Scientific Name(s): Satureja hortensis L. (summer savory), Satureja khuzestanica, Satureja macrostema, Satureja montana L. (winter savory), Satureja thymbra
Common Name(s): Savory, Summer savory, Winter savory
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
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
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of Satureja species as anti-inflammatory agents.
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
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
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
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
Extracts of the Satureja plant species have demonstrated antimicrobial activity including antifungal and antiviral activity.Ciani 2000, Güllüce 2003, Sahin 2003, Yamasaki 1998 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 was observed to reduce candida-related oral lesions.Sabzghabaee 2012
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
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.
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
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