Don’t sweat it – try sage for hot flushes

No one feels their best with sweat trickling down their back and their face aglow with a fiery flush

Apart from the physical discomfort, the emotional unease triggered by uncontrolled flushing is undermining to say the least.

It was bad enough being at the mercy of random blushing in one’s teens. But the ‘grown-up’ version of fierce flushes, accompanied as they often are by heat and sweat, could almost make you wish the summer would be unseasonably chilly.

How sage can help

A new clinical trial offers some novel encouragement for facing up to hotter weather. The herb sage, which has been used traditionally by herbalists to balance temperature control and reduce excessive sweating, has been shown to have additional benefits.

Not only does it produce marked and rapid improvement in the number and intensity of hot flushes and sweats experienced by menopausal women, but it also calms jangled nerves. I’ll have a bottle in each hand, please…

The trial was double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled, and took place over 8 weeks. After the first 4 weeks, flushes had reduced by 59.1% in the Sage group, compared to 26.9% in the placebo group.

Now, if you reduce the amount of ferocious flushing a woman is undergoing, it’s to be expected that she will feel generally better and probably get more sleep. That was the outcome in this trial, with women experiencing improvements in heart discomfort, sleep problems, fatigue, and joint and muscular discomfort, as well as the flushes.

Brain waves

There were, however, also improvements in mood, irritability and anxiety; and for this there was an explanation forthcoming from the additional tests carried out in this trial, as study subjects were also given a complete electronic encephalogram (EEG) at the start and end of the trial, to explore any changes in cerebral neuronal activity.

The EEG was obtained by an electrode cap measuring activity at 16 different electrodes on the scalp. At each EEG, subjects undertook a range of cognitive tests such as reading, concentration and memory tests.

Analysis of the EEG results showed normalised the excitability of various brain waves under stressful situations, smoothing out the frazzled nervous activity that can make us feel so jumpy and on edge.

Overall, women treated with Sage were in a more focused and relaxed state of mind, suffering less from anxiety and mental exhaustion.

The extract used in this trial was made from freshly-harvested sage, which may have contributed towards its effects, as fresh herb contains more of its volatile constituents.

Your questions answered

A.Vogel nutritional therapist Ali Cullen – aka Good Health’s Ask Ali – answers some commonly-asked questions about sage…

Is sage oestrogenic?

No. Its thermoregulating and nerve-calming effects are not associated with any oestrogenic activity.

So, can sage be taken by women who can’t take oestrogenic mediation or oestrogenic remedies?

Yes. Its lack of oestrogenic activity makes it suitable for those unable to take HRT or oestrogenic herbs.

Can sage be taken long-term?

Yes. It’s suitable for both short and long-term use. It usually works fairly fast, but often continues to improve the number and intensity of flushes, the longer it’s taken.  

Can sage be taken alongside HRT?

Yes, it’s not contraindicated with HRT. It’s also suitable for women on thyroid medication.

Find sage supplements here

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