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Scientific Name(s): Satureja hortensis L. (summer savory), Satureja khuzestanica Jamzad, Satureja macrostema, Satureja montana L. (winter savory), Satureja thymbra
Common Name(s): Mountain savory, Savory, Summer savory, Winter savory

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 21, 2021.

Clinical Overview


In addition to being widely used as a condiment, savory has antispasmodic, antidiarrheal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and chemotherapeutic properties, although data supporting these properties are mostly limited to in vitro and in vivo studies.


Limited clinical evidence is available to support specific doses of savory for therapeutic use.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of savory.


Savory is not associated with any significant toxicity.

Scientific Family

  • Lamiaceae (mint)


The genus Satureja L. contains over 30 species. S. montana contains numerous subspecies, and there is much variability in morphologic characteristics with the species S. montana L. The various species within the genus Satureja hortensis L. are primarily located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region, but can be found throughout many parts of the world. Summer savory is an annual herb with oblong leaves that grow to about 0.7 m in height. Winter savory is a perennial shrub that grows to about the same height; the leaves of winter savory share some common characteristics with summer savory. Flowers of both species are pink to blue-white and flower from June to September.Schauenberg 1990, Simon 1984, Slavkovska 2001, USDA 2016 Synonyms include Calamintha hortensis Hort. (summer savory), and Satureja obovata Lag. and Calamintha montana (winter savory).


The savories have been used for centuries as cooking herbs and have flavors reminiscent of oregano and thyme. Because the flavor of summer savory is somewhat sweeter than that of winter savory, summer savory is used almost exclusively in commerce. The green leaves and stems, both fresh and dried, along with extracts, are used as flavors in the baking and food industries.Duke 2003, Simon 1984 The oil has been reported to possess an antidiuretic effect due to carvacrol.Duke 2003 Teas made with savory have been used traditionally in Europe to treat excessive thirst in diabetic patients, a use that may have some pharmacologic basis.Tyler 1987

Tertiary resources document both summer and winter savory having a history of use in traditional medicine as tonics, carminatives, astringents, and expectorants, and for the treatment of intestinal problems such as diarrhea and nausea. However, the scientific literature primarily documents S. hortensis as a folk remedy in treating various ailments such as cramps, muscle pains, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, and infectious diseases. Tertiary resources also document summer savory as being an aphrodisiac, while winter savory is said to decrease libido.Duke 2003, Schauenberg 1990


Dried summer savory contains approximately 1% of a volatile oil composed primarily of carvacrol, thymol, and monoterpene hydrocarbons such as beta-pinene, p-cymene, limonene, and camphene. The leaves contain a variety of minor components including minerals and vitamins.

Winter savory contains about 1.6% of a volatile oil. Some authors document the dominant components of the oil as caryophyllene and geraniol or as carvacrol. Multiple compounds contained in the oil have been described in several reviews.Hamidpour 2014, Tepe 2016 The major compound was phenolic monoterpene thymol followed by monoterpenic hydrocarbons p-cymene, gamma-terpinene, oxygen-containing compounds carvacrol methyl ether, thymol methyl ether, carvacrol, geraniol, and borneol. It also contains triterpenic acids including ursolic and oleanolic acids. The relative composition of the volatile oil varies with location of cultivation, the species, and the strain.De Vincenzi 2004, Duke 2003, Khan 2009, Radonic 2003, Slavkovska 2001

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

Animal data

S. hortensis polyphenolic fraction was observed to significantly inhibit carrageenan-induced rat paw edema.(Babajafari 2015, Hajhashemi 2002, Uslu 2003) Significant anti-inflammatory effects were also noted with the hydroalcoholic extract and essential oils of S. khuzestanica. Similar anti-inflammatory activity to that of indomethacin was observed in a dose-dependent manner in rats given a single dose of 10 to 150 mg/kg, while the number of mucosal mast cells and inflammatory cells decreased significantly when essential oils were administered at 225 mg/kg for 28 days.(Babajafari 2015)

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of Satureja species as anti-inflammatory agents.

Antimicrobial and antiviral activity

Animal and in vitro data

Extracts of the Satureja plant species have demonstrated antimicrobial activity including antifungal (ie, Aspergillosis, Microsporum) and antiviral activity.(Ciani 2000, Güllüce 2003, Mahmoudvand 2021, Sahin 2003, Yamasaki 1998)

A systematic review identified 7 studies published between 2000 and 2017 that documented activity against Psuedomonas aeruginosa by the essential oils from aerial parts of S. khuzestanica with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) values ranging from 0.31 to 0.45 mcg/mL. Carvacrol was most often noted as the major active component, with concentrations ranging from 53.8 to 97.9%.(Khaledi 2020) Another review identified 13 in vitro and 1 in vivo study reporting activity of S. khuzestanica against P. aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli.(Mahmoudvand 2021) The essential oil from the fresh leaves of S. hortensis has also demonstrated activity against S. aureus with a MIC and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) of 0.125 microL/mL. Biofilm formation was significantly prevented in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.001). Thymol (41.3%) was identified as the most prevalent compound.(Sharifi 2018) S. hortensis leaf essential oil, but not the aqueous or methanol extract, was also found to have significant dose-dependent inhibitory activity against 3 bacteria important in early dental plaque formation: Streptococcus mutans, S. sanguis, and S. salivarius. The 50% essential oil concentration produced similar results to the positive control (tetracycline) against S. mutans and S. salivarius, and was more effective than the positive control (erythromycin) against S. sanguis; respective MICs were 3.125%, 1.5625%, and 1.5625%.(Hagh 2019) The essential oil from winter savory (S. montana L.) was highly effective against oral bacterial pathogens in vitro, including Fusobacterium nucleatum that releases volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) associated with halitosis. The respective MIC and MBC were 0.03% and 0.0625% (v/v) with a dose-dependent reduction of VSCs without negatively affecting cell viability. A significant reduction was also found on biofilm viability.(Ben Lagha 2020)

