clary sage rosette leaves under saline conditions and found that the antiradical capacity of clary sage was stimulated by applying 25 and 50 mM NaCl. [12] Aside from the leaves, the seeds of clary sage also possess promising antioxidant and antiradical properties. In one Turkish study, the antioxidant and antiradical activities of the clary sage seeds were determined in the range of 50.45-74.04 (mg AAE/g dry extract) and 13.14-21.21%, respectively. [13]

Clary Sage Essential Oil – Molecular Components and Chemistry

Schmiderer et al. (2008) noted that clary sage flowers are rich sources of linalool and linalyl acetate, whereas the leaves contain sesquiterpenes in considerably higher proportion than any plant part of clary sage. [4] Sclareol, a compound noted for its sweet, balsamic scent (hence its application as a fragrance in cosmetics and perfumes), can be extracted from inflorescences of clary sage. [3] Clary sage seeds on the one hand contain rich amounts of α-linolenic acid as well as fatty acids, [13] while clary sage leaf extract on the other hand had been determined to be rich in polyphenols. [12]


[1] Salvia sclarea. Wikipedia. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[2] Clebsch B. (2003). The new book of salvias: Sages for every garden. USA: Timber Press, Incorporated. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[3] Caissard J-C. et al. (2012). Extracellular localization of the diterpene sclareol in clary sage (Salvia sclarea L., Lamiaceae). PLoS One, 7(10): e48253. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[4] Schmiderer C., Grassi P., Novak J., Weber M., & Franz C. (2008). Diversity of essential oil glands of clary sage (Salvia sclarea L., Lamiaceae). Plant Biology (Stuttg), 10(4): 433-440. doi:
10.1111/j.1438-8677.2008.00053.x. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[5] Clary Sage 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil- 10 ml. Edens Garden. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[6] Clary Sage Essential Oil 10ml. The Aromatherapy Shop. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[7] Barbosa V. (2012). Wave bye-bye to damaged hair. WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[8] Clary Sage Essential Oil – 10ml – 100% Pure. Mystic Moments. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[9] Find a vitamin or supplement: Clary sage. WebMD, LCC. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[10] Seol G. H. et al. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 130(1): 187-190. doi:
10.1016/j.jep.2010.04.035. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[11] Burns E., Blamey C., Ersser S. J., Lloyd A. J., & Barnetson L. (2000). The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 6(1): 33-34. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[12] Taarit M. B., Msaada K., Hosni K., & Marzouk B. (2012). Fatty acids, phenolic changes and antioxidant activity of clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.) rosette leaves grown under saline conditions. Industrial Crops and Products, 38: 58-63. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

[13] Tulukcu E., Yalcin H., Ozturk I., & Sagdic O. (2012). Changes in the fatty acid compositions and bioactivities of clary sage seeds depending on harvest year. Industrial Crops and Products, 39: 69-73. Retrieved 16 May 2013 from

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