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Herb Reference Guide

Oregano

History

This plant is native to Europe, the Mediterranean and southern Asia. It has tiny hair like glands on its surface called trichomes which reflect the intense rays of the sun. This is a trait common to most plants in the Lamiaceae or Mint family. The trichomes synthesize and accumulate essential oils and phenols which protect the plant from oxidation while allowing it to survive in dry and hot conditions with direct exposure to intense sunlight. Throughout history, Oregano was used primarily as a culinary spice and medicinal plant for coughs, stomach distress, and topically for wounds and inflammation but also as an ornamental in gardens. It was used to preserve meat in ancient times before refrigeration was available, as were other spices which contain high amounts of volatile oils like Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.).

Function

This plant has many volatile oils. The main volatile oils that have been researched in this plant are Carvacrol, Thymol, Eugenol and 1, 8 cineole. The plant also contains appreciable amounts of Rosmarinic acid and other antioxidants. Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. Oregano contains key constituents that function synergistically to support the body’s natural resistance to microscopic invaders in the environment. Specifically, the volatile oils found in oregano, contain potent phenols, including carvacrol and thymol, which help to support a healthy microbial environment in the intestines and throughout the body. Oregano leaf also acts as an antioxidant and contains the flavonoid rosmarinic acid that appears to normalize the chemical cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2). Cox-2 is associated with inflammation in tissues. In vitro studies of Oregano oil, along with other essential oils such as Tea Tree oil, appears to have a particular affinity for Candida species as well as a variety of gram postitive and gram negative bacteria. The majority of research to date on Oregano has been done in vitro or in animals, therefore there is insufficient research to scientifically validate all of these actions in humans.* Oregano has been shown to possess significant antioxidant capacity in various in vitro models and has thus been suggested to be potentially beneficial to human health, but again studies in humans are lacking

Uses of Oregano

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Carvacrol, Thymol, Eugenol and 1, 8 cineole and appreciable amounts of Rosmarinic acid and other antioxidants.

Parts Used

  • Leaf

Important precautions

Additional Resources

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Force M, et al. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in
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