Clary sage (Salvea Sclarea L.) is the most commonly utilized sage species in aromatherapy and it’s considered a must-have for women. Essential oil is steam distilled from flowering tops of Salvea Sclarea L. plant of Lamiaceae family.
Salvia sclarea L. is indicated for menstrual and other cramps and spasms due to its antispasmodic activity. Clary sage is also known for its euphoric effect. It can be used as an emotional balancer, antidepressant, or mood enhancer along with citrus oils like Bergamot and Wild Orange. Salvia sclarea is one of the best in treating rectal fissures and hemorrhoids, particularly when used in conjunction with Roman chamomile and Cypress.
Clary Sage is anti-convulsive largely due to its constituents’ ability to modulate the GABAergic system of neurotransmission and their capacity to alter ionic currents through ion channels. Clary sage is likely to have positive effects on epilepsy by acting on various nervous system targets. Because of their lipophilic nature, essential oil compounds can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. This property, combined with the aforementioned pharmacology of their constituents, makes essential oils excellent candidates for investigation into their potential as anti-epileptic drugs.
Salvia sclarea is colorless to pale yellow color, rich in linalool (up to 20%), and contains up to 76% esters, specifically linalyl acetate. These components contribute to the antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, calming to the nerves, reducing anxiety, and antidepressant activity of Salvia sclarea essential oil.
Clary sage is indicated specifically for:
- Spasms and cramps, including menstrual cramps
- Stress-related health conditions
- Acute stress
- Low libido
- Hormonal imbalance (with Geranium or Fennel)
- Hemorrhoids, varicose veins
- Rectal fissure (antispasmodic; use with Cupressus sempervirens (Cypress_ and (Roman Chamomile) Chamaemelum nobile))
- Asthma attacks (reduces spasms in the bronchial tubes)
- Excessive sebum production
A 2014 study published in Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that the inhalation of Clary Sage essential oil increased 5-HT plasma concentration significantly while plasma cortisol levels significantly decreased.
Another study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research in 2012 found that abdominal self-massage with essential oils provided relief for outpatients with postpartum depression and reduced the duration of menstrual pain. The experimental group received essential oils of lavender, clary and marjoram in 2:1:1 ratio diluted in an scented jojoba cream, massaged into abdomen, while the control group was given a synthetic fragrance diluted in jojoba cream.
Authors attempt to confirm factors of the effects of massage, writing:
“Massage can reduce stress hormone levels by excreting endorphins in the plasma, promoting parasympathetic activation, and increase secretion of the neurotransmitter serotonin to block the conduction of pain. Aromatherapy has a positive influence on the autonomic nervous system, releasing anxiety, and controlling pain, an outcome they attribute not just to the scent of the essential oils, but to transdermal absorption of their chemical constituents. The mechanism of action likely involves inhibition of prostaglandin secretion by linalool, which results in decreased myometrial contractility. Eucalyptol (1,8-cineole), a terpene oxide found in marjoram oil, inhibits the metabolism of arachidonic acid, a precursor to PGs found to have inflammatory effects on human blood monocytes. β-caryophyllene, a terpene, also exerts local anesthetic activity.”
Clary Sage exhibits antidepressant activity in rats.
Sclareol, a component found in Clary Sage essential oil, demonstrates anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
Is Clary Sage Estrogenic?
According to Franchomme & Penoel (1990), Clary Sage essential oils is estrogen-like, due to its content of sclareol, which is said to be structurally similar to human estrogens.
Estradiol and butylparaben contain a phenol functional group: a hydroxyl group attached to a benzene ring. The phenolic structure and the presence of a second ring is important for estrogenicity. However, sclareol does not contain a phenolic structure and it does not even contain a benzene ring. Sclareol is a labdane diterpene, and this class of molecule does not incorporate estrogen-like structures and it is not noted for estrogenic activity . In conclusion, on the basis of its structure, sclareol is unlikely to have any estrogenic action. According to some studies, Clary Sage even has anticancer activity, including breast cancer.
From personal experiences it’s important to highlight the fact that Clary Sage is an incredible essential oil that is very helpful with certain types of headaches. Please refer to our blog on Headaches and Migraines to learn more.
Clary Sage has GRAS status meaning it’s considered safe by FDA for ingestion. Topical and aromatic applications are also popular uses of Clary Sage essential oil. Please always dilute Clary essential oil before topical application.
Buy high-quality Clary sage essential oil now.
Written by Lena Isayev, B.A., C.A.
1. Schmidt D. Drug treatment of epilepsy: Options and limitations. Epilepsy & Behavior. 2009;15(1):56–65. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2009.02.030.
2. Ekstein D., Schachter S. C. Natural products in epilepsy-the present situation and perspectives for the future. Pharmaceuticals. 2010;3(5):1426–1445. doi: 10.3390/ph3051426.