Do you need a hand getting up after
a long night's sleep? For most of us the answer is caffeine.
Whether in tea, coffee or a fizzy drink, caffeine is the world's
most popular drug - but is it really the most effective pick-me-up?
The BBC's Trust Me I'm a Doctor set about testing caffeine against
some unlikely sounding alternatives: including sage.
Professor Peter Rogers of the
University of Bristol decided to run a caffeine experiment. For
their experiment he recruited 20 people, half of whom never
normally touch caffeine, while the other half were regular caffeine
imbibers. Both groups were asked to abstain from caffeine for 12
hours before undergoing tests to measure mental agility,
concentration and dexterity. They then received a drink with a good
jolt of caffeine in it. The results, for coffee drinkers, were
"Overall", Rogers said, "regular
caffeine consumers who had been without caffeine overnight were
slower on the reaction time task, were sleepier and were less
mentally alert than non-users." This finding is in line with other
studies that he has done. Deprived of caffeine, regular users
struggle, but when they got their fix their scores improved but
only up to the levels that non-users had achieved without
There have been quite a few studies
that show the benefits of sage, including one with the delightful
title Effects of Cholinesterase Inhibiting Sage (Salvia
officinalis) on Mood, Anxiety and Performance on a Psychological
Stressor Battery. This study involved a double-blind,
placebo-controlled crossover trial involving 30 healthy volunteers.
The researchers found that eating 600mg of dried sage leaf in pill
form led to "reduced anxiety, increased alertness, calmness and