10 Savory Oil Benefits That Science Has Proved

Did you know that the Romans & Greeks cultivated savory primarily for cooking? Well, yes. They used it to enhance the flavor of their soups, meats, and stuffing. They used it to treat indigestion as well. However, this isn’t it. The savory oil benefits are much beyond.

Let’s understand this in detail.

What is Savory Oil?

what is savory essential oil

Winter savory oil is one of the most popular essential oils, which is well known for its flavor and other uses like food preservation, fighting infections, and promoting overall health.

Savory essential oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves of Satureja montana through the process of steam distillation. (1)

It is a shrubby perennial herb, which belongs to the family Lamiaceae. The leaves are lance-shaped and has clusters of pinkish-white flowers.

It is also known as Mountain Savory, White Thyme, or Winter Savory. The plant has originated from France.

Scientific Name of Savory Oil

The botanical name of savory is Satureja montana.

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History of Savory Oil

Mountain savory has gained popularity in recent years. It is a perennial herb, which lives for more than two years.

You can see these plants widely growing in Europe, North Africa, Turkey, and Russia. Scientifically it belongs to the family Lamiaceae, subfamily Nepetoidae, and tribe Mentheae.

Winter savory is a well-known aromatic plant and spice. The plant grows to a height of 5 - 16 inches.  It has dark green needle-shaped leaves, which have a texture of leather. The flowers are small and bloom from July to October.

The plant can endure dry climate conditions and can even adapt to other climatic conditions. The leaves of the plant help to treat insect bites and bee stings, when applied in the form of a poultice.

It is popular in Mediterranean cooking, mainly as a seasoning for meat and a flavoring agent for soups, canned meats, sausages, and spicy sauces. (2)

Winter savory oil is extracted via steam and hydro distillation. The therapeutic properties of savory essential oil make it useful for various medical conditions. The composition of oil varies based on the geographical conditions, which in turn decide its medicinal use.

Color, consistency, and Smell of Savory Oil

  • The color of savory oil is pale.
  • The consistency of savory oil is thin to medium.
  • The smell of savory oil is slightly sweet and pepper – much similar to thyme & oregano oil.

Properties of Savory Essential Oil

  • Antioxidant – Inhibits oxidation process and prevents diseases
  • Antiseptic - Prevents infections
  • Antibacterial - Fights against bacteria
  • Anti-inflammatory – Reduces redness, pain, and swelling
  • Antifungal – Overcomes fungal infections
  • Immunostimulant - Boosts your immune system
  • Circulatory - Enhances your blood circulation
  • Tonic - Boosts your overall wellbeing
  • Carminative – Relieves gas
  • Cytotoxic – Effective against cancer cells
  • Aromatic – Has a soothing and pleasant smell
  • Antidandruff – Gets rid of dandruff
  • Digestive - Improves digestion
  • Expectorant - Relieves congestion by helping you spit sputum 
  • Anti-colic - Relieves colic pain
  • Anti-diarrheal - Fights diarrhea by attacking the responsible bacteria
  • Antidiuretic – Controls fluid balance in the body

Besides the above, the other important properties include:

  • Relieves acne and pimples
  • Heals oral infections
  • Improves your hair health
  • Eases inflammation of joints
  • Relieves muscle aches
  • Soothes bee stings and insect bites
  • Helps you fight cold and severe form of cold like bronchitis & sinusitis

Chemical Compounds in Savory Oil

The primary compounds in winter savory essential oil include: (3)

Thymol, P-cymene, Linalool, Carvacrol, G-terpinene, Carvacrol methyl ether, A-terpinene, Geraniol, Nerol, A-thujene, Myrcene, A-Thujene, A-Pinene, Myrcene, A-Terpinene, Limonene, G-Terpinene, P-Cymene, Allo-Ocimene, 1-Octen-3-ol, Trans-Sabinene hydrate, Camphor, B-Bourbonene, Linalool, Thymol methyl ether, Carvacrol methyl ether, B-Caryophyllene, Aromadendrene, A-Humulene, Neral, A-Terpineol, Borneol, B-Cubebene, Geranial, B-Bisabolene, Geranyl acetate, D-Cadinene, Nerol, Geraniol, Thymyl acetate, Caryophyllene oxide, Spathulenol, Thymol, and Carvacrol.

benefits of savory essential oil

Health Benefits of Savory Oil

Though winter savory oil benefits are numerous, the most noteworthy ones proved by different studies in recent years include:

  • Preserves food naturally
  • Prevents diarrhea
  • A potent cytotoxic
  • An effective antidiuretic
  • Fights nerve diseases
  • Treats fungal infections
  • Effective against virus
  • Fortified with antioxidants
  • Fights resistant bacteria
  • Heals wounds

1. Preserves food naturally

S.montana essential oil is useful as a food preservative. It has been traditionally used to increase the shelf life of products. A recent research states that mountain savory oil is effective against food spoilage organisms like Listeria monocytogenes & B. cereus.

