What is Savory?
Savory, a delicate, aromatic herb stemming from the mint family is not only a delicious spice commonly employed in the culinary world, but it is also used for medicinal purposes as well.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, savory is commonly used to treat such ailments as gastrointestinal upset, headaches, and cough. To experience its medicinal effects, savory is commonly added to culinary dishes and made into a tea.
History of Savory as a Medicine
Throughout the years, savory has commonly been used in the culinary world and is part of many recipes. A part of the mint family, the flavor of savory is comparable to thyme and oregano.
Both fresh and dry, the leaves and stems of savory are commonly used to spice dishes, while the extract of the herb is also valued for its delicate flavor.
Savory has also been used throughout the history of natural medicine, primarily folk medicine. This medicinal herb has been used as an ingredient in medicine, tonics, expectorants, carminatives, and astringents.
Savory has been documented as a treatment for nausea, diarrhea, and intestinal problems. Sources have also listed savory as a treatment for muscle cramps and indigestion.
Summer Savory Versus Winter Savory
There are different types of savory, the most common two being summer savory and winter savory. Each boast different flavors and unique benefits.
Summer savory (Satureia hortensis) is sweeter and its flavor resembles that of marjoram-it is a dull bronze-green color. Because of its sweeter flavor, it is used more frequently in cuisine. Many cooks used summer savory the way they use sage. Summer savory is a popular addition to spice meats such as duck, goose, sausage, and turkey.
In folk medicine, due to its warming properties, summer savory was commonly used to treat issues of the digestive system. History reveals that summer savory was also commonly used to treat cough and as a remedy for thirst in diabetics.
Winter savory (Satureia montana) is more bitter than summer savory and therefore not used as commonly in the culinary world. Winter savory is dark, shiny green in color. When it is called to action in the kitchen, winter savory is commonly used to spice white sauces, potato salads, and mushrooms.
Winter savory has a pungent flavor, however, the strong flavor abates when cooked. Winter savory can be used to spice meats such as turkey and chicken.
Winter savory is preferred for its medicinal uses. Considered an antibacterial agent, winter savory has been used to treat digestive upset, gas, menstrual disorders, congestion, and cough.
If you are looking for an amorous boost, be careful which version of savory you choose. Summer savory is a known aphrodisiac while winter savory may decrease sex drive.
Both forms of savory are great for spicing pork and beef dishes, as well as great for adding flavor to legumes, broths, sauces, pasta, salads, and mayonnaise.
Savory has been incorporated in some culinary dishes and medicines because of its rich nutritional value. Savory has been found to be a rich source of the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- B-complex vitamins
Savory is a great way to get an added boost of vitamins and minerals while trying to keep your calorie count down, as this herb is calorie-free.
Health Benefits of Savory
Used in a health tonic and medicinal tea or maybe even used as a healthy accouterment to your next meal, savory may provide you with some of the following health benefits:
1) Anti-Septic and Anti-fungal
The leaves of savory have been found to contain such medicinal essential volatile oils as carvacrol and thymol. Thymol is an anti-septic and anti-fungal agent, making it a great way to fight and prevent the spread of fungal infections. Carvacrol, meanwhile, is an antibacterial agent, effective in fighting such bacterial strains as Bacillus cereus and E coli.
2) Vitamins and Minerals
Rich in vitamins and minerals, savory has been found to help keep the body up and running. Savory contains potassium, which is essential to moderating blood pressure and keeping the heart healthy. The iron content in savory encourages the development of blood cells, while zinc and vitamin C helps boost the immune systems.
3) Prebiotic and Rich in Fiber
Savory is a source of dietary fiber. It’s important to get enough fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Fiber is also essential to helping reduce bad LDL cholesterol while helping to boost good HDL cholesterol. Fiber is also an important prebiotic that helps nurture good gut flora.
4) Digestive Aid
When consumed as a tea, savory can help calm digestive upset, headaches, and sore throat. Due to its antiseptic properties, drinking savory tea may help improve the functioning of the liver and kidneys.
5) Fights inflammation
In its concentrated oil form, the powerful medicinal effects of savory oil may help treat rheumatism, gout, headaches, and nausea.
Some Considerations and Potential Side Effects
Before taking savory for any medicinal purpose, it’s advised to speak to your physician. Savory is considered generally safe, but before taking savory, please consider the following tips:
- There is currently no strong scientific evidence backing up the claims of savory and therefore should not be used as a substitute for traditional medicine.
- Due to lack of rigorous scientific testing, it is currently not known if savory is safe for the use of children, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding.
- Savory might slow the blood clotting process and therefore should not be used two weeks before and after recovering from surgery
- Savory should be avoided if you are currently taking blood-thinning medications, as savory interferes with the clotting process.
- Summer savory oil is extremely irritating to skin and should not be used directly on the skin. If using savory oil on the skin, always dilute it with a carrier oil.