Clary Sage Oil For Stress Relief & Women’s Health


The medicinal use of clary sage dates back to the age of Rome and Greece. Officially named Salvia sclarea, it was used for eye conditions, to clear (clarify) the eyes, potentially with the mucilaginous seeds. In 1653, Dante Culpeper's work Complete Herbal described clary sage as such:

“The seed put into the eyes clears them from motes, and such like things gotten within the lids to offend them, as also clears them from white and red spots on them. The mucilage of the seed made with water, and applied to tumours, or swellings, disperses and takes them away; as also draws forth splinters, thorns, or other things gotten into the flesh. The leaves used with vinegar, either by itself, or with a little honey, doth help boils, felons, and the hot inflammation that are gathered by their pains, if applied before it be grown too great… The juice of the herb put into ale or beer, and drank, brings down women's courses, and expels the after-birth.” (1)

Centuries later, we still use clary sage oil in similar ways, particularly for its anti-inflammatory benefits and role in women's health.

What is Clary Sage?


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Primarily originating from the Mediterranean region, clary sage is a Salvia variant, which you may know from your ornamental perennial garden or from its cousin sage, which is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Salvia are part of the larger Lamiaceae distinction, the mint family, which is full of fragrant plants rich in essential oil and healing qualities.

Clary sage is used in both herb and essential oil form, and even the seeds have nutritional value. As with any herb or essential oil, where clary sage is grown, how and when it is harvested, and the parts of the plant used all play a part in the quality and components. (2)

Covered in spikes of flowers, fragrant, and grown as a perennial, it's little wonder that the ancients found use for this favorite family of herbs!

Composition of Clary Sage

Clary sage essential oil is derived from the flowering tops and contains many components known for their anti-inflammatory and calming benefits, including linalool (a major component of lavender essential oil), linalyl acetate (excellent for anti-inflammatory benefits on skin), and a component called sclareol. The method of extraction may affect the components found in the essential oil, so always be aware of your source before using an oil therapeutically. (3)

Aside from anti-inflammatory abilities, clary sage is also known to be relaxing and antidepressant, antifungal, and antimicrobial. It is also an excellent antioxidant source, with a large portion of its composition coming from caryophyllene oxide, a powerful antioxidant that may even be implicated in fighting the effects of aging and prolonging life! (4, 5)

Another component, sclareol, has shown some promising things in lab tests. Over the last couple of decades but as recently as this year (2015), studies have emerged that analyze sclareol's effect on cancer cells. With the caveat that these benefits occurred within the confines of lab cultures and dose adjustments, sclareol may have an impact on the way that cancer cells proliferate, and they could help to induce apoptosis (cancer cell death). (6, 7)

While this does not tell us how much potential sclareol has to directly treat cancer – and it's exciting to think about where that could go one day! – it is a common thread that we see in many antioxidant-rich essential oils. This is especially interesting for clary sage, because some claim that it is “estrogenic” due to the sclareol content and should be avoided by estrogen-dominent cancer patients. This, of course, is a myth and I discuss the reasons why at the end of this report.

3 Clary Sage Oil Uses

Really, you can't go wrong with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. There are a few uses that stand out as particularly effective for clary sage, though, with plenty of research to back them up.

1. Antimicrobial skin protectionIn 2015, researchers in Poland published results of their search for effective treatments for antibiotic resistant bacteria. When applied to resistant strains of the Staphylococcus bacteria, clary sage was able to kill the bacteria, where other antibiotics failed. (8)

Earlier, in 2012, a blend of essential oils was tested against Staphylococcus bacteria, as well as E. coli and the pervasive Candida fungus. A blend of lavender, clary sage, and ylang ylang was found to be synergistically effective against all three. (9)

2. Stress ReliefAromatherapy is linked with relaxation and stress-relief in many of our minds, even before we become familiar with essential oils. I know that's all I knew of them at first! But certain oils are more effective than others, and clary stage stands out. In fact, when a group of essential oils were tested for antidepressant abilities, clary sage showed far and away the most potential, indicating it as a potential stand-alone treatment thanks to dopamine regulation. (10)

3 Women's HealthClary sage is most commonly known as an herb and essential oil for women's health issues, exhibiting benefits in all phases of life. Young women dealing with menstrual pain have found relief, even moreso than what acetaminophen could provide. (11) Women with dysmenorrhea found similar relief. (12)

In childbirth, where pain is often exacerbated by anxiety and stress, clary sage and chamomile exhibit strong pain relieving results in a safe, easily administered manner. In fact, when a midwifery practice implemented the use of these oils both topically in a carrier oil and via diffusion, the use of pain relieving opioids begain to decrease significantly. (13)

Finally, as women reach menopausal years, the use of antidepressants begins to increase dramatically. Clary sage may help to ease this stressful transition of life, reducing cortisol levels and exhibiting and antidepressant-like effect (14)

For maximum effects, try blending clary sage with oils that have similar properties, like lavender and chamomile.

