Clary sage was mixed with ambergris, cinnamon, brandy and sugar into a popular European cordial for digestive problems and to improve the complexion. It still flavors muscatel wine and tobacco; the largest U.S. grower is the tobacco company R. J. Reynolds. Another sage is also called “clary,” but true clary oil comes from the thick-leafed herb, not this more delicate, tricolored leaf imitator.
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Extraction: Distilled from flowering tops and leaves. Similar to ambergris, the winelike scent is sweet and heady. Concrete, absolute.
Medicinal Action: Clary eases muscle and nervous tension, pain, menstrual cramps, PMS and menopause problems such as hot flashes. It also stimulates adrenals and is a European remedy for sore throat.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Use the oil for mature or acne complexions, inflammation and dandruff. It rejuvenates cells and is also said to encourage hair growth.
Emotional Attribute: Panic, paranoia, mental fatigue, general debility, postpartum depression and PMS are a few of the stress-related conditions clary sage is used to treat. Clary produces relaxation, dramatic dreams, euphoria, smiles-we pass it around classes to perk up the students! (It improves communication, once the giggling dies down.) Small amounts relax children. Herbalist William Turner said that clary sage “comforts the vital senses, helps the memory [and] quickens the senses.”
Considerations: Large amounts can actually stupefy a person. Combined with alcohol, clary can increase drunkenness and nightmares, and in lab studies, it potentiates hypnotic drugs. Because of its estrogenic action, those who suffer from breast cysts and uterine fibroids or other estrogen-related disorders should avoid long-term use.