For over 4,000 years the herb Oregano has been used by healers world wide to treat a wide variety of ailments, and to strengthen man’s ability to fight off illness. It has powerful bacteria and fungi killing properties, as well as being used as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory.
The ancient Greeks were among the first to take advantage of oregano’s medicinal qualities. The Greeks termed the spice origanos, meaning “delight of the mountains.” Those who have visited Greece, where oregano covers the hillsides and scents the summer air, would probably agree with this name. The sweet, spicy scent of Oregano was reputedly created by the Goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. Bridal couples were crowned with garlands of oregano, and the plants were placed on the tombs to give peace to departed spirits.
The oregano plant (Origanum vulgare) is a member of the marjoram family, and is known also as common or wild marjoram. It grows wild all over Europe, particularly in Italy and Greece (where it is known as rigani). The plant is similar to marjoram, but with crimson flowers, a creeping habit and stems that can rise to about 30 – 45 cm (1 – 1 ½ ft) high. The flowers bloom in July and August.
Margoram and oregano have been thoroughly confused throughout history, both botanically and culinarily, therefore it is difficult to identify which herb is being discussed in old herbals and medical treatises. Theophrastus, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Pliny revered oregano as a strong antiseptic for the respiratory system, and for wounds, ulcers and burns. They believed it also helped the digestion in cookery; and Apicius, the famous Roman gourmet, gave recipes using oregano, including a seasoning of salt and oregano which is still in vogue now (particularly on pizzas).
In his treatise on common plants (1837), Dr Cazin recommended oregano oil for aches and pains due to cold and ‘flu, used as a friction on the body and in a hot bath; he also described it as stimulant, stomachic, expectorant, sudorific and emmenagogic.
OREGANO ESSENTIAL OIL The flower tops are distilled to make the essential oil which is dark yellow to pale brown and smells aggressively spicy and hot.
The plant and oil are very similar to marjoram and to thyme (country people often call oregano ‘shepherd’s thyme’ for this very reason), and has similar properties to other plants of the Labiatae family.
Oregano is the most important antiseptic oil in aromatherapy. Oregano’s proportion of phenol: (the constituent responsible for the strongest antibacterial action) is the highest of all aromatic plants. The chemical constituents of the plants, however, vary from one species to another, and depend on the provenance. The soil in which it is grown is particularly important. Oregano oils are normally high, from 80 – 90 per cent, in phenols (thymol and carvacrol); there is a little borneol, pinene and terpineol, and traces of esters.
CAUTION: Buy oregano oil very carefully, and from a reputable source, as it is often falsified, frequently being completely synthetic, without a trace of the essential oil itself. If there is any doubt at all, rely on the benefits of the fresh herb.
Oregano essential oil has many health benefits. Many of the known health benefits are associated with the immune and respiratory systems but the health benefits of oregano essential oil are not limited to these two areas of the body.
Due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties it makes oregano a great fighter of infections as well as a great cleaning agent. It has been known to help prevent and treat an assortment of infections.
It also helps to deter bugs as well as helping to relieve the pain and rash that can be associated with bug bites or rashes from allergic reactions. Oregano also helps to heal many different types of skin conditions while helping to ease the aches and pains of muscles and joints.
It seems that the benefits to ones health through the use of oregano essential oils are almost endless; hence why oregano is a powerful super essential oil.
As an Anti-allergenic: Due to Oregano’s sedative and anti-inflammatory properties it helps to decrease the hyper-sensitivity the body has towards external stimulants that cause allergies. This allows the user to reduce the severity of their allergic reaction.
As an Anti-bacterial: Oregano helps to protect the body against bacterial infections due to its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. It helps to prevent infections in many of the body’s systems such as the digestive system and respiratory system along with helping to prevent infections in the urinary tract or on the skin.
As an Anti-fungal: Oregano helps to prevent fungal infection both inside and outside the body. It helps to not only prevent and protect the body from these infections but oregano also helps to heal the infection if it present in or on the body. This prevention and healing of fungal infections is due to the antiseptic and antibacterial properties that are present in oregano. Diluting oregano essential oil in a carrier oil and rubbing over the foot 2-3 times a day will help to relieve the symptoms and get rid of athlete’s foot; adding a few drops to baking powder and sprinkling in your shoes will give added protection as well.
As an Anti-inflammatory: Oregano helps to heal and soothe inflammation throughout the body. It helps to heal inflammation and pain which can be associated with a cold or flu but can also help heal a sore muscle from exercise or strain. It helps to increase blood circulation helping to reduce redness and irritation especially when applied topically.
As an Antioxidant: Oregano is a very powerful antioxidant. Not only does oregano protect the body from free radicals but it also helps to repair the damage that was done by free radicals to the body. It also helps to slow down the aging process and helps to protect the body against muscle degeneration.
As an Anti-parasitic: Oregano helps to keep parasites at bay, especially those that love to feed on the human body. When ingested oregano can help to get rid of and prevent internal parasites such as round or tape worms. When applied topically oregano helps to rid the body and prevent external parasites such as lice or mosquitoes from attacking. Oregano is found in many organic and natural bug sprays. Combining a drop of oregano essential oil with a carrier oil and placing it under the tongue and holding it for a few minutes before rinsing the mouth will help to treat parasites in the body.
