Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The genus Salvia is the largest in the mint family, with around a thousand species that are rich in unusual chemicals, and have been used in many different folk medicines. The genus name comes from a Latin root meaning “health.” Sage extracts have been found to be excellent antimicrobial and antioxidant materials. However, common garden sage, S. officinalis, is rich in two terpene derivatives, thujone and camphor, that are toxic to the nervous system, so its use as anything but an occasional flavoring is not a good idea.