Mindfulness & Anxiety

Is Clary Sage Essential Oil the Best for Women’s Health?

By Justin Fowler-Lindner
Christopher Campbell

Research indicates that clary sage can be particularly effective at enhancing women’s health.

Some of the top health benefits of clary sage essential oil include:

  • Balance hormones
  • Relieve menstrual pains
  • Relieve pain during childbirth
  • Reduce stress
  • Treat depression
  • Kill bacteria
  • Fight infections

Many essential oil blends may alleviate depression, but studies show that clary sage can benefit women specifically by reducing depression caused by menopause.

Plenty of essential oils inhibit fungal growth, but clary sage targets the candida that causes vaginal yeast infections.

With that said, many of its properties, like reducing inflammation and fighting infection, can also benefit men. 

Let’s take a closer look at what makes clary sage so powerful.

What Is Clary Sage Essential Oil?

Clary sage essential oil is made from the clary sage plant (Saliva sclarea), one of several types of sage plants belonging to the Lamiaceae family.

Compared to other sage plants, clary sage contains a higher concentration of therapeutic compounds like linalyl acetate, linalool, geranyl, germacrene and alpha-terpineol.

History of Clary Sage Oil

Clary sage is native to the northern Mediterranean Basin in areas like Northern Africa and Central Asia.

Recordings of early medicinal use dates back to the writings of Theophrastus in the 4th century BCE.

Today, clary sage is used widely in perfumes for its potent aromatic qualities and is a common flavoring in wines, liqueurs, and vermouths.

Its name is derived from the Latin root “clarus,” meaning “clear.”

How Clary Sage Essential Oil Is Made

Clary sage oil is made from the flowering tops of the sage plants through steam or water distillation.

The final product is a pale yellow liquid with a vibrant herbaceous odor.

Most clary sage essential oil is manufactured in Russia, Morocco, and France, but there are also several large-scale productions in North Carolina.

5 Health Benefits of Clary Sage Essential Oil

From balancing hormones to reducing pain during child labor, clary sage essential oil has a lot to offer.

Here are the top five health benefits of clary sage essential oil:

1. Balance Hormones

Clary sage contains phytoestrogens that can regulate estrogen levels by interacting with receptors in the endocrine system. 

As a result, these compounds may support the long-term health of the uterus and balance hormones.

According to a small pilot study, inhaling clary sage oil may increase oxytocin, a hormone that is known to induce labor contractions and increase emotional bonding.

In the study, 12 full-term pregnant women (gestation 38-40 weeks) were treated with either clary sage aromatherapy or a placebo.

Clary sage increased oxytocin levels in two participants and both groups experienced a reduction in cortisol.

On a similer note, a 2014 study found that clary sage oil aromatherapy can reduce cortisol levels by 36 percent in postmenopausal women.

2. Relieve Pain During Menstruation and Childbirth

The effects that clary sage essential oil has on hormones may also reduce pain during menstrual cycles and childbirth.

Researchers think that clary sage’s anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects may be responsible.

For example, a 2012 study tested the effects of aromatherapy massage against the painkilling effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol).

32 menstruating high school girls were massaged using a mixture of clary sage, marjoram, cinnamon, ginger, and geranium essential oils, while the other 23 girls were treated with acetaminophen only.

The essential oil group experienced a greater reduction in pain over the following 24-hour period.

Research shows that clary sage oil may also reduce pain during child labor.

In a massive 8-year study conducted by Oxford Brooks University in the United Kingdom, 8,058 women were treated with various essential oil aromatherapies during child labor.

Of the 10 essential oils tested, clary sage oil and chamomile oil were the most effective at relieving pain.

A separate 2011 clinical trial found that clary sage oil massage can effectively decrease pain and anxiety during labor.

3. Reduce Stress 

Clary sage may promote feelings of relaxation while reducing stress and anxiety.

In a 2013 randomized, controlled trial published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that clary sage oil aromatherapy may promote relaxation in female patients undergoing an invasive physical assessment for urinary incontinence.

Researchers observed that clary sage oil significantly lowered blood pressure and slowed breathing.

On a similar note, a 2014 rodent study found that clary sage oil injections can reduce biological indicators of stress in rats.

The study’s authors concluded that, “Clary sage oil may be effective in the prevention and treatment of stress-induced cardiovascular diseases.”

4. Fight Depression

Several studies indicate that clary sage essential oil may exert antidepressant effects.

A 2010 study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that clary sage oil injections can affect dopamine activity in rats.

Out of the four essential oils tested, including chamomile, lavender, and rosemary, clary sage oil had the strongest anti-stressor effects.

According to the study’s authors, “Our findings indicate that clary oil could be developed as a therapeutic agent for patients with depression.”

A 2014 human study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research tested the effects of clary sage oil on menopausal women, some of whom had depression.

Researchers concluded that clary sage has antidepressant-like effects and may serve as an effective screening tool for depression.

5. Kill Bacteria and Fight Infections

Studies indicate that clary sage has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

For example, a 2017 in vivo study found that clary sage oil can trigger apoptotic cell death in candida, the pathogenic yeast that causes infections.

Researchers believe that the compounds linalool and linalyl acetate may be responsible.

Similarly, a 2015 study published in the journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology found that clary sage oil may be applied topically to treat wounds and skin infections.

Researchers observed that clary sage oil can effectively kill harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, S. xylosus and S. epidermidis.

Clary Sage Precautions and Side Effects

Clary sage essential oil should not be used during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the risk of uterine contractions, especially when applied topically to the abdomen.

You should also avoid mixing clary sage with alcohol, as some users report side effects like difficulty sleeping and vivid dreams.

Clary sage is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with your doctor for medical advice if you have a history of serious illness before beginning treatment.

With that said, clary sage essential oil is generally safe and well-suited for treating several ailments related to women’s (and men’s) health. You can easily utilize clary sage aromatherapy via an essential oil diffuser, or mix a few drops of clary sage with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil, to apply it to the skin. Alternatively, you can ingest clary oil by adding a couple drops into a smoothie or meal, but it is probably better suited to be used as a topical or aromatic scent.

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