Thursday, March 7, 2013

Center Sage

via American Spa magazine.
Sage essential oil
Sage-inspired treatments and products provide herbal healing.

Ancient Romans made a drink from sage, which they considered a sacred plant, and drank it as a tonic for their minds and bodies. Native Americans prized the plant for its cleansing and spiritual benefits, and even today it’s used to protect against evil and negativity. The Spa at Sundance at Sundance Resort (Utah), for example, uses the sweet-smelling smoke to purify and ward off malevolent energies in its Sage and Sweet Grass Ritual ($170, 80 minutes), a body wrap and smudging of white sage and sweet grass.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says sage essential oil may be used during massage to treat depression, and its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties make it a common homeopathic remedy for treating colds and sore throats. In fact, its botanical name, salvia, comes from the Latin word salvere, which means to feel well and healthy, a nod to the herb’s healing properties.

Sage’s power against colds and other illnesses may be the reason behind its energy-clearing reputation, says Marianne Griffeth, president of Prima Fleur. “When used for inhalation, sage is an antidepressant and is uplifting and cleansing for a stressed brain and tense body,” she says. “It stimulates mental clarity and stability, encouraging the mind to be focused and vigilant.”

The spa experience should soothe the mind as well as the body, which makes sage essential oil an excellent addition to massage oils and creams. As a post-treatment shampoo or shower gel, sage is refreshing and cleansing. Or, suggests Griffeth, use it in rooms as a diffuser between treatments for short durations to disinfect the air and eliminate stale energy. “In our busy world, we can all benefit from a little added mental clarity,” she says. “Treatments with sage can return you to a place that’s grounded and still but with the potential to move.”

Not only does the plant clear negative energy, but sage also works wonders when it comes to clearing skin ailments including acne, eczema, and signs of aging. While pregnant women should steer clear of sage in its pure essential oil form—sage contains the chemical thujone, which can be toxic during pregnancy—it’s a safe ingredient to use on sensitive skin and promotes skin strength and healing. “Sage is a very versatile ingredient for skincare,” says Stephanie Baresh, marketing director for Éminence Organic Skin Care. “It can be used to treat oily skin and hyperpigmentation and has great anti-aging benefits, as well.” Additionally, sage helps stimulate blood flow, is an antioxidant, restores elasticity, and tightens pores.

The powerful herb gets its skin-healing powers from two key acids. “Ursolic acid gives sage its wound-healing abilities, which is ideal for treating acne and eczema,” says Baresh. “Carnosic acid gives sage its antioxidant benefits to treat UVA and UVB damage and protect against future damage.”

And, adds Melissa Morris, corporate educator for Pevonia International, sage’s potent combination of phenolic acids, flavonoids, and superoxide dismutase (also known as SOD) combine to offer powerful antioxidant properties—magic words if you're seeking anti-aging solutions. Morris suggests utilizing sage’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to calm and soothe sensitive skin. “Sage extract carries the power to heal the skin, making it an ideal extract to soothe skin lesions, inflammations, and redness associated with sensitive and acneic skins,” she says.

Sage can also help close the pores and inhibit the action of sweat glands, says Alice Pichery, national trainer at Sothys Paris.

Sage’s sweet, herbaceous scent also lends itself well to many other aromatherapy oils, including geranium, lemon, orange, and rosemary. Pair it with basil for a treatment that evokes summer gardens. Lavender’s earthy, floral notes complement sage, too. Spa Solage at Solage Calistoga, an Auberge Resort (CA), blends the two herbs in its Sage and Lavender Body Polish and Massage ($198, 80 minutes), which uses Prima Fleur essential oil. And Sage Springs Spa at Sunriver Resort (OR) incorporates its signature Oregon lavender and sage into many of its treatments, including the Lavender and Sage Sugar Scrub ($115, 45 minutes) and Sage Springs Manicure and Pedicure ($140, 1 hour 40 minutes).

“Our sage-inspired services are so appealing to our Sunriver Resort guests, because they are inspired by the central Oregon high desert experience,” says spa operations manager Tifany LeGuyonne. “Our resort sits in the middle of a gorgeous natural environment, surrounded by juniper trees, wild sage, rushing rivers, and picturesque mountains. Our services offer our guests the opportunity to sample the natural environment around them at a world-class spa.” So, as the days become longer and warmer, bring the outdoors in and clear the air with the energizing, healing power of sage.
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