This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Sage: a low shrubby plant, with square stalks; obtuse wrinkled dry leaves set in pairs, and large bluish labiated flowers, in loose spikes on the tops of the branches: the upper lip of the flower is nipt at the extremity, the lower divided into three segments. It is a native of the southern parts of Europe, common in our gardens, and flowers in June.
1. Salvia Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Salvia major C. B. Salvia officinalis Linn. Common fage: with the leaves nearly oval, but acuminated, sometimes green and sometimes red: both the green and red sorts rise from the seeds of one and the same plant.
2. Salvia hortensis minor. Salvia minor aurita & non aurita C. B. Small sage, or sage of virtue: with narrower leaves, generally whi-tish, never red: most of them have at the bottom a piece standing out at each side in the form of ears. This is a variety of the former.
The leaves and tops of sage are moderately aromatic and corroborant, and used in debilities and relaxations both of the nervous and vascular system. Their smell is pretty strong and not disagreeable; their taste somewhat warm, bitter-ish, and subastringent: with solution of chalybeate vitriol, they strike a deep black colour. The second sort is both in smell and taste the strongest, the first most agreeable. Of both kinds, the flowers are weaker and more grateful than the leaves; and the cup of the flower stronger, and obviously more refinous, than any other part.
The leaves of sage give out their virtue both to water and rectified spirit, most perfectly to the latter; to the former they impart a brown-irh, to the latter a dark green tincture. The watery infusion is often used as tea, and often acidulated with a little lemon juice for a diluent in febrile distempers: the spirituous tincture is in taste stronger than the watery, but the smell of the sage is by this menstruum covered or fup-pressed. The leaves and flowery tops, distilled with water, yield a small quantity of essential oil, smelling strongly and agreeably of the herb, in taste very warm and pungent, when newly distilled of a fine greenish colour, by age turning yellow or brown: the remaining decoction, diverted vetted of this aromatic and most active principle of the sage, yields an extract weakly bitterish, subastringent, and subsaline. The spirituous extract, in smell weak and somewhat different in kind from that of the herb itself, discovers to the taste a considerable aromatic warmth and pungency, resembling that of camphor, but milder.