It has been a bad cold and flu season across the country and my own little household has not escaped it, with continuous sniffles and coughs since November. However, moving into January with a sore throat, I began to panic because I was scheduled to give a TEDx talk and needed a voice to deliver it. These talks are billed as “the most important 18 minutes of your life” and I couldn’t even swallow. (The TEDx event is here and the finished talk is online here.)
In my desperation, I hit up my friend Carol Little for advice. She’s an herbalist and wrote the book “Cold + Flu Season: Are You Ready?” (here). Apparently, I wasn’t “ready” this season as I typed a message to her, carefully avoiding to swallow as I did it, lest I set my throat on fire again.
Knowing we are long in fresh herbs here, Carol recommended that I go out and pick five sage leaves, steep them in a cup of tea, and sip the tea through the rest of the day. “Use the leaves again,” she recommended.
I stumbled outside to find our sage, shivering in the early January air. I picked the leaves, made the tea, and sipped it as commanded. It really worked! Awesome. The flavor is actually fairly decent. It is not a full-flavored tea like you will get with ginger or hibiscus, but it is pleasant sweetened with honey and sipped. Better yet, sage is simple to grow. You could have access to fresh sage leaves year-round with little effort.
As for sage safety, this is an herb many of us use regularly in cooking but there are warnings against using it medicinally in a prolonged fashion. In James Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Herbs he states that it’s not for long-term use, is contra-indicated in pregnancy, may interfere with anticonvulsant and hypoglycemic medications, and may increase the effects of sedatives. If you are pregnant or use any medications related to these, perhaps this simple tea is not your bet for a sore throat.
As for the TEDx talk, I got through it despite the sniffles and sleep disruptions. (It’s here.) I actually had to give the talk twice due to some recording problems with the first. In fact, my throat was not really my biggest problem. I found myself live, in front of 140 people, with a man lifting up my shirt and retrieving a microphone. I could have gone a number of directions with that, including simply being completely mortified but, really, we’ve got to take life’s opportunities as they come. The producer, Maurice Kaehler, was actually a personal yoga instructor to Madonna for a short time some years back — there is more about him on the site here. I’ll just mention the yoga bit, add that this was all in Hollywood, and post a picture of Maurice at right to give you a sense of the situation.
What’s a girl to do?
I kind of wiggled and said, “Maurice? What ARE you doing back there?” and so things progressed as you’d imagine, including with my 12-year-old son chiming in from the audience saying, “This is the best part!”
And so goes a tangent that somehow related to sage tea. 😉
I will also add that since that day in Hollywood, my favorite Hollywood yogi has written a fun and inspiring book 60 Second Guru: One Minute Spiritual Life Hacks For Growth, Relationships, Happiness and Empowerment. Find it here on Amazon for Kindle for a promotional price of 99 cents (though you don’t need a Kindle device to read it)