Last year I was running through the woods when I tripped and broke my fall with my mouth. I will spare you the bloody details, just know that I ended up losing two teeth. In the months following, while toothless and searching for a dentist, I was doing a lot of warm salt water rinses. I would add 1/4 tsp of salt to 1 cup of warm water, swish for 1-3 minutes, and spit. This ratio of salt:water is ideal for the cells of the human body as it matches the internal balance. Sea salt is beneficial for traumatized mouths because it is both cleansing and healing. It’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties help keep wounds from becoming infected. At the same time it tones loose or damaged tissue with it’s vulnerary actions. I would swish with warm salt water three times per day, after meals. Along with this regiment, I would sip Sage tea throughout the day, as it is also cleansing and toning. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent, so it is especially helpful for fragile gums that are fighting infection.
As I was mixing my salt water rinse one day, I remembered that if I mixed a lot of salt into a jar of water until the salt no longer dissolved, the saline solution could sit on my countertop without going bad, indefinitely preserved by the high percentage of salt. With this preparation tactic, I could prepare many salt water rinses all at once, in a concentrate.
For a week, I gladly sipped and swished from my “Ocean Jar”, as I called it. I would dilute the “ocean mixture” in water, 1-2 tsp in 1/2 cup of water. I came up with this measurement by tasting different measurements to find a range that seemed to match the saline content of a typical saline solution. In a moment of curiosity, I wondered if I could make this saline solution with not just water, but a strong herbal infusion of Sage leaves. I did just that and called it “Sage Ocean”. For many months this jar sat on my counter and never went bad!
During this experimentation time, I came across a few other scenarios where Sage Ocean came into use. I used it to irrigate a dirty wound, and I also used it as a sore throat gargle. Saltwater gargles are one of the best remedies for painful sore throats, and Sage does a noble job fighting the infection. In every application, I diluted the preparation in water in the previously mentioned ratio. Sage Ocean became a very handy thing to have sitting on my countertop, patiently awaiting it’s next moment to shine in illness and wound care.
Before Sage Ocean, I had not heard of preserving herbal infusions with salt, and it is intriguing to know that it is very do-able! I wonder if there are other situations in which this preservation method could be of use…
Sage Ocean Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup fresh Sage leaves (Salvia officinalis), or 1/2 cup dried leaves
1/3 cup salt
1. Bring the water to a boil and pour over Sage leaves. Cover and steep for at least 30 minutes.
2. Strain out Sage leaves.
3. Add salt to the water, and allow it to sit until the salt dissolves. If all the salt dissolves, add more until the water no longer takes in the salt. The salt will preserve the preparation indefinitely, as far as I can tell.
When I use Sage Ocean, I dilute 1 tsp Sage Ocean in 4 oz of warm water.
Sore throat gargle
As time went by, Sage Ocean was a significant aid to my mouth. After I had a bridge put in, I continued to use it. I found that, with the bridge, it was hard for my gums to fully heal, and they would often bleed while I cleaned my teeth. Because of this, I substituted Sage for Yarrow leaves (Achillea millefolia), and I made a jar of “Yarrow Ocean”. Yarrow is astringent, anti-microbial, vulnerary, and hemostatic (meaning that it stops bleeding). Though Yarrow Ocean tasted awful, in my opinion, it worked wonders on my bleeding gums.
My most recent “Herbal Ocean” is a Florida special, made with Sweetgum leaves (Liquidamber styraciflua), Juniper berries (Juniperus virginiana), and Bayberry leaves (Myrica cerifera). I use it for those times when my gums become tender, painful, and susceptible to easy bleeding.
Raise your Herbal Ocean jars in a toast to the healing wonders of sea salt and herbs!