Another research published in 2012 talks about the role played by S.montana oil in preserving processed meat.

Processed meats are great ways to consume the recommended amount of daily protein intake, but they do have nitrites, which give them additional advantages such as:

  • Giving the cured meat flavor
  • Preventing rancid flavors
  • Preventing lipid oxidation
  • Giving the characteristic pink color to cured meat by producing nitrosylhemochrome after reacting with myoglobin
  • Preventing the growth of bacteria especially Clostridium species

But the high nitrate content poses various health risks such as vasodilator (dilating blood vessels), allergic effects, and other health hazards. Thus, nitrates should be avoided or should be consumed as minimal as possible. Other synthetic preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and TBHQ pose health risks too.

Savory essential oil is a natural preservative and is in high demand, especially because consumers are educated and aware f things now. Hence, they look for natural preservatives.

LWT, Food & Science Technology, 2012, talks about a study where the researchers assessed the effect of adding Satureja Montana oil to mortadella-type sausages formulated with sodium nitrite.

They added the oil at different concentrations - 7.80, 15.60, 31.25 μl/g and sodium nitrite at varied concentrations such as 0, 100, and 200 mg/kg to mortadella-type sausages and stored them at 25 °C for 30 days.

The study concluded that adding savory oil up to 15.60 μl/g with a minimum dose of nitrite at 100 mg/kg or lower helps in minimizing health hazards. Also, at the minimal dosage of nitrite, you will be able to reap its benefits such as the characteristic red color of meat. (4, 5)

2. Prevents diarrhea

Savory EO fights enteric pathogens (microorganisms that disrupt your digestive health) such as Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium, Plesiomonas shigelloides, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Yersinia enterocolitica.

Diarrhea, a symptom of enteric infection is a major cause of hospitalization and death worldwide. About 4 million patients die of diarrhea every year.

However, savory essential oil prevents the colonization of bacteria, lessens the effects of toxins and the chances of inflammation.

A paper published in the Pharmaceutical Biology talks about the effects of Satureja Montana essential oil on enteric tract (digestive infections). The researchers studied the impact of the oil via a modified agar dilution assay.

The oil had 0.02 to 0.64% inhibitory properties with maximum effects on E. coli & Sh. Flexneri. The results provide a vital clue to the therapeutic potential of Satureja Montana oil in treating enteric tract infections.

The Satureja Montana EO is active against all the 6 tested strains. MIC was 0.02%, and MBC was 0.04%.

*MIC is the concentration at which the oil inhibits the action of more than 90% of bacteria.

*MBC is the concentration at which the oil kills bacteria.

Thanks to its compounds carvacrol and thymol. Another paper states that the oil is effective against Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus. (6, 7) 

3. A potent cytotoxic

Cancer is a deadly disease where abnormal cells grow and don’t die. They keep spreading to other parts of the body.

Mountain savory essential oil fights against tumor cells, especially A549 (or lung cancer cell lines). The researchers tested the activity of the oil via MTT assay on the human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cell lines.

Another study reports that this oil is also effective on human erythroleukemic (blood cancer) K562 cells. (8, 9, 10)

4. An effective antidiuretic

Winter savory essential oil helps you to prevent diuresis.

*Diuresis - Passing excess urine.

A paper published in 1993 in the Phytotherapy Research mentions about a research conducted on the effects of S.Montana oil on diuresis.

The researchers administered 5 ml of oil /100 g of body weight to rats that had diuresis. After 5 hours of administration, there was a decrease in diuresis. The research concluded that 0.1% solution was a therapeutic dose whereas, at higher doses, it caused toxic symptoms. (11)

5. Fights nerve diseases

According to a paper published in 2013 in the Central European Journal of Biology, winter savory oil inhibits the action of serum cholinesterase.

