Usually considered as a culinary herb, oregano has medicinal properties that have been understood and used for many years. The name of this herb is derived from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy or splendor). Besides being a beautiful plant, the mountains that it grows on are much more beautiful because of its presence and the fresh aroma that is carried on the breezes all around it. Oregano grows wild year after year in mountainous areas that are free of pollution and flourishes in sunny fields late into the summer months.
The power of oregano’s healing properties lie in its oil-laden leaves. Be aware that in many of the grocery stores and supermarkets of North America, oregano has been mislabeled as marjoram and even thyme. But the medicinal properties of these two herbs may be somewhat different than those of oregano.
Oil extracted from the leaves of oregano has been used safely for reducing pain related to toothache. When poured into the cavity of the painful tooth it is as useful for some as oil of clove has been for others.
Oil of oregano has also been used successfully as a fungicide in treating recurrent fungal infections, such as the chronic yeast infections associated to Candida albicans – systemic or chronic intestinal yeast overgrowth. Oil of oregano has shown helpful in cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome and other intestinal parasites and bacterial infections. Oil of oregano historically has been used to replace anti-inflammatory medications for reversing pain and swelling. Some report it as being nearly as strong a pain killer as morphine.
Oil of oregano can be used topically to give immediate relief for bug bites, bee stings and other venomous bites until proper medical treatment can be sought. Oregano’s oil has also been suggested for treating dandruff, diaper rash, and other disorders of the skin.
The leaves can be dried and put into gelatin capsules for internal use when using as a tea is inconvenient. Externally the leaves can be pounded into a paste by adding a small amount of hot water to reach the desired consistency. Some oatmeal can be added to thicken it, if needed. This can then be applied to relieve the pain of rheumatism, itching and swelling, aching muscles, and other sores.
Placing a handful of dried leaves into a cheesecloth bag or a sock and tying it closed and placing into hot bath water can sooth tired joints, muscles, and aching feet. Allow it to steep in the bath as you relax in the warm, fragrant water. People from Jamaica have been known to burn incense of oregano to ward off coughs and other respiratory complaints.
Tea made from oregano leaves can be used for loss of appetite, nervousness, indigestion, excess gas, bloating, urinary problems, coughs, headaches, bronchial problems, swollen glands and to induce and regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. Some have used this tea to relieve fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice. Unsweetened, you can use oregano tea as a mouthwash or gargle. Sipping it hot gives one its maximum benefits.
Prepare the tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of dried leaves or 3 tablespoons of crushed, fresh leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes.
Cut the leaves to release the oil. Boil the water on the stove for 10 minutes, and then add the leaves to the pot. Steep over low flame for 20 minutes, tasting often to keep from getting bitter. Strain and add the honey. Avoid sugar or artificial sweeteners as they may block its medicinal properties. Pour into mugs and sip slowly while hot to enjoy its maximum benefits.
Health benefits of oregano include:
Boosts Immunity. Two of the most important components of oregano is rosmarinic acid and thymol, both of which are powerful antioxidant compounds that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are the destructive by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and other chronic diseases. Thus, adding oregano to your diet by sprinkling it on your meals can improve your immune health and keep your body safe from some of the most dangerous and silent killers.
Antibacterial Activity. On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties, which is again due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. These important organic compounds can defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, the gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, resulting in the faster recovery of common illnesses.
Aids Digestion. Oregano is packed with fiber, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps to maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!
Improves Heart Health. Oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that actually improves your heart health. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help to rebalance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes!
Detoxifies the Body. The nutrient-rich oregano, with a high content of manganese, calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and a wide range of other organic compounds, makes this an ideal herb for detoxifying the body. Research has shown that oregano can help liver function and speed up the process of toxin elimination.
Improves Bone Health. As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, so ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, and oregano has significant amounts of all of them, making it great for people who want to protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.
Increases Energy Levels. By improving the functionality of the metabolism, thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic composition, the body is rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.
Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance. Also, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. Toss some oregano into your next meal and see just how beneficial it can really be!