As an Anti-viral: Oregano helps to prevent and protect the body against viruses that can attack the system. It helps to strengthen the immune system to help prevent these viruses from being caught. It also helps to heal the body if a virus is caught; helping to increase production of white blood cells.
As a Digestive Aid: Oregano helps to stimulate the digestive tract to increase the production of digestive juices. It also helps to increase the absorption of nutrients and enzymes as they move through the digestive system. Oregano will help to rid the digestive system of bacterial infections, toxins and other digestive discomforts that may arise. It also helps to reduce the inflammation that can sometimes arise in the stomach due to infection or other digestion ailments. Oregano also helps to reduce the production of gas in the stomach.
For Emotional Well-being: Oregano is said to help a person let go. Helping a person to learn non-attachment, allowing the person to let go of the need to be right while not hurting or diminishing their pride. This allows the person to dive into life and go with the flow of it while allowing them to let go of common blocks that previously stood in their way. In other words it helps to calm the body and mind allowing a person to be more at ease with themselves and the world around them, allowing them to take life as it is without having to over think things.
As an Immune System Aid: Oregano helps the body combat against infection and disease by stimulating the body to increase produce of white blood cells. These white blood cells are the body’s natural defense against infection and disease so with the increased production of these cells not only can the body protect itself from getting infected it can also help to rid the body of the infection. Taking oregano essential oil orally or applying it topically to the chest can help to protect the body or rid the body of the infection or disease.
A Potent Insect Repellent: Mixing oregano essential oil with a carrier oil or salver and rubbing over your body can help to repel insects. You can also up oregano essential oil in a spray to spray over your body as well. However, if you do happen to get a bug bite applying oregano essential oil directly to the bite will help to reduce itching and relieve the pain and inflammation associated with bug bites.
As a Menstrual Aid: Oregano helps to not only regulate a woman menstruation but it also helps to delay the onset of menopause in women. With menstruation it helps to bring relief to the common symptoms associated with a woman’s time of the month. With menopause it helps to relieve and reduce the side effects associated with it such as mood imbalances and hormonal shifts.
A Strong Respiratory System Aid: Oregano helps to clear out the respiratory system during a cold by helping to loosen up and eliminate the build-up of mucus and phlegm in the respiratory system and sinuses. It also helps to soothe the throat and lungs which is very beneficial during coughing fits while trying to bring up the mucus and phlegm out of the lungs. Not only does oregano help to aid in respiratory system ailments it also helps to prevent them from occurring. Place a few drops of oregano essential oil in steaming water and covering your head with a towel will help to relieve the congestion and help to break up the mucus and phlegm in the lungs.
As a Skin Aid: Oregano helps to aid in many skin ailments such as warts and skins tags, psoriasis and rashes. Due to Oregano’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties it makes sense why it is such a good healer and helper with skin problems. By simply applying oregano essential oil to the affected area topically can help to reduce the problems to the affected area. With warts and skin tags after a few days the wart will begin to shrink and the skin tag will fall off. With psoriasis the symptoms are greatly reduced; applying not only topically but ingesting can help to greatly reduce the symptoms. Oregano can also help to reduce itching caused by a rash helping to cool and control the itching. Oregano has been known to help with dandruff and acne as well. Helping to kill bacteria and moisturize the affect area.
For Weight Loss: Oregano not only helps to boost the immune system which can help in weight loss it also helps the body to get rid of unwanted body fat. In other words it helps to increase the amount of brown fat and muscle while help to decrease the amount of white fat that is deposited throughout the body.
A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION
OREGANO ESSENTIAL OIL CAN CAUSE IRRITATION OF THE SKIN AND MUCUS MEMBRANE IF TAKEN IN HIGH CONCENTRATIONS OR DOSAGES. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID USING IT, AND IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE ADDING IT IN ANY SIGNIFICANT WAY TO YOUR DIET. DUE TO ITS GENERAL STIMULATION AND REGULATION OF THE HORMONES, IT CAN POTENTIALLY RESULT IN A MISCARRIAGE IF THE HORMONE TO INDUCE PERIODS IS STIMULATED. ALSO, LIKE WITH ANY NEW DIETARY SUPPLEMENT OR FOOD, CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ALLERGIES. PEOPLE THAT ARE ALLERGIC TO BASIL, LAVENDER, MARJORAM, MINT, OR SAGE ARE ALSO COMMONLY ALLERGIC TO OREGANO AND ITS ESSENTIAL OIL.
BLENDING: THE ESSENTIAL OIL OF OREGANO BLENDS WELL WITH THE ESSENTIAL OILS OF LAVENDER, ROSEMARY, BERGAMOT, CHAMOMILE, CYPRESS, CEDAR WOOD, TEA TREE AND EUCALYPTUS. THESE COMBINATIONS ARE OFTEN MADE AND WIDELY USED BY AROMATHERAPISTS AND HERBALISTS.