It’s All Very Clary to Me

Bad play on words, I know. Count yourself lucky I didn’t sing, “I can see clarly now …”.

Clary Sage Salvia sclarea is quickly becoming one of my favorite plants. (Shh. Don’t tell the others.) I’ve got two beds of it started in the garden in the hopes that I’ll get enough leaves to make a bit of hydrosol. Much as I’d love it, I don’t have the room to grow enough to distill for essential oil.

Baby Clary Sage

First, the description: Clary Sage (yes, it’s a relative of common Sage) is a biennial plant. Like its cousin, it grows two to three feet high, with moderately-fuzzy leaves and spiky, white-to-light purple/blue flowers in the second year.  It produces enough seeds that if left alone, it will self-sow. Also like its cousin, the entire plant is very aromatic.

It got its Species name, sclarea, from the Romans. Sclarea means “clear” and it has been used for centuries as an eye wash for sore or tired eyes. The seed has a lot of mucilage in it, so according to both Culpeper and Gerard, a seed soaked for a couple of minutes in water and then placed in the eye, will attract and remove irritating foreign objects.

Besides an eye wash, an infusion of the leaves can be used for delayed or painful menstruation. It’s also becoming popular as a remedy for night sweats associated with menopause (it was once used to help night sweating in tuberculosis patients). The infusion can also be used to treat intestinal gas and indigestion. Like common Sage, Clary Sage is astringent and is a popular addition to products formulated for oily skin and hair.

The plant itself has sort of fallen out of favor but the essential oil is in high demand: it’s an ingredient in many perfumes, cosmetics, soaps & detergents; as well as in muscatel wines. (The Germans still call it Muskateller Salbei or Muscatel Sage.)

Most people describe the scent as sweet and slightly nutty. My nose says it’s sharp, like Sage, with a slight Lavender overtone.  I’m not a fan of Lavender itself (too sweet) but this hits the right combination with me – it’s awesome.

I’ve been using the essential oil in my facial lotion for awhile but my chiropractor introduced me to another use for it. After that, I had to find out more and started researching. What an opportune find! I can put it no better than Susun Weed so I’ll just quote her:

The essential oil lends strength, both psychological and physical. While it helps reduce deep-seated tension, it remains stimulating, regenerative, and revitalizing. This is the oil chosen for treating nervousness, weakness, fear, paranoia, and depression. Clary feeds the soul and helps us get through rough times. It is recommended when pressures and stress come from outside. The oil is very relaxing. Particularly recognized as useful for people involved in creative work. It lends us the courage to do things we haven’t done in a long time. Wonderful for people in mid-life crisis.

The other use I found for the essential oil is during scrying. While you should always dilute essential oils, one drop of the undiluted oil on my third eye/brow chakra seems to get faster results. I can see where this would be useful for lucid dreaming or studying a difficult subject, as well.

Caution Avoid during pregnancy. I’ve also read that use of Clary Sage while imbibing can enhance the effects of the alcohol. Hmmm. Not sure if this is such a bad thing. 😉

Try Clary Sage. You may find things a little clarer, too!