From May to September, the clary sage plant displays hardy whorls of pale blue, purple or pink blossoms atop long spikes. Heart-shaped green leaves with soft and fuzzy crinkled surfaces surround the flowers. This stout biennial or perennial is a member of the Lamiaceae family and attains a height of three to five feet.
Steam distillation of the flowering tops and leaves of Salvia sclarea yields a colorless or pale yellowish green oil. The aroma of clary sage oil is sweet, fresh and clean, with warm, herblike, nutty and balsamic undertones.
Native to southern France, Italy and Syria, clary sage is now cultivated worldwide, especially in Mediterranean climates, central Europe, England, Morocco, Russia and the United States. Superior oils come from England, France and Morocco.
Clary sage oil promotes the regeneration of skin cells, helping to ward off wrinkles and keep skin looking healthy and youthful. It helps oily skin and hair by controlling excessive oil secretions. It also improves acne and seborrhea. It is equally effective in treating dandruff, dry skin and dry hair. Used as a scalp massage, clary sage oil reputedly encourages hair growth and minimizes hair loss.
Clary sage oil balances the extremes of emotions and restores emotional equilibrium. It alleviates melancholy and lifts depression. As a nervous system tonic, it eases fear and nervousness. Clary sage oil helps both men and women become more aware of their feminine qualities. It can increase concentration and stimulate mental activity without being overstimulating. Clary sage oil inspires creativity and awakens intuitive powers. Many people report that they have very vivid dreams after using it. Clary sage oil makes an ideal companion in times of personal challenge or change, especially when there is external stress and extreme pressure. In situations of midlife crisis, clary sage oil can exert a balancing, inspiring and revitalizing influence. In stressful situations, clary sage oil reduces deep-seated tension, slows a racing mind and calms nerves. By restoring inner tranquility, clary sage oil minimizes the debilitating effects of stress and stress-related disorders. It reduces irritability, anxiety and feelings of panic as it revives frazzled nerves. Clary sage oil can even create a state of euphoria, and many people consider it an aphrodisiac. European physicians and psychotherapists have successfully treated cases of frigidity and impotence with clary sage oil.
Reprinted from Aromatherapy for Vibrant Health and Beauty by Roberta Wilson with permission of Avery Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Roberta Wilson.