Scientific Names of Summer Savory: Satureja hortensis L. [Fam. Lamiaceae]

Summer savory leaf tea; Alcohol and aqueous extracts of summer savory

Traditional Usage:
– Amenorrhea

– Antibacterial

– Antifungal

– Antiseptic (externally)

– Antispasmodic

– Antiviral

– Aphrodisiac

– Breathing Disorders

– Bronchitis

– Carminative

– Cough

– Cold

– Colic

– Cramps (Digestive)

– Diarrhea

– Digestive Disorders

– Dysentry

– Dyspepsia

– Ear Drops

– Expectorant

– Eye Wash

– Flatulence

– Gastrointestinal Disorders

– Insect Stings and Bites

– Intestinal Antiseptic

– Lethargy

– Menstrual Disorders

– Nervous Disorders

– Poultice

– Stomachaches

Summer savory, Satureja hortensis L. [Fam. Lamiaceae], is a popular culinary herb used around the world, often used by Europeans in bean dishes to prevent gas. Savory is valued for its aromatic oil similar to other mint family plants including marjoram, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, peppermint, spearmint, pennyroyal and lavender. Summer savory tea was traditionally used in Europe as a medicine for expelling tough phlegm from the chest and lungs, and also for quickening dull spirits in lethargy (through nasal inhalation of the aromatic juice). Savory can also be used against digestive disorders including colic, diarrhea, flatulence and dyspepsia. Satureja hortensis L. is used in the traditional medicine of Iran for treating stomach and intestinal disorders. The antispasmodic activity of S. hortensis essential oil (SHEO) was assessed on contractions of isolated ileum from rats and compared with the effect of atropine and dicyclomine. This study found that SHEO is a relaxant or antispasmodic and inhibited castor oil induced diarrhea in mice. As the inhibition of contractile over-activity of the ileum is the basis of treatment of several different gastrointestinal disorders including colic, SHEO can be recommended for the treatment of these conditions. In European folk tradition, summer savory leaf tea was also used as an antispasmodic for treating menstrual disorders and cramps and had a reputation as being an aphrodisiac. Summer savory contains several strong antimicrobial compounds against viral, bacterial, fungal and yeast infections and can be used both internally against infections as well as externally on wounds, bites and stings. The aqueous extract of closely related Satureja montana has documented potent anti-HIV-1 activity and Satureja boliviana has antiviral activity against both herpes simplex type I (HSV-1) and stomatitis virus (VSV). A monoterpene found in summer savory oil called geraniol also has tremendous activity for inhibiting abnormal growths.

Active Ingredients:
Summer savory leaves and oil contain: essential oil containing several monoterpenes including geraniol. There are also many tannins, flavonoids and triterpenes in the leaves. The four known homologues of tocopherol, alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-, are also found in the plant but the concentration of the gamma-homologue is significantly higher. Total tocopherol content ranges from 288 ppm to 672 ppm.

Suggested Amount:
Based on Culpeper’s Color Herbal (1983), the famous European herbalist-physician of the seventeenth century, Nicholas Culpeper, recommends that summer savory be taken as a tea with the recommended dosage of a cold or moderately hot cup of tea taken three to five times a day or as required. The infusion of coarsely cut or powdered, dried tops is made using 1oz (28g) of herb material to 1 pint of boiling water (ca. 568 ml). The boiling water is poured over the herb material and extracted for 10 minutes. For poultices and washes, a 5% infusion is recommended.

Drug Interactions:
None known

None known

Side Effects:
None known


Abad MJ, Bermejo P, Gonzales E, Iglesias I, Irurzun A, Carrasco L. 1999. Antiviral activity of Bolivian plant extracts. Gen Pharmacol. 1999 Apr; 32(4): 499-503.

Carnesecchi S, Schneider Y, Ceraline J, Duranton B, Gosse F, Seiler N, Raul F. 2001. Geraniol, a component of plant essential oils, inhibits growth and polyamine biosynthesis in human colon cancer cells. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2001 Jul; 298(1): 197-200.

Crowell PL. 1999. Prevention and therapy of cancer by dietary monoterpenes. J Nutr. 1999 Mar; 129(3): 775S-778S. Review.

Hajhashemi V, Sadraei H, Ghannadi AR, Mohseni M. 2000. Antispasmodic and anti-diarrhoeal effect of Satureja hortensis L. essential oil. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Jul; 71(1-2): 187-92.

Yamasaki K, Nakano M, Kawahata T, Mori H, Otake T, Ueba N, Oishi I, Inami R, Yamane M, Nakamura M, Murata H, Nakanishi T. 1998. Anti-HIV-1 activity of herbs in Labiatae. Biol Pharm Bull. 1998 Aug; 21(8): 829-33.