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 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.).


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. 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 support the normal 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


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

Benito M, et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. May1996;76(5):416-8.
Birdsall TC. Alt Med Rev. 1997:
Bremness L. The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and
Using Herbs. New York. Penguin Group; 1988:104-105
Dorman HJD and Deans SG. J of Applied Microbiology. 2000; 88: 308-316.
Force M, et al. Phytotherapy Research. 2000; 14:213-214.
Gerard J. The Herbal or General History of Plants. New York. Dover
Publications; 1975: 666-667. [The complete 1633 edition as revised and
enlarged by Thomas Johnson]
Hammer KA, et al. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant
extracts. J Appl Microbiol. 1999; 86(6):985-990.
Irkin R, Korukluoglu M. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2009 Apr;6(3):387-
Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM. Antioxidant and Cyclooxygenase Inhibitory
Phenolic Compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine.
Lagouri V and Dimitrios B. Nutrient antioxidants in oregano. International J of
Food Science and Nutrition. 1996; 47:493-497.
Mexis SF, Chouliara E, Kontominas MG. Combined effect of an oxygen
absorber and oregano essential oil on shelf life extension of rainbow trout
fillets stored at 4 degrees C. Food Microbiol. 2009 Sep;26(6):598-
605.Milos M, et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant effect of
glycosidically bound volatile compounds from oregano (Origanum vulgare
L. ssp. Hirtum) Food Chemistry. 2000; 71:79-83.
Milos M, et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant effect of glycosidically
bound volatile compounds from oregano (Origanum vulgare L. ssp.
Hirtum) Food Chemistry. 2000; 71:79-83.
Montes-Belmont R and Carvajal M. Control of Aspergillus flavus in maize with
plant essential oils and their components. J Food Prot. 1998; 61(5): 616-
Nurmi A, Mursu J, Nurmi T, et al. Consumption of juice fortified with oregano
extract markedly increases excretion of phenolic acids but lacks shortand
long-term effects on lipid peroxidation in healthy nonsmoking men. J
Agric Food Chem. 2006 Aug 9;54(16):5790-6.
Ozdimir B, Ekbul A, Topal NB, et al. Effects of Origanum onites on endothelial
function and serum biochemical markers in hyperlipidaemic patients. J Int
Med Res. 2008 Nov-Dec;36(6):1326-34.
Saeed S, Tariq P. Antibacterial activity of oregano (Origanum vulgare Linn.)
against gram positive bacteria. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2009 Oct;22(4):421-4.
Rosato A, Vitali C, Piarulli M, et al. In vitro synergic efficacy of the
combination of Nystatin with the essential oils of Origanum vulgare and
Pelargonium graveolens against some Candida species. Phytomedicine.
2009 Oct;16(10):972-5.Tantaoui-Elaraki A and Beraoud L. Inhibition of
growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus by essential oils
of selected plant materials. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1994;13(1): 67-

Herb Reference Guide

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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