Do you use any herbs in cooking? Many people do but dont give it much thought. Take sage. Most people use it a couple times a year maybe, when making stuffing. But herbalists use sage a lot more frequently.
Sage is Mediterranean in origin. There are different varieties, and one comes from Central America. The Central American kind is unusual to say the least, as it can cause someone to hallucinate. The native people of the region of Central America where that kind of sage grows use it for religious purposes.
Sage was a sacred herb to the ancient Romans. So sacred, in fact, that there was a ritual that had to be performed before someone could harvest sage. He also had to be wearing clean clothes, and offer a food sacrifice before starting.
Further, the persons feet had to be clean. The harvesting itself required that the person use a special non-iron knife. Iron reacts with sage, which explains the choice of different materials.
The Chinese also used sage. They began using sage for tea, right about the same time that the Dutch discovered their Chinese tea. This worked out great for the Dutch. The Dutch would trade sage for Chinese tea with a one to four ratio in their favor! Theyd have four times as much tea as the sage they traded, and then theyd turn around and sell the tea at great profits.
We herbalists are also big fans of sage. For instance, Ill use sage to help someone who is having a flare up of irritable bowel syndrome. To serve up the sage, Ill simmer the leaves in beef broth for maybe twenty minutes. Chicken broth works just as well, the broth isnt therapeutic but is used for flavor because many people dont enjoy sage tea straight.
Sage has a drying aspect. This is very handy. Herbalists use sage to help women who are weaning children. Sage will help dry up milk flow, but is safe to give to a still-nursing mother because it wont hurt the child. It is also useful in cases where someone sweats too much, or for women having night sweats from menopause.
You should talk with your doctor before using any herb therapeutically (food amount usage, like as a spice, doesnt require a doctors advice). Your doctor can advise you on what is best for your own personal circumstances and medical history.