Satureja hortensis

Satureja hortensis 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Summer savory, garden savory

Original Habitat

Summer savory is an annual plant that has small white to pale pink aromatic flowers. S. hortensis is from the mint genus and is used in cooking, as a flavouring agent. Summer Savory is not to be confused with winter savory (Satureia montana), which is a perennial. The plant is native to Europe are thrives in warm regions such as the Mediterranean.

Plant Part Used

Flowering Tops


The essential oil of S. hortensis is used in some foods and beverages, and less often in the fragrance industry though it is found in some soaps and herbaceous blends.[1] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is primarily used as a single oil as a topical antiseptic and in formulations for condition specific use.


This thin oil ranges from yellow to dark brown in colour and is very aromatic with strong spicy notes.[2]

Chemical Constituents

Terpenes: Gamma terpinene (20%), mycrene (2%), paracymene (7%)
Phenols: Carvacrol (35-40%)
Sesquiterpenes, terpenic alcohols [3][4][5]

Medicinal Uses

Antibacterial with a wide range of uses +++
Antiviral, fungicidal, anti-parasitic +++
General toner, stimulant, energizer ++
CNS stimulant ++

Antimicrobial: In a laboratory setting, S. hortensis essential oil was found to demonstrate activity against 23 strains of bacteria and 15 fungal yeast species.[5]

Antibacterial: S. hortensis essential oil has been shown to be antibacterial in a periodontal setting, but only in higher dosages.[6]

Antifungal: In vitro testing of S. hortensis against Aspergillus flavus showed that this oil had favourable antifungal activity, and could be used as an “eco-friendly” fungicide.[7] Another study found this oil inhibited aflatoxins B1 (AFB1) and G1 (AFG1) produced by an Aspergillus strain.[3]

Antioxidant: Summer savory oil inhibited oxidative damage in animal lymphocytes produced by hydrogen peroxide.[8]

Antinociceptive: S. hortensis essential oil was used in an animal model against inflammation and pain.  The results showed that the oil possessed antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in induced injuries in mice.[9]

 Spasmolytic: S. hortensis essential oil was shown to have anti-diarrheal activity in mice with castor oil induced diarrhea. In addition, antispasmodic properties in rat isolated ileum were also recorded during this study indicating a potential use as an antispasmodic in gastrointestinal disorders.[10]

Traditional Use

Bacterial, viral and mycotic infections in all areas +++

Hypertension, fatigue and asthenia +++

Clinical studies on the essential oil of this species are presently lacking.

Contraindications and Precautions

This oil may cause sensitivity and should not be applied directly to the skin.

Do not use with pregnant or nursing women.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


  1. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
  2. Institute of Medicine. Food chemicals codex. National Academies Press; 2003.
  3. Razzaghi-Abyaneh M. Inhibitory effects of Satureja hortensis L. essential oil on growth and aflatoxin production by Aspergillus parasiticus. Int J Food Microbiol. 30 Apr2008;123(3):228-233.
  4. Lampronti I. Antiproliferative activity of essential oils derived from plants belonging to the Magnoliophyta division. Int J Oncol. Oct2006;29(4):989-995.
  5. Güllüce M. In vitro antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activities of the essential oil and methanol extracts of herbal parts and callus cultures of Satureja hortensis L. J Agric Food Chem. 2 Jul2003;51(14):3958-3965.
  6. Gursoy UK. Anti-biofilm properties of Satureja hortensis L. essential oil against periodontal pathogens. Anaerobe. 11 Mar2009.
  7. Dikbas N. Control of Aspergillus flavus with essential oil and methanol extract of Satureja hortensis. Int J Food Microbiol. 31 May2008;124(2):179-182.
  8. Mosaffa F. Antigenotoxic effects of Satureja hortensis L. on rat lymphocytes exposed to oxidative stress. Arch Pharm Res. Feb2006;29(2):159-164.
  9. Hajhashemi V. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of Satureja hortensis L. extracts and essential oil. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct2002;82(2-3):83-87.
  10. Hajhashemi V. Antispasmodic and anti-diarrhoeal effect of Satureja hortensis L. essential oil. J Ethnopharmacol. Jul2000;71(1-2):187-192.