Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Herb Profile

Oregano or oreganos as some call it, is a perennial herb that has many benefits. The plant is approximately 50 cm tall, and its purple leaves are 2 to 3 cm long. Its scientific name is Origanum vulgare.

For thousands of years, oregano has been proven valuable in both medicinal treatment and culinary use.

It is native to the Mediterranean area, and it is closely related to mint. Its genus is in the same family as mentha.

The part of the plant that is used most is the leaves. Oregano is unusual because it has a better flavor and aroma when it is dried rather than when the leaves are fresh.

Its unique and pleasant smell is from carvacrol, ocimene, pinene, limonene, caryophyllene, and thymol.

Throughout the years, oregano has developed a popular following. From Australia to Egypt, it serves as an effective treatment for many ailments as it contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Origanum vulgare has many potent ingredients which have been deeply studied. Since it is so potent, it must always be diluted.

This herb is used to flavor many foods such as pizza, vegetables, soups, salads, pasta, and sauces.

Oregano Health Benefits

Listed below are a variety of health benefits that come from oregano.

1. Antibacterial Properties

Due to thymol and carvacrol, Origanum vulgare compounds can defend the immune system against harmful bacteria. Some of the bacteria include that which affects the gut, the skin, and other areas of the body.

Since oregano is a slightly stimulating agent, it can increase white blood cell production and speed up the metabolism. This results in a more rapid recovery from various illnesses. [R]

The essential oils contained in Origanum vulgare are effective against 41 strains of Listeria monocytogenes, a known food pathogen.

Some medical teams have reported oregano as a possible source of protection against MRSA, the hospital superbug. [R]

2. Improves Immunity

Rosmarinic acid and thymol, components of oregano, have powerful antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress can be reduced in the body by using this herb.

Free radicals are destructive products that come from cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and chronic illnesses. Using oregano with your meals can keep your body safe from these dangers. [R]

Oregano has been used to treat headaches, sore throat, allergies, sinus infections, and colds. These irritating symptoms can lead to other serious illnesses.

Using this herb can keep you well which prevents you from having to make numerous doctor visits and take synthetic medications.

3. Heart Health Improvement

Origanum vulgare is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids rebalance cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular system inflammation which will prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Adding oregano to your diet or using it as an essential oil can protect and maintain heart health. [R]

4. Digestion Aid

Packed with fiber, oregano can have a positive impact on your digestive system. Fiber in your diet is vital to a healthy digestive system.

Peristaltic motion is stimulated by fiber, and gut health is increased and maintain causing the food you eat to give you more benefits. [R]

Protecting against intestinal parasites and bloating, your digestive health is further boosted with the use of oregano with its fiber qualities.

Diarrhea and constipation are prevented which balances the digestive system.

In addition to these benefits, oregano is a preventative treatment for stomach flu since it contains properties that boost your immunity. [R]

5. Improves Bone Health

Manganese, iron, and calcium are needed in our bodies, and as we get older, we tend to lose certain levels of these minerals. The negative result of this is that our bones can become weaker.

Oregano has significant amounts of manganese, iron, and calcium. Having it in our diet can prevent osteoporosis which is one of the effects of losing minerals as you age. [R]

6. Rids the Body of Toxins

In addition to being rich in manganese, iron, and calcium, oregano is rich in Vitamin K. These vitamins and minerals are essential to detoxifying the body.

Origanum vulgare enhances liver function and speeds up the process of eliminating toxins. One teaspoon can give you up to 8% of the Vitamin K you need in one day. [R]

7. Protection from Cancer

Medical research has suggested that oregano demonstrates anti-cancer activity. Some scientists have stated that the Origanum majorana can slow and prevent the progression of breast cancer.

Indian physicians found oregano to be effective against colorectal cancer. Other cancers that oregano has been effective against are leukemia and brain cancer. [R][R]

The herb has been proven to have anti-mutagenic effects. Genetic material is altered through a mutagen, such as DNA, which leads to cancer.

Oregano suppresses the mutagens. Carvacrol, which is in oregano, is said to help protect delicate tissue, such as kidney tissue, from toxicity. [R]

8. Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Origanum vulgare contains compounds that can help manage type 2 diabetes. Some studies have indicated that the management of type 2 diabetes through oregano has been as effective as medication.

Experts have claimed that oregano safely lowers the blood sugar. [R]

9. Relief from Menstrual Cramps

Women can experience menstrual cramps in the legs, back, and stomach. Because oregano has pain-relieving properties, it can relieve menstrual cramps.

Some health experts recommend chewing the leaves when experiencing cramps. Oregano has been said to relieve menopausal symptoms and prevent the early onset of menopause.

10. Helps with Acne

Oregano is helpful with acne and other skin ailments because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Experts recommend that you dilute the oil before use since the phenol content can cause issues for sensitive skin.

One teaspoon of aloe vera gel along with 2 to 3 drops of oregano should be combined and applied to problem areas with a cotton ball. Avoid areas where the skin is broken. [R]

11. Oral Health

Bacteria, bad breath, plaque, toothaches, and even periodontal disease can be alleviated through oregano. One drop of oregano should be added to your toothpaste.