Clary Sage Essential Oil Uses Infographic

Is Clary Sage Oil Estrogenic?

The simple answer is, “No.”

There is a myth floating around the cyber word that, because clary sage contains sclareol, it mimics the steroid estrogen, but this is simply a poor understanding of the science of phytochemicals. Chemist Robert Pappas, PhD explains it best: (15)

  • “First of all sclareol is actually a very minute component of the essential oil of clary sage despite some authors claiming that sclareol is present in clary sage oil at 1.6-7.0%, an utterly ridiculous claim. Almost all steam distilled clary sage oils on the market (I would say 99.9% of them) have less than 0.5% sclareol content….
  • “Secondly, if we look at the structure of sclareol…we will see that it actually has very little in common with the structure of any of the estrogen molecules…Sclareol is not a steroid but what would have to be termed a diterpene diol, not even remotely close to the necessary steroidal backbone.”
  • “Sclareol is not a steroidal estrogen, does not mimic the function of any estrogen molecules, does not stimulate estrogen production (why would it?), and would not appear to have any mechanism by which it can “balance hormones” at least not by a pathway that has anything to do with estrogens… I am not saying that it’s impossible that clary sage can have some of the effects that have been claimed, but just be aware that its not really possible that the oil can mimic estrogens or that the oil contains estrogen like molecules.”

In regards to estrogenic breast cancer, essential oil expert Robert Tisserand mimics Pappas' assertion, “Sclareol does have an interesting anticancer activity, including in vitro action against human breast cancer MCF-7 cells (Dimas et al 2006). An isomer, 13-epi-sclareol, which is also present in clary sage oil, inhibits the growth of breast and uterine cancers in vitro, and was slightly more potent than Tamoxifen, but was not toxic to normal cells (Sashidhara et al 2007). This suggests the possibility that sclareol might actually inhibit estrogen, and might after all have some capacity to interact with estrogen receptor sites. What we do know is that sclareol will not give you breast cancer.” (16)

Safety & Contraindications

Are you sure you're using essential oils safely and effectively? Are you confused by dilutions and conversions?

 Let me help take out the guesswork and download my FREE roller bottle guide HERE.

Essential Oil Roller Bottle Dilution Guide

When it comes to drug interactions and contraindications, there are literally textbooks devoted to the study of essential oil safety and, as a trained researcher and doctor, I think it’s important to note that there is virtually no research out there discussing how essential oils interact with drugs in human clinical trials. This means that essential oil safety is still a wild frontier in the science community and no one really knows (for certain) how essential oils will interact with drugs or your body.

Nonetheless, properly diluting your essential oils is fundamental to safety and effectiveness because they are highly concentrated plant compounds. To help you along your journey, I have a created an easy-to-use dilution guide that you can download for FREE to make sure that all of your topical applications are safe and effective for the entire family. 

<< CLICK HERE to Download My FREE EO Roller Bottle Dilution Chart! >>

As with as medicine and natural therapies, this is only a guide and be sure to discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur and consult your physician immediately.



This post currently has 28 comments.

  1. Donna
    September 1, 2017

    My daughter has severe stomach pain during periods (she has 1 child) what would be the best way to use this? topically or ingested?

    • Dr. Z
      September 4, 2017

      Diluted topical use for sure. 🙂

    November 15, 2016

    Is it safe for children? Can it help with behavioral issues (e.g., acting out, tantrums, to calm)?

    • Dr. Z
      November 20, 2016

      If heavily diluted (topical) and diffused properly, it should be fine for kiddos. We’ve used them on ours for years w/no problems. It’s definitely not for internal use, though.

  3. Fiona
    October 16, 2016

    I wad wondering If I could use clary sage EO i stead of HRT to help relieve menopause symptoms? I cannot take HRT ad I duffer for severe migraines. Thank you

  4. Enid
    October 14, 2016

    Hi Dr. Z,
    I had a hysterectomy last year. Sadly I developed pulmonary embolism few days after the surgery. Gynecologist told me no estrogen for me ever! Would it be safe to use lavender or clary sage? What other protocol could I use? My skin is very dry and I’m loosing my hair. Would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

    • Customer Support
      November 28, 2016

      My apologies, but Dr. Z is legally prohibited from giving medical advice over email. He has, however, created a special Facebook group that can help as we have hundreds of members that are actively engaged in sharing testimonies of how they have overcome similar illnesses as yours. You can be part of it by joining his essential oil’s club here –>

  5. Ruth
    September 17, 2016

    I have read that Clary Sage is helpful with renal disorders, but that wasn’t mentioned in this article. Will you point me to essential oils that are helpful to the kidneys?


