Summer Savory: Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, and Dosing

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Summer Savory: A Culinary and Medicinal Herb


Summer savory (Satureja hortensis), a member of the mint family, is an aromatic herb native to the Mediterranean region. It is widely used in cooking as a flavorful seasoning, but traditional medicine also values its medicinal properties. This article delves into the various uses, side effects, precautions, and dosing guidelines of this multifaceted herb.

Culinary Uses

Summer savory’s pungent, peppery flavor makes it a versatile culinary ingredient. In European cuisine, it is commonly used to season beans, stews, soups, and meats. It adds a delightful aroma and depth of flavor to dishes. Summer savory also finds its place in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, where it is used to flavor fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes.

Medicinal Properties

Traditional medicine has a long history of using summer savory for its alleged health benefits. These include:

  • Digestive Health: Summer savory is said to promote digestion and relieve stomach ailments such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. Its carminative properties help expel gas and reduce abdominal discomfort.
  • Antimicrobial Activity: Studies have shown that summer savory extract has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It may inhibit the growth of microorganisms that contribute to infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Summer savory contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. It may help reduce inflammation in the body, alleviating symptoms associated with conditions like arthritis and gout.
  • Respiratory Health: The volatile oils in summer savory have decongestant properties. They may help clear nasal passages and relieve respiratory symptoms such as congestion and cough.
  • Menstrual Cramps: Some research suggests that summer savory may have antispasmodic properties that can alleviate menstrual cramps.

Active Compounds

Summer savory’s medicinal properties are attributed to its unique blend of active compounds, including:

  • Thymol: A potent antibacterial and antifungal agent
  • Carvacrol: Another antimicrobial compound with antioxidant properties
  • Rosmarinic Acid: An anti-inflammatory compound
  • Linalool: A volatile oil with decongestant and calming effects

Forms and Preparations

Summer savory is available in various forms:

  • Fresh Herbs: Fresh summer savory leaves can be added to dishes or used to make infusions and teas.
  • Dried Herbs: Dried summer savory is a convenient way to add flavor to dishes. It retains most of the herb’s medicinal properties.
  • Essential Oil: Summer savory essential oil is highly concentrated and can be used in aromatherapy or diluted for topical applications.
  • Tinctures: Liquid extracts of summer savory contain its active compounds and can be taken orally.

Precautions and Side Effects

While generally safe, summer savory should be used with caution and at appropriate doses to avoid potential side effects.

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Summer savory is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to its potential to stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to summer savory or other members of the mint family.
  • Drug Interactions: Summer savory may interact with certain medications, such as anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs.
  • High Blood Pressure: Summer savory may increase blood pressure in some individuals.
  • Liver and Kidney Issues: Individuals with liver or kidney problems should exercise caution when using summer savory as it may overtax these organs.


Appropriate doses of summer savory vary depending on the form and purpose of use.

  • Fresh Herbs: 1-2 teaspoons of chopped fresh leaves can be added to dishes.
  • Dried Herbs: 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs can be used in cooking.
  • Essential Oil: A few drops of essential oil can be diffused or diluted in a carrier oil for topical applications.
  • Tinctures: Follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using summer savory or any herbal remedy, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.


Summer savory is a versatile herb with both culinary and medicinal applications. Its pungent flavor enhances dishes, while its active compounds may provide potential health benefits. However, it is essential to use summer savory responsibly and with caution, adhering to appropriate dosing guidelines and considering any potential precautions or side effects. By incorporating this flavorful and potentially beneficial herb into your diet or health regimen, you can harness its culinary and medicinal offerings in a safe and effective manner.

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