Sage extract rich in phenolic diterpenes inhibits ultraviolet-induced erythema in vivo

Planta Med. 2007 Sep;73(11):1190-1. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-981583. Epub 2007 Aug 23.


The leaves of sage (Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) contain high amounts of phenolic diterpenes such as carnosol and carnosic acid. These compounds display antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in vitro. Here, we have investigated the anti-inflammatory potency of a sage extract (SE) rich in phenolic diterpenes in vivo using the ultraviolet (UV) erythema test. In a prospective randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study, test areas on the backs of 40 healthy volunteers were irradiated with the 1.5-fold minimal erythema dose. Subsequently, the test areas were treated occlusively with 2% SE in a hydrophilic ointment, compared to 1% hydrocortisone and 0.1% betamethasone as positive controls, and the vehicle alone as placebo. Erythema values were measured photometrically prior to irradiation and after 48 hours. Compared to placebo, SE significantly reduced the ultraviolet-induced erythema, to a similar extent as hydrocortisone. These data suggest that SE might be useful in the topical treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology
  • Diterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythema / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Phenols / administration & dosage
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phenols / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Salvia officinalis*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Diterpenes
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts