Herb: Chia

Latin name: Salvia columbariae

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Chia:

The seed is digestive, disinfectant, febrifuge and ophthalmic. An infusion can be used in the treatment of fevers. A poultice of the seed mush can be applied to infections. The seeds have been kept in the mouth, and chewed during long journeys on foot, in order to give strength. The seeds have been used to cleanse the eyes or remove foreign matter from the eyes. No more information is given here, but in other instances the seed has been placed in the eye, it then forms a gelatinous covering to which any foreign matter in the eye adheres. The seed is washed out of the eye by the eyes own tears.

Description of the plant:


70 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Dry open places below 1200 metres.

Edible parts of Chia:

Seed - raw or cooked. Usually ground into a powder and used as piäole or made into dark-coloured cakes and loaves, it has a nutty flavour. It can also be mixed with corn meal when making mush or with ground wheat for gruel. Rich in niacin, thiamine, zinc, calcium and manganese, it is also a good source of protein and easily digested fats. It has a high food value and is easily digested. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads and sandwiches. A refreshing drink can be made by steeping the seed in cold water. Alternatively, the seed can be roasted and ground into a powder then mixed with water when it soon becomes a copious gelatinous mass. It is very palatable and nutritious. The seed has been used to render water palatable by removing the alkalis. The leaves are occasionally used as a sage-like seasoning.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow April in situ. The plant dislikes root disturbance. If seed supplies are limited then it can be sown in a pot in a greenhouse in March/April, potted up into individual pots as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle then planted out in May. Germination usually takes 10 - 14 days at 20°C.

Cultivation of Chia:

Dry open places below 1200 metres.

Known hazards of Salvia columbariae:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.