Is Sage or Clary Sage Safe for Pregnancy? Food, Tea + More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Sage is a popular herb used in different dishes worldwide. However, some herbs are off-limits during pregnancy, so you might wonder if it’s safe for you.

Unfortunately, sage is not safe for pregnancy in any form because it contains thujone. Thujone is a component of sage that can trigger menstruation and cause a miscarriage.  

Let’s talk more about the safety of sage during pregnancy and the risks that come along with it, as well as different sage varieties.

Is Sage a Safe Herb to Eat When Pregnant?

Sage is not safe to consume during pregnancy because it has the potential to cause menstruation, which can contribute to a miscarriage.

This risk of miscarriage is present primarily due to the presence of thujone, which is a biologically active compound found in sage. Thujone is also found in some other herbs, such as wormwood. 

fresh sage leaves on a cutting board

Thujone compounds have a stimulant effect on the muscles of the uterus. Therefore, even trace amounts of thujone are discouraged for women who are pregnant because of the possible health risks (source: Evergreen State College).

In addition, the European Medicines Agency released a public statement about the use of herbal products that contain the active compound thujone. They recommended that pregnant women avoid herbal medicinal products that contain thujone.

To be safe, sage should be avoided, whether it is used as an herb, seasoning, fresh, or dried. However, you can often find sage in a wide range of dishes, from savory entrees to sweet desserts to specialty beverages.

For example, sage is commonly paired with chicken and pasta (such as gnocchi or ravioli) or used to season soups. It is also often used to make sage tea — more on this below!

Sage is also available in supplemental forms, such as powder or tablets. These products should not be used during pregnancy. 

Additionally, essential oils containing thujone (such as sage essential oil) have potentially adverse effects on pregnant women and should be avoided (source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences).

Are Clary Sage or Spanish Sage Safe for Pregnancy? 

Clary sage, which is also known as salvia sclarea, is a member of the mint family with some medicinal uses (source: Montana State University). 

Clary sage essential oil is a popular aromatherapy oil, but it should not be ingested, and you should consult with a physician before using it topically. Do not use clary sage for any purpose before at least 37 weeks of gestation (source: Herbal Medicine).

Spanish sage (salvia lavandulifolia) does not contain thujone. Therefore, it is likely safe for pregnant women to consume (source: Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine). However, it is important to still speak with your physician before consuming Spanish sage. 

healthy herbal sage tea with green leaves in glass cup

Can I Drink Sage Tea When Pregnant? 

Since sage contains the toxic chemical thujone, which can have very serious risks to your pregnancy, it is recommended to avoid sage tea when pregnant.

As mentioned above, Spanish sage does not contain thujone, so it is likely safer for pregnant women. However, since many sage teas do not specify the exact type of sage used, it is best to avoid those products.

Some herbal tea blends may contain sage as an ingredient that is not well advertised on the product packaging. Therefore, always check the ingredients list of any herbal tea or herbal product blend to ensure there are no dangerous herbs, such as sage. 

Instead of sage tea, opt for a calming herbal tea, such as peppermint or ginger tea. These examples are safe herbal teas without risk to pregnant women or their babies. 

I hope this article was beneficial in breaking down the safety of consuming sage during your pregnancy.