Cholinesterase worsens nerve diseases, and this is a known fact. By fighting its action, the essential oil helps in dealing with many nerve diseases. (12)

6. Treats fungal infections

Mountain savory essential oil has fungicidal properties. It fights against fungi such as Candida albicans effectively.

Clotrimazole is a proven antifungal agent. A paper published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology in the year 2016 states that mountain savory EO is more effective than clotrimazole.

A study was conducted on 30 different strains of Candida albicans, which were from the vaginal infection. The study assessed the efficacy of the oil via the agar disc diffusion method and confirmed that the oil inhibits the activity as well as the growth of Candida albicans effectively.

The essential oil exerts its effects at the cellular level, affecting the fungus cell wall and the membranes.

Thanks to alcohols and phenols present in the oil. (13)

*Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen, which causes the majority of yeast infections.

*Opportunistic pathogen is something that exists in your body but turns dangerous and causes diseases only when there is a disturbance like reduced immunity.

7. Effective against virus

Winter savory EO is an effective antiviral agent. The common cold is one of the most common viral infections we witness.

Winter savory essential oil is well known for easing cold for centuries. The oil has an expectorant action, which helps in relieving thick sputum and blockage.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, the essential oil also reduces the swelling, redness, and pain in mucus membranes and eases your aches. You can inhale the oil via steam or inhale it a few times directly from the bottle. But it is better to diffuse to leverage its health benefits. (14)

8. Fortified with antioxidants

Savory essential oil is a powerful antioxidant.

Oxidation is a dangerous process, which results in disease-causing free radicals, but the EO neutralizes them.

A research published in the Journal of Chemistry assessed the antioxidant effects of S.Montana essential oil via DPPH radical method. It states that at a concentration of IC50 (μg/mL), the oil inhibits up to 50% of radicals.

The oil has better antioxidant action than the standard antioxidant ascorbic acid, especially in inhibiting the activity of oxidant, peroxynitrite. (15, 16, 17)

9. Fights resistant bacteria

Besides curing diseases, antibiotics have also given birth to resistant bacteria. The good news is that savory oil fights different resistant bacteria. (18)

*Resistant bacteria are the ones that do not respond to antibiotics. They are dangerous as we cannot control the disease progression but they don’t tend to.

10. Heals wounds

Mountain savory oil heals your wounds by preventing infection and boosting circulation. This, in turn, helps in healing. This is mainly due to its anti-inflammatory properties. (19)

What Blends with Savory Oil?

Savory oil blends the best with:

How To Use Savory Oil?

how to use savory essential oil

  • Aromatherapy: The best way to use the oil is to diffuse it using a diffuser and inhale its aromatic compounds.
  • Topical Application: Dilute 4 -5 drops of savory essential oil by mixing it with 2-3 tablespoons of carrier oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil. You can use this mixture for a massage. You can also mix it with honey or olive oil and use it as a body toner.
  • Treat Cold: To treat a cold and severe form of cold, inhale the oil with steam. Boil sufficient water in a vessel and keep it in a sink or at a convenient place. Add a few drops of savory oil to the steaming water. Cover the upper half of your body with a thick towel and inhale the steam as long as you can. When you cannot tolerate heat, take a break for a few seconds, and inhale the steam again as long as you can.
  • Mouthwash: You can use the oil as a mouthwash to cure all kinds of mouth infections. Add a couple of drops of mountain savory oil to a glass of water and rinse your mouth thoroughly. Make sure you do not ingest any of it.
  • For Dry Hair: To bring dull and lifeless hair back to life, just add a few drops of oil to your conditioner as well as shampoo.
  • Body Pain: To ease your muscle aches and joint pains, mix a few drops of oil with a carrier oil and massage on to the affected area. Massage the diluted oil over your entire body to boost your blood circulation and enhance immunity.
  • Insect Bites: Apply the diluted oil over your insect bites and stings. The oil eases inflammation and prevents infection.
  • Bath: Add a few drops of oil to your bath water for a calming bath.
  • Ingestion: Never ingest the oil however little.

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Side Effects of Savory Oil

  • Remember to talk to your doctor before you start using any essential oil, especially if you are nursing/pregnant/have any disease/on any medication/a senior citizen. Do not use this oil on kids.
  • Try a patch test before you start using the oil. Apply a small portion of diluted oil with the help of the tip of a cotton bud to the inside of your forearm and observe for 10-15 minutes. If you do not see swelling, redness, or itching, the oil is safe for you.
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