  6. sunita
    April 18, 2016

    HI Dr. Z:
    I was reading about Clary Sage and how it can help clear up issues with the eye. I noticed I have like a white bump in the schelera…and have had for a month now. Used eye drops to aim to lubricate…but still hasn’t disappeared. They state that it is like a stye on the eye. Above I read that clary sage help clears up eye disorders…how would I dilute…by how much and with distilled water or what and use like eye drops?
    Thanks so much

    • Dr. Z
      April 27, 2016

      Hi Sunita,

      Be careful never to put EOs in your eyes. What is written above refers to the actual herb/seed and how it was used historically.

      The medicinal use of clary sage dates back to the age of Rome and Greece. Officially named Salvia sclarea, it was used for eye conditions, to clear (clarify) the eyes, potentially with the mucilaginous seeds. In 1653, Dante Culpeper’s work Complete Herbal described clary sage as such:

      “The seed put into the eyes clears them from motes, and such like things gotten within the lids to offend them, as also clears them from white and red spots on them…”

  7. LuAnne
    February 28, 2016

    My 8 year old daughter has hashimotos and her endocrinologist told me not to use lavender on her as it has estrogenic properties. Is that true? It helps so with allergies and to help sleep.

    • Dr. Z
      February 28, 2016

      Hi LuAnne,

      I can’t recommend to disregard your physician’s advice, but I’d recommend printing out this article and asking your endocrinologist about this:

      According to essential oils safety expert Robert Tisserand, “Lavender oil does not mimic estrogen nor does it enhance the body’s own estrogens. It is therefore not a ‘hormone disruptor’, cannot cause breast growth in young boys (or girls of any age), and is safe to use by anyone at risk for estrogen-dependent cancer. The lack of estrogenic action is the conclusion of a new report, which used a novel form of ‘uterotrophic’ assay.”

  8. LuAnne
    February 28, 2016

    I found the best results with DoTerra’s Lifelong vitality pack vitamins. Especially the omega 3’s. They changed the formula and I went back to moody, anxious lack of concentration etc. it took about 3 months for my body to adjust but I’m doing better. The balance blend diffused also helps me. The major change in the omega was the removal of flax. I know it has estrogenic properties and I have Graves’ disease but it never bothered me. Only helped. I’ve been in remission for over 10 years.

    • Dr. Z
      February 28, 2016

      That’s interesting about how your body responded to their change in formula. Wonder what they did?

      As a policy, we normally don’t keep posts up that promote a product, but since you’re not “selling” doTERRA, I think it’s a good idea to share this information because people can benefit from it.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Dace
      May 28, 2016

      LuAnne, have you tried the vegan version of LLV? Omega3 product contains only plant based ingredients, including flax seed.

  9. Ellie
    February 27, 2016

    I make a skin probiotic kit and use clary sage to help balance hormones in acne suffering clients. An amazing and up lifting EO. I use it daily in my skincare. Clary save, lavender, chamomile and pink grapefruit is divine!

    • Dr. Z
      February 28, 2016

      That sounds lovely!

    • Michelle
      February 29, 2016


      I have a teenage son who is getting really bad acne and I was wondering if you could explain how you use the clary sage and your kit you put together to help him. I have tried other products that say help with acne only to find out it’s not working or even making things worse. I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you,

      • Lori
        September 25, 2016

        We use tea tree oil with great success.

  10. TheresaTheresa
    February 27, 2016

    You stated that clary sage has phytoestrogen abilities. How safe is it to use if you have a history of estrogen positive tumor and your dr has advised you to avoid any estrogen or phytoestrogen product?

    • Dr. Z
      February 28, 2016

      Hi Theresa,

      Good question. I, in fact did not state that clary sage has phytoestrogen abilities. I said that esters, which are found in clary sage, “are commonly avoided in those who have cancer, as the phytoestrogen ability can, in theory, feed into cancer.”

      According to EO expert Robert Tisserand, it cannot be proven that clary sage is estrogenic:

      “This does not mean that clary sage oil is not effective. It may well be useful in relieving menstrual pain, pre-menstrual symptoms, menopausal symptoms and other problems, but none of this necessitates an estrogen-like action. And, I’m not saying that sclareol could not possibly be estrogen-like, I’m just saying there’s no evidence that it is, nor does its structure suggest such an effect. This also means that there’s no evidence to support clary sage oil “balancing hormones”, mimicking estrogens only if there is an estrogen deficiency, or stimulating the body to produce natural estrogens.”

  11. charlotte
    February 27, 2016

    I’m wondering if it would help permanent hot flashes. Had a hysterectomy and never quit having flashes.

    • Theresa
      February 27, 2016

      I had severe hot flashes when I went through menopause. After I started taking flax seed oil they disappeared.

      • Dr. Z
        February 27, 2016

        Wow, that’s awesome! How did you take it? How much? How often?…

        • Maritza
          May 11, 2016

          I was wondering the same thing. How much? How often? How to take it?

    • Karen
      February 28, 2016

      I was also wondering about using Clary Sage since I had a hysterectomy a few years ago.


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