Garden sage (Salvia officinalis L.) is a small herbaceous aromatic, medicinal, and culinary plant from the Lamiaceae family (Pederson, 2000). Garden sage essential oil is extracted from the whole above-ground herbage and has numerous applications as aromatic and medical ingredients in various products such as cosmetic items and also in the food and pharmaceutical industries (Heath, 1978; Tucker et al., 1980). Most of the commercial production of garden sage essential oil is concentrated in countries in eastern Europe, Russia, and in the Mediterranean region (Atanassova and Nedkov, 2004).
Ancient Greeks and Romans have been cultivating and using garden sage as a medicinal and culinary herb for some 2000 years. The plant has and continues to be used in the traditional medicine in many countries, especially in the Mediterranean region. For example, Bulgarian traditional medicine has been using garden sage leaves to improve digestion, to treat stomach cataracts and ulcers, to treat some liver and kidney diseases and inflammations, and to decrease milk in nursing mothers at the end of breastfeeding (Stojanov, 1973). Extract from garden sage also is used for bathing small children with skin inflammations (rashes). Garden sage essential oil has a long history of application in the food and liquor industries (as an aromatic vector in salami, cheese, and wine), in the pharmaceutical industry, and in perfumery and cosmetics (Stojanov, 1973). Garden sage plant extract has also been reported to treat Alzheimer’s disease (Akhondzadeh et al., 2003) and can be used to derive plant-based antibiotic and treat various bacterial diseases in humans (Delamare et al., 2007).
Garden sage essential oil is traditionally extracted by steam distillation (Topalov, 1962). Although there are numerous reports on garden sage essential oil composition, there is no agreement in the literature regarding the optimal steam DT for the extraction of the essential oil from garden sage biomass. We hypothesized that the duration of the steam distillation process would have a significant effect on garden sage essential oil yield and composition. Furthermore, testing a range of DTs may identify the optimal DT for oil yields and to obtain oil with a specific desirable composition.
Indeed, recent reports demonstrated a significant effect of steam DT on the essential oil in other species from the same family such as peppermint (Cannon et al., 2013; Zheljazkov and Astatkie, 2012a), oregano (Zheljazkov et al., 2012a), Japanese cornmint (Zheljazkov and Astatkie, 2012b), and lavender (Zheljazkov et al., 2013). The plants from the Lamiacea family have a similar type of essential oil glands (Hay and Svoboda, 1993), and their essential oil is traditionally extracted by steam distillation (Topalov, 1962). Therefore, the objectives of this study were to evaluate a series of steam DTs for garden sage essential oil extraction and develop regression models to predict oil yield and composition of garden sage oil at any given DT. The findings can also be used to compare reports on garden sage oil yield and composition in which different DTs have been used.
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