Botanical Source.—Summer savory is an annual plant, with a branching and bushy stem, about 18 inches in height, woody at the base, and frequently changing to purple. The leaves are numerous, small, linear-oblong, entire, and acute at the end. The flowers are pink-colored, and borne on axillary, cymose peduncles. Calyx tubular, ribbed, and about as long as the corolla. Corolla bilabiate, with nearly equal divisions; the stamens are diverging and scarcely exserted (W.).
History, and Chemical Composition.—This well-known plant is a native of the south of Europe, and is extensively cultivated in the gardens of this country and Europe for culinary purposes, flowering in July and August. The leaves are the parts employed. They have an aromatic odor and taste, analogous to those of thyme, and impart their properties to boiling water by infusion, but more freely to alcohol. Its virtues depend upon a volatile oil, which was found by Jahns (1882) to contain carvacrol (30 per cent) and the hydrocarbon, cymol (20 per cent), and an undetermined terpene (50 per cent).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Summer savory is a stimulant, carminative, and emmenagogue. A warm infusion is beneficial in colds, menstrual suppression, and flatulent colic; the cold infusion is a gentle stimulating tonic during convalescence from fevers. The infusion may be used in doses of from 2 to 4 ounces, several times a day. The oil is sometimes used as a local application to carious teeth, for relieving toothache; and its tincture is a valuable carminative.
Related Species.—Satureja montana, Linné (Micromeria montana, Reichenbach). The Winter savory, with mucronate leaves, somewhat 1-sided peduncles, and acuminate and mucronate segments of the calyx, possesses similar properties. Haller examined this plant, in 1882, and obtained an orange-yellow essential oil, having an origanum-like odor. It contained traces of carvacrol (about 35 to 40 per cent) another phenol, and two hydrocarbons, probably terpenes.
Micromeria Douglassii, Bentham.—The Yerba buena of California, is a labiate plant of the tribe Satureineae, closely allied to the common garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris). It is a native of California, and has a slender, creeping, perennial stem. The leaves are opposite, nearly round, and are borne on slender stalks. The flowers are small, purple, and in axillary clusters of from 1 to 3. This plant, it is stated, is not only a febrifuge, but possesses emmenagogue and anthelmintic properties. It is very probable that its virtues are simply those of a stimulating aromatic and tonic, and that its effects are due to these qualities. It may be employed in decoction, or in doses of from 15 to 90 minims of the fluid extract.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.