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Herbs: Oregano Varieties

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What are the health benefits of oregano?
Last updatedMon 11 December 2017 By Joseph NordqvistReviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Oregano is a culinary and medicinal herb from the mint, or Lamiaceae family. It has been used in medicine and cooking for thousands of years. It adds flavor, and it may have a number of health benefits.
The name of the herb comes from the Greek words “oros,” meaning mountain, and “ganos,” meaning joy. It typically grows around 50 cm tall and has purple leaves around 2 to 3 centimeters in length.

The chemicals that give the herb its unique and pleasant smell are thymol, pinene, limonene, carvacrol, ocimene, and caryophyllene.

Believed to contain potent antioxidants and to have anti-bacterial properties.

Fast facts on oregano:

Oregano is a Mediterranean herb that is used for cooking and medicinal purposes, ranging from treating infections to repelling insects.
Active ingredients in oregano could one day help treat osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes.
Use it to flavor sauces, make herby bread rolls, and in marinades for meat.
People with an allergy to mint should take care when consuming oregano.

Benefits
Oregano is available fresh, or dried for cooking, and oregano oil can be used to treat infections.
used in herbal medicine by the Ancient Greeks.

Hippocrates used it as an antiseptic.

Possible medicinal uses include treating respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps & urinary tract disorders.

Applied topically, it may help treat skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff.

1) Antibacterial properties
Oregano oil contains an essential compound called carvacrol, which has antimicrobial properties.

The herb has shown antimicrobial activity in a number of studies. One group of researchers found that Origanum vulgare essential oils were effective against 41 strains of the food pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.

Another team from India and the United Kingdom (U.K.) reported that the essential oil of Himalayan oregano has strong antibacterial properties that may protect against the hospital superbug, MRSA.

“We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water.”

Prof. Vyv Salisbury, the University of the West of England, Bristol
The project won an award from the United Nations in 2008.

2) Anti-inflammatory properties
Scientists from Germany and Switzerland identified an active ingredient in oregano, known as beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP), which may help treat disorders such as osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. E-BCP is a dietary cannabinoid.

3) Protecting against cancer
Research published in the journal PLoS ONE in 2013 suggested that oregano exhibits anticancer activity. The scientists concluded that Origanum majorana could help prevent and treat breast cancer by slowing or preventing its progression.

In 2014, food scientists discovered that the popular culinary herbs oregano, rosemary, and marjoram contain compounds that may have the potential to manage type 2 diabetes in a similar way to some currently prescribed drugs.

Other possible health benefits
According to The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, oregano can be used for:

cold sores
muscle pain
acne
dandruff
bronchitis
toothache
bloating
headaches
heart conditions
allergies
intestinal parasites
earache
sore throat
fatigue
repelling insects
menstrual cramps
Oregano essential oil, made from Origanum vulgare or Thymus capitatus, may help with the following problems:

Foot or nail fungus: Put a few drops in water and soak the feet in it, or apply diluted oil topically to the affected area.
Sinus infections and colds: Use a few drops in a steam bath and inhale.
Any essential oil should be diluted before use, either with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, or in water, as for a steam bath.

More research is needed to confirm oregano’s effectiveness as a treatment.

Nutrition
Oregano contains some important nutrients.

One teaspoon of dried oregano contains:

energy: 5 calories
fiber: 0.8 grams (g)
calcium: 29 milligrams (mg)
iron: 0.66 mg
magnesium: 5 g
manganese: 0.09 mg
potassium: 23 mg
vitamin E: 0.33 mg
vitamin K: 11.2 micrograms (mcg)
Antioxidant

Culinary uses

Mediterranean herb that goes well with pizzas and pasta sauces.
sprinkling meat or chicken for flavor
in marinades or stuffings
chopping & mixing it in bread dough to make herb rolls
adding it fresh to salad
Add it toward end of the cooking process for maximum flavor
The smaller you chop or grind it, the more flavor will be released

Growing
Pots on Windowsill or Balcony, Garden, Part sun, well drained
Perennial (grows all year)

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