Sage weed

Family • Lamiaceae - Salvia plebeia R. Brown - SAGE WEED - Li zhi cao

Scientific names

Salvia plebeia R. Brown
Salvia plebeia var. R. Br. var, latifolia E. Peter
Salvia brachiata Roxb.
Salvia parviflora Roxb.
Salvia minutiflora Bunge
Ocimum fastigiatum Roth.
Ocimum virgatum Thunb.

Common names

Mizo-kouiju (Japanese)
Zhou pi cong (Chin.)
Sage weed (Engl.)

Salvia plebeia is an annual, hairy herb. Stems are stout, erect, hoary, and 15 to 45 centimeters in height. Leaves are oblong ovate, 2.5 to 7.5 centimeters long, narrowed and pointed at both ends. Spikes are panicled, often fastigiate. Flowers are hardly 6 millimeters long, lilac or nearly white, occurring in small, very numerous whorls in numerous, slender, panicled, glandular racemes. Calyx is stalked, bell-shaped, and 10 to 12 millimeters long; the upper calyx-lip is entire, and the lower one obtusely 2-toothed. Corolla-tube is very short, and the included upper lip is short, nearly straight, slightly flattened, and concave. Nutlets are very minute and ellipsoid.

Sage weed

– Found in Cagayan Province in Luzon.
– Probably occurs also as a weed in and about towns in various provinces at low altitudes.
– Also occurs in India to China, Malaya and Australia.

– Considered astringent, diuretic, vermifuge.
– Antihepatotoxic, antidiarrheal, antispasmodic, analgesic.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antioxidant activity of compounds isolated from Salvia plebeia / XC Weng and W Wang / Food Chemistry
Volume 71, Issue 4, December 2000, Pages 489-493 / doi:10.1016/S0308-8146(00)00191-6

(2) The pharmacological activities of Compound Salvia Plebeia Granules on treating urinary tract infection / Peng MM, Fang Y, Hu W, Huang Q / J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 May 4;129(1):59-63. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

(3) Chemical constituents of the whole herbs of Salvia plebeia R. Br. / Hab Guo-hua, Li Zhan-lin et al / Journal of Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, 2009-11 / DOi: CNKI:SUN:SYYD.0.2009-11-013

(4) Evaluation of Hepatoprotective Effects of “Chhit-Chan-Than” from Taiwan / Chun-Ching Lin, Jung-Kuei Lin And and Cheng-Hsiung Chang / Pharmaceutical Biology, 1995, Vol. 33, No. 2 , Pages 139-143 / (doi:10.3109/13880209509055214)

(5) Antioxidant properties of natural components from Salvia plebeia on oxidative stability of ascidian oil / Jiang Al-li and Wang Chang-hai

(6) SOME PHENOLIC COMPOUNDS OF SALVIA PLEBEIA R. BR. / Rupali Shirsat, Subhash Suradkar and Deepak Koche / Bioscience Discovery, 3(1):61-63, Jan. 2012


(8) Anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic and anti-nociceptive activities of an ethanol extract of Salvia plebeia R. Brown / Jung HJ, Song YS, Lim CJ, Park EH / J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Nov 12;126(2):355-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Sage weed2

– Phytochemical screenings have yielded flavones, lignans, and diterpenoids.
– Study yielded six compounds: hispidulin-glucoronide, hispidulin-7-O-D-glucoside, 6-methoxy-luteolin-7-glucoside, ß-sitosterol, 2′-hydroxy-5′-methoxybiochanin A and coniferyl aldehyde.
– Study of whole plant yielded: ß-sitosterol, hispidulin, carnosol, rosmadial, ursolic acid, pectolinarigenin, epirosmanol, caffeic acid methyl ester and scopoletin.
– Analysis for phenolic compounds yielded a predominant amount of rosmarinic acid, followed by luteolin and hispidulin.
– Study yielded two monomers of homoplantaginin and hispidulin.

Parts used
Seeds, leaves.

Flowers and leaves used as condiment.

Sage weed3Folkloric
– Seeds are used in gonorrhea, menorrhagia, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids.
– Used in folk medicine for treatment of hepatitis, cough, and inflammation.
– Paste of plant applied to wounds between toes caused by prolonged walking barefoot in muddy water.
– In Bombay, used to increase sexual powers.
– In China, used as anti-inflammatory and for treating urinary tract infections.

Study Findings
• Antioxidant: Study yielded six compounds. (See:Constituents) Compounds 3, 4 and 5 ( 6-methoxy-luteolin-7-glucoside, β-sitosterol, 2′-hydroxy-5′-methoxybiochanin A) showed strong antioxidant activities.
• Pharmacologic Activities: Study on pharmacologic activities of Compound Salvia Plebeia Granules (CSPG) long used for treating UTIs showed a dose-related diuretic effect, antipyretic, antiblastic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Results support its folkloric use on treating urinary tract infections.
• Chemical Constituents: Study on whole plant of Salvia plebeia yielded nine compounds: ß-sitosterol, hispidulin, carnosol, rosmadial, ursolic acid, pectolinarigenin, epirosmanol, caffeic acid methyl ester and scopoletin. 8 and 9 were reported for Salvia genus for the first time and 3-7 from S. plebeia for the first time.
• New Phenylbutanone Glucoside: Study yielded a new phenylbutanone glucoside, salviaplebeiaside, along with two known phenolic compounds, rosmarinic acid methyl ester and luteolin-7-O-ß-D-glucoside.
• Hepatoprotective: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective effects of “Chhit-Chan-Than,” a Taiwan herbal remedy believed to have anti-inflammatory and detoxification activities, and used in the treatment of hepatitis. The crude extracts of the three herbal components – Salvia plebeia, O gratissimum and O basilicum – were studied. Results showed that S. plebeia was the most potent of the three crude extracts, protecting the liver against CCl4-intoxication and D-GaIN-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-Angiogenic / Antinociceptive / Antioxidant: Study showed an ethanol extract to possess anti-inflammatory and related anti-angiogenic, antinociceptive and antioxidant activities.
• Antitumor: Study of various extracts of S. plebeia showed the dichlormethane extract to have the most potent cytotoxic effect against K562 cells. Results suggest the extract may inhibit the cancer cell proliferation by inducing cell apoptosis.