Sage appears to have been used as a medicinal herb at the time of the Romans8) and was one of the plants recommended by Charlemagne for cultivation.9) In the "Destillirbuch" by Brun-schwig of 1500 a distinction is made between large and small sage10) for the distillation of sage water. Furthermore a species of Eupatorium, the Kunigundenkraut, is referred to as wild sage and directed to be distilled.1)
1) Pfeiffer, Zwei deutsche Arzneibucher des 12. und 13. Jahfhunderts. In Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akad. der Wissensch. 1863. Vol.42, p. 124.
2) Register alter apothekischen Simplicien und Compositen, so in den beiden Messen zu Frankfurt a. M. durch die Materialisten, Kauffleut, Wurzel-trager, Krautler, auch durch die Apotheker daselbst verkaufft werden. 1582.
3) Dulk, CommentarzurPharmacopcea Borussica. 3.ed. 1833. Vol.1, p. 643.
4) Wm. Lewis, The new Dispensatory. London 1746.
5) F. Cartheuser, Elementa chymicae dogmatico-experimentalis. Halae 1736. Vol. 2, pp. 133 and 149.
6) Arezula, Resultado de las experiencias hechas sobre a/can for de Murcia non licencia. Segovia 1789.
7) Annal. de Chim. et Phys. 4 (1790), 318; 13 (1792), 273; 49 (1804), 159.
8) Theophrasti Historia plantarum. Lib.VI, cap. 2. - Dioscoridis De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel 1829. Vol.1, p. 381. Vol. 2, p. 510.
9) Capitulare de villis et cortis imperial/bus. Anno 812. Translated and explained in Fuhling's Landwirtschaftl. Zeitung. April number 1878. pp.241 to260.
10) Brunschwig, Liber de arte destillandi. De simplicibus. 1500. fol. 103.
The distilled oil of sage2) is first mentioned in the price ordinances of Worms of 1582, and of Frankfurt of 1587. It is also included in the 1589 edition of the Dispensatorium Nor/cum. In 1688, the distillation of the oil was described by Begnini.3) The yield of oil from the leaves was determined by Wedel4) in 1715 also by Friedr. Cartheuser5) about 1732. In 1720 CI. J. Geoffroy observed a stearoptene which had crystallized from the oil, and which he termed sage camphor.6) The same substance was again observed by Arezula7) of Cadiz in 1789 and described by him.
The first examination of the leaves appears to have been made by Illisch8) of Riga in 1810; whereas the oil was investigated by Herberger9) in 1829 and by Fr. Rochleder10) in 1841.