Another option is to combine 1 to 2 drops of oregano with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, then, swish the contents in your mouth.

How to Use

There are numerous ways to prepare oregano for use to take advantage of the variety of health benefits it offers.

Oregano can be applied to various areas of the body to treat certain types of infection. It can also be mixed with water and coconut oil to be used as a natural antibiotic.

For sinus infections, it can be diluted in water to drink. Origanum vulgare can be used as a spice and applied to various foods and eaten.

The following are some detailed preparations and uses for this medicinal herb.

1. Barbecued and Grilled Meats

Fresh or dried oregano can be applied directly to meats as they are being grilled or barbecued. Animal proteins can produce free radicals as they are being cooked.

Not only will oregano buffer these negative effects, but it will also improve the flavor of the meat.

When using oregano with meats, it is important to understand the difference between fresh and dried. The type of oregano you use on your meats will depend upon the flavor you prefer.

The flavor of most herbs intensifies as they are dried. When using oregano, the flavor is more bitter when it is dry.

The fresh leaves have a less bitter flavor. If you use too much of the dried oregano, you could have a bitter flavor when eating your grilled meats.

Keep in mind that other herbs or spices that you add can make flavor alterations as well.

2. Salads

Both fresh and dried can be used in various salads. It is recommended that salt and pepper be put with one teaspoon of dried oregano in some salads.

Dried oregano works well with tomatoes and various types of cheeses along with olive oil.

If fresh oregano is being used in a salad, it is recommended that plenty of green vegetables be used as well as salt and pepper.

Olives and olive oil work well with fresh oregano too. If you love meat in your salad, grilled chicken will taste great with the fresh herb.

3. Soups, Stews, and Bone Broths

Dried or fresh oregano can be used in soups, stews, and bone broth. Most herbs should be added at the beginning of the cooking process, but the fresh herb should be added toward the end.

Adding it at this point will prevent the leaves from being overly cooked. Dried oregano can be added earlier in during the process.

4. Essential Oil for Ear, Nose and Throat Infections

When using oregano essential oil in water, place 1 to 3 small drops in your water.

Drinking the right amount of the essential oil in our water can serve as prevention or therapy for respiratory infections and sore throats.

If you are using the essential oil for ear infections, place 1 to 3 drops in your hand and rub it around the outer region of the ear.

5. Essential Oil for Oral Health

When using oregano essential oil to maintain or improve oral health, place 1 to 2 drops of the oil along with a one-half teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth. Rinse for several minutes before spitting.

Using the essential oil in this manner will decrease the likelihood of cavities and gingivitis. If you already have oral health issues, the use of the oil can improve your condition.

6. Household Cleaner

Many people are concerned about the use of chemical cleaners in their homes. The health of some people has been put at risk due to exposure to chemicals in household cleaner.

You will be relieved to know that oreganos essential oil can be safely combined with water and white vinegar, or, water and hydrogen peroxide to be used for cleaning.

7. Burns, Wounds, Acne, and Warts

For a disinfectant and first aid treatment for burns and wounds, apply a drop of oregano oil with coconut oil, or another carrier oil to the affected area.

Acne and warts can be treated by dipping a Q-tip in oregano oil and applying the Q-tip directly to the acne or warts.

Applying the oil in this manner will reduce both bacteria and inflammation.

8. Hand and Laundry Sanitizer

Many people prefer a more natural method of hand sanitation. Often, good bacteria will be removed with some hand sanitizers.

Ten drops of oregano oil combined with two tablespoons of coconut oil will provide a natural sanitizer for you to rub on your hands.

Adding a few drops of the oil to your clothes while they are in the process of being washed will provide a pleasing aroma to your clothes.

Caution/Side Effects

Since oregano is extremely potent, it is important to be aware of the necessary precautions you should take before use.

1. Allergies/Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

People who are allergic to plants in the Lamiaceae family should not use oregano. A mild to severe reaction could result.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before using. Insufficient research is available concerning pregnant and breastfeeding women and the use of Origanum vulgare. [R]

2. Surgery and Bleeding Disorders

If you are facing any type of surgery, or, you have a bleeding disorder, use oreganos cautiously. Bleeding can be increased in these cases.

If you plan on having surgery, this herb should not be used at least two weeks before your procedure.

Inform your doctor that you have been using oreganos to avoid any complications.

3. Drug Interactions

Lithium has been known to interact with this herb. Sometimes, the herb can have the same effects as a diuretic.

The way your body rids itself of lithium can be hindered with the use of oregano resulting in serious side effects.

If you take lithium, it is highly recommended that you consult a physician before using it. It is possible that your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Where to Buy

Oregano in its various forms is not difficult to find. Most supermarkets and health food stores have both fresh and dried forms. The essential oil can be purchased in health food stores as well.

Online stores such as Amazon and Puritan’s Pride carry oregano in dry form and essential oil.

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