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What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?

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Robert writes articles about emerging medical discoveries with a focus on the health benefits of natural remedies and ingredients.

Oregano

Oregano

What are the health benefits of Oregano?

Oregano is a widely used cooking ingredient and flavoring. It also has many health benefits some of which have been known for thousands of years, and others which are being discovered by medical research. These benefits include:

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • anti-cancer / tumor inhibition
  • antibacterial and antiviral effects
  • aiding in digestion and relieving nausea and stomach cramps

What is Oregano?

Oregano in Flower. Photo by Christian Bauer.

Oregano in Flower. Photo by Christian Bauer.

The name "oregano" is derived from the ancient Greek and means jewels of the mountains (oros = mountain and Ganos = jewelry, luster). Originally found exclusively in Mediterranean, but now grown and used worldwide, oregano is an important ingredient in Greek, Spanish, Turkish and Italian cuisine.

Oregano prefers dry, sunny locations. In the wild, oregano grows well in oak and pine forests, and heaths, and it grows particularly well on sunny hill slopes and hedgerows.

Oregano is a perennial herbaceous plant, growing from 20 cm to 70cm in height. It is characterized by an aromatic smell and bitter taste.

Oregano is pollinated by insects - especially honey bees - but many butterfly species also are attracted to the sugar-rich nectar of the oregano plant. Honey made from oregano has a distinctive taste.

As a cooking ingredient, oregano is often used as a spice in sauces, pizza, meat seasoning, and salads.
Oregano is also used to flavor some vodka, wine, vermouth, and liqueurs.

Oregano is rich in essential oils such as thymol and carvacrol and cymene. It is very rich in wonderful ingredients such as Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.

Oregano is a popular flavoring for pizza.

Oregano is a popular flavoring for pizza.

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Medicinal Uses of Oregano

Health Benefits of Oregano

Oregano has long been known to have medicinal properties. It is one of the oldest known medicinal plants. Aristotle spoke of it and Dioscorides, a noted doctor and herbalist during the Roman Empire, wrote about it in his famous De Materia Medica from the 1st Century AD. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used this plant to speed up birth and to cure hemorrhoids.

In modern herbal medicine, oregano is often used to make a tea (frequently with other herbs) that helps relieve stomach cramps and intestinal problems.

But that's not all. Due to its very high content of phenols, oregano oil has antiseptic properties, which means that it can be used to clean and sterilize wounds (though it has been known to cause skin irritations).

Medical research has also established that oregano and especially concentrated oregano oil are rich in antioxidants, may fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Some herbalists recommend taking oil of oregano orally as a remedy against colds and the flu, and also as a remedy against fatigue and stress. Modern studies have confirmed that oregano oil has a positive effect on digestive disorders and diseases of the upper respiratory tract.

Extract of oregano is used by some people to treat sinus infections and clear the nasal passageways. You can make your own extract by crushing fresh oregano and then diluting the juice in salt water, or you can by a concentrated solution commercially. One well known oregano-based treatment for sinus infections is sold under the product name Oreganol, which some believe is useful in treating persistent sinus congestion, as well as various viral ailments.

Oregano has traditionally been used in magic.

Oregano has traditionally been used in magic.

Superstitions and The Magical Powers of Oregano

In addition to its real medicinal and health properties, oregano has long been believed to possess miraculous magical properties,

During the Middle Ages, oregano was believed to be a powerful defense against witches and even the devil. People were advised to hold oregano under a witch's nose in order to liberate them from the devil. The smoke from burning oregano was believed to drive away demons.

Marjoram and oregano were used as a protection against evil powers, and for this reason sprigs of oregano were placed in the bride's shoes and in her bridal bouquet.

Oregano was also believed to act as a love potion, and women were advised to place some oregano leaves in their true love's soup. Perhaps this is the origin of the saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach?

oreganofacts

Oregano is a versatile herb with a wide range of health benefits. Plus it may not only keep the doctor away, it might keep evil beings at bay as well!

Please leave a comment. Your feedback is appreciated!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Origanum vulgare from Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean on January 26, 2013:

I am oregano, and I endorse this hub!