Antiparasitic activity, mostly against leishmaniasis, has also been documented with S. khuzestanica among 8 in vitro and in vivo studies in another review.(Mahmoudvand 2021)

Clinical data

In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial (n=80), the essential oil of S. hortensis applied as a 1% gel twice daily for 2 weeks reduced candida-related oral lesions.(Sabzghabaee 2012) In a double-blind, randomized comparator trial in 84 reproductive-aged women with confirmed candida vulvovaginitis, S. khuzestanica 1% vaginal cream produced similar results to clotrimazole 1% vaginal cream. Both groups experienced significant improvements in symptoms and complete recovery with no significant difference seen between groups in treatment results or satisfaction.(Jaldani 2021)

Antioxidant activity

Animal studies

Reviews report antioxidant activity for extracts of various Satureja species, based on in vitro and animal studies.(Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Hansani-Ranjbar 2010, Jafari 2016, Safarnavadeh 2011, Tepe 2016)

Clinical data

A small clinical study (n=21) evaluated the effects of 250 mg/day of dried S. khuzestanica leaves administered orally for 60 days to hyperlipidemic patients with type 2 diabetes with a mean age of 50 years. No change in lipid peroxidation compared to baseline levels was reported, while improved total antioxidant power as measured by ferric-reducing ability was found.(Babajafari 2015, Vosough-Ghanbari 2010)


Animal data

Several review articles of animal studies have evaluated the effectiveness of savory species in lowering blood glucose.(Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Jafari 2016, Tepe 2016)

Clinical data

In a small clinical trial (n = 21) conducted in people with type 2 diabetes, 250 mg/day dried leaves of S. khuzestanica given for 60 days produced insignificant changes in blood glucose as compared with baseline indices.(Vosough-Ghanbari 2010)


Animal data

Several review articles of animal studies have evaluated the effectiveness of savory species in dyslipidemia.(Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Hansani-Ranjbar 2010, Jafari 2016)

Clinical data

In a small clinical trial (n = 21) conducted in people with type 2 diabetes, 250 mg/day dried leaves of S. khuzestanica given for 60 days produced significant improvements in low-density lipoprotein-, high density lipoprotein-, and total cholesterol as well as total antioxidant power. Blood glucose, triglycerides, creatinine, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances were not altered.(Vosough-Ghanbari 2010)


In vitro data

S. montana essential oil at a 5 mcL/mL concentration killed 15% of engorged female Rhipicephalus microplus ticks after 7 days of treatment in vitro. Oocyte irregularities were also evident.(Reis 2021) A review also identified reports of pesticidal activity of S. thymbra essential oil with fumigant and repellent action on various insects including the tiger mosquito. The essential oils of S. hortensis, S. montana, and S. thymbra were considered the most promising agents in pest management.(Ebadollahi 2021)

Other uses

Vasodilatory properties have been suggested in limited studies and inhibition of platelet adhesion and aggregation has been reported in a single study.(Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Tepe 2016)

S. hortensis essential oil was shown to reduce ileum contraction and mediate the response of acetylcholine.(Hajhashemi 2000) Furthermore, inhibition of castor oil-induced diarrhea qualitatively similar to dicyclomine were reported.(Hajhashemi 2000, Khan 2009, Simon 1984)

S. montana in combination with other natural products has been evaluated for it's effect on premature ejaculation,(Sansalone 2016) while a review of oral antioxidants in infertility suggests the extracts of savory species may improve sperm quality.(Safarnavadeh 2011)

Cytotoxic activity has been reported based on in vitro studies.(Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Jafari 2016, Tepe 2016)

Significant wound healing in rats has been documented with encapsulated extract of S. khuzistanica alginate hydrogel dressings compared to controls and were better than, but not significantly different from, S. khuzistanica-treated wounds and alginate hydrogel-treated wounds.(Beyranvand 2019)


Limited clinical studies have been conducted on which to provide specific doses of savory for therapeutic use. The herb is widely used in foods as a condiment and seasoning.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented. A single study reported inhibition of platelet aggregation.Babajafari 2015, Hamidpour 2014, Tepe 2016

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of savory.

The oil is strongly irritating in animal skin models, but is not phototoxic.Khan 2009 In diluted form, the oil is not irritating to human skin.


Savory is generally recognized as safe for use as a condiment and flavoring. When applied undiluted to the backs of hairless mice, summer savory oil was lethal to half of the animals within 48 hours.Khan 2009

Index Terms

  • Calamintha hortensis Hort.
  • Calamintha montana
  • Satureja obovata Lag.



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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