All the ways to use clary sage oil

Believed to ease everything from stress to period pain and wounds, clary sage could make a handy addition to your health and wellbeing toolkit.

Salvia sclarea, more commonly known as clary sage, is a flowering herb native to the Mediterranean and parts of Europe and grown mainly for its essential oil or to be used in tea.

Clary sage has been well regarded for its therapeutic properties for centuries, and has been used to treat women’s hormonal issues, eye problems, and for stress relief.

A 2015 review of literature into the benefits of aromatherapy found clary sage found it could help regulate menstruation, ease tension and muscle cramps, as well as aphrodisiac activity.

Here are some ways clary sage may benefit your health and wellbeing:

Clary sage oil for menstruation, birth and menopause

“Clary sage is widely used for feminine issues,” says aromatherapist Natalie Miller.

“It can be used through many feminine cycles, including menstruation, birthing and menopause.”

And there is some science behind it, albeit limited.

One small study found including clary sage in an aromatic abdominal massage reduced menstrual pain more effectively than paracetamol. Another study on the effectiveness of aromatherapy during labor found clary sage to be effective in alleviating pain.

“It has been known for supporting the reduction of pain during the menstrual phase and it’s also useful during the birthing process at reducing pain,” says Natalie.

Health and wellness coach Louisa Carter uses clary sage during induction massages on pregnant clients to encourage the onset of labour.

She adds clary sage oil to a massage carrier oil and also burns it.

“The use of clary sage aims to calm the client and relieve any stress while utilising specific acupressure points and massage techniques to promote the onset of labour,” says Louisa.

Clary sage oil for relaxation and stress relief

When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, the earthy scent of clary sage oil can ground you, according to Louisa.

“It’s a powerful yet soothing, calming and relaxing oil which will help promote balance,” she says.

Natalie adds: “It is recommended for nervous and emotional tension, anxiety, emotional shock, panic and depression with anxiety or agitation.”

There is some evidence recognising the relaxation and antidepressant effects of clary sage.

A study of rats found clary sage had an antidepressant effect.

Yet another small study found inhalation of clary sage could reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve thyroid hormone levels in menopausal women.

Inhaling clary sage could also help settle nerves ahead of a medical assessment, according to a 2013 study.

Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory uses

A 2020 study found clary sage oil to have proven antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

And a 2015 investigation confirmed it was an active agent against staphylococci and useful in the treatment of wounds and skin infections.

How to use clary sage oil

There are a number of ways to enjoy the benefits of clary sage.

You can burn the oil and inhale the scent, or you can mix a few drops of it with some water and use it as a room spritzer.

Or you can mix it with a carrier oil and create a calming massage tonic.

It should not be applied directly to the skin.

Are there any risks of using clary sage oil?

While clary sage oil is generally considered safe, there are still some precautions to be aware of, according to Natalie.

“It’s recommended to avoid clary sage oil while drinking alcohol and while driving due to the oil’s potential narcotic effect,” says Natalie.

Louisa also recommends it be avoided in early or mid-pregnancy.

“I only use clary sage at the very end of pregnancy (39 weeks-plus),” she says.

“This is a precaution as there’s not enough research to say whether its usage is safe while the baby is still growing.”

Written by Samantha Allemann.