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Clary sage essential oil is an extract obtained from the steam distillation of the small blue and white flowers and hairy leaves of the perennial herb Salvia sclarea. The oil extracted from the herb is used for a variety of purposes, including aromatherapy, bathing, massage, and perfumery. It also is used in the production of certain wines. The color varies from clear to pale yellow, and it tends to have a nutty, sweet fragrance.
The herb itself is native to southern Europe, it is it now cultivated worldwide. This essential oil was used in the middle ages for an assortment of medicinal purposes, and it was used regularly in Jamaica for treating ulcers and eye inflammations. Although it is no longer used medicinally, clary sage essential oil remains fairly popular for use by herbalists and as an aromatherapy fragrance. Used in wine, the oil is what helps to create a muscatel flavor.
As an aromatherapy treatment, clary sage essential oil is used mainly to relieve stress and tension, because it is considered to help with relaxation. This makes the oil effective for helping with insomnia and irritability, and it might even help with menopause and painful menstrual cycles because of its calming effect on the nervous system. As an additive in lotions, it is believed to help with various skin conditions, such as acne or boils, and it can relieve joint and muscle pain when applied topically.
The oil is believed to be non-toxic and non-irritating, but it has been found in large doses to cause headaches. Drinking alcoholic beverages while using it is not recommended, because this can increase the effects of the alcohol. It must not be used in any form by women who are pregnant or nursing.
Most forms of clary sage essential oil are not intended for ingestion. Although occasionally used to enhance the flavor of some wines, it usually is used topically, such as when it is added to lotions or as an inhalant in aromatherapy. Adding this oil to food or drink is not recommended. Limited research has been done on the effects of the oil, but a medical professional should be consulted before it is used.