The Amazing Healing Properties of Oregano!
Oregano is a member of the mint family and most certainly one of the most versatile herbs in the spice rack. It is known as wild marjoram in many parts of Europe. Its name comes from the Greek words oro (mountain) and ganos (joy). In Greek mythology it is said that the goddess Aphrodite invented the aromatic spice and gave it to man to increase his happiness.
Rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant, is the most active component of oregano, and as the name suggests, rosmarinic acid is also found in rosemary as well as other herbs. The flavonoid antioxidants found in oregano help the body to fight infection and defend the cells from the harmful effects of free radicals.
Oregano oil contains two naturally occurring agents, carvacrol and thymol which are known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In fact:
Studies are showing that in some cases oregano oil is just as effective as pharmaceutical antibiotics in treating some bacterial infections, and without any of the harmful side effects!
Side by side testing of oregano and pharmaceutical antibiotics has shown equal protection against the same infections. Another advantage of treating infections with oregano oil is that a resistance to treatment will not develop over time.
Preliminary research is finding that a small dose of oregano oil is capable of eliminating the hospital superbug MRSA.
A 2001 study conducted at the Georgetown University Medical Center reported the following:
“Oil from the common herb oregano may be an effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug-resistant bacteria, a Georgetown researcher has found. Two studies have shown that oregano oil—and, in particular, carvacrol, one of oregano’s chemical components—appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics.”
Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrated that several common herbs are just as high in antioxidant activity as many fruits and vegetables, and oregano scored higher than any herb or food studied for its antioxidant activity. It proved to have 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries!
A 2003 study published in the The Journal of Nutrition reported
“In a normal diet, intake of herbs may therefore contribute significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants, and be an even better source of dietary antioxidants than many other food groups such as fruits, berries, cereals and vegetables.”
In addition to its antioxidant properties, oregano also possesses antimicrobial activity against many harmful microorganisms including E.coli and Salmonella. This means that the use of oregano may not only enhance flavor, but also a food’s safety and stability.
There are also reports revealing that oregano contains the active ingredient beta-caryophyllin (E- BCP) which has anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in treating conditions such as osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis or even metabolic syndrome.
Other studies have demonstrated that some components of oregano may have anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties, meaning that it could help to slow down or prevent the progression of cancer. The phytochemical carnosol, found in oregano and rosemary, has shown positive outcome against prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer.
It’s warm and bitter flavor can also be savored in many Greek, Spanish and Mexican dishes.