Oregano – Not Just for Pizza – Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, and Full of Nutrients

Oregano Growing in a PotI read an article about oregano, probably in an email or on FB—it’s title is what caught my eye and interest— “Oregano – One of the Most Beneficial Spices For Our Health With 4 Times the Antioxidant Potency of Blueberries”.  This is written by Karen Foster and posted on her web page.

I found her post very informative about OREGANO and wanted to find other references to back up her claims.  I found quite a few, but the best one for information was here at The World’s Healthiest Foods.

I am very impressed with oregano.  I had not thought about oregano having health benefits, but boy does it!  As with most herbs, oregano has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes in other parts of the world.  Oregano is “known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram.”

Health benefits of oregano are that it is an effective anti-bacterial.

“The volatile oils in this spice include thymol and carvacrol, both of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus . In Mexico, researchers have compared oregano to tinidazol, a commonly used prescription drug to treat infection from the amoeba Giardia lamblia. These researchers found oregano to be more effective against Giardia than the commonly used prescription drug.” [1]

It is also an potent anti-oxidant.

“Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients—including thymol and rosmarinic acid—that have also been shown to function as potent antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body. In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food—BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole). Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.” [1]

Oregano is a nutrient-dense spice.

“Our food ranking system qualified oregano as a very good source of fiber.  Fiber works in the body to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and remove them from the body.  ….   These are just some of the reasons that diets high in fiber have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer.  ….Oregano also emerged as a bountiful source of many nutrients. It qualified within our system as an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, iron, and calcium as well as a good source of vitamin E and tryptophan.”[1]

Oregano having the above attributes of being nutrient dense, an antioxidant and anti-bacterial has been used in these other applications. “The herb is used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders and also applied topically to help treat a number of skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff.”[2]

Further wonders of oregano are “Oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial, because it contains an essential compound called carvacol.  A team of British and Indian researchers reported that the essential oil of Himalayan oregano has strong antibacterial properties that can even kill the hospital superbug MRSA.

Professor Vyv Salisbury, who was part of the research, said:

“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.” [2]

So how can we use these wonders besides on pizza

“Whenever possible, choose fresh oregano over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh oregano should look fresh and be a vibrant green in color, while the stems should be firm. They should be free from dark spots or yellowing.

Even through dried herbs and spices like oregano are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried oregano, try to buy that which has been organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.

Fresh oregano should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the oregano in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried oregano should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.

Oregano, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, garnish it with some fresh oregano.
  • Oregano goes great with healthy sautéed mushrooms and onions.
  • Adding a few sprigs of fresh oregano to a container of olive oil will infuse the oil with the essence of the herb.
  • Fresh oregano makes an aromatic addition to omelets and frittatas.
  • Sprinkle some chopped oregano onto homemade garlic bread.
  • Add oregano to salad dressings. “[1]

I also did look at the WebMD site that is full of negatives for using oregano medicinally.  They say there has not been much research, after listing off all of this:

“Oregano is used for respiratory tract disorders such as coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis. It is also used for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as heartburn and bloating. Other uses include treating menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders including urinary tract infections (UTIs), headaches, and heart conditions.

The oil of oregano is taken by mouth for intestinal parasites, allergies, sinus pain, arthritis, cold and flu, swine flu, earaches, and fatigue. It is applied to the skin for skin conditions including acne, athlete’s foot, oily skin, dandruff, canker sores, warts, ringworm, rosacea, and psoriasis; as well as for insect and spider bites, gum disease, toothaches, muscle pain, and varicose veins. Oregano oil is also used topically as an insect repellent.

In foods and beverages, oregano is used as a culinary spice and a food preservative.”

But on the whfoods site there is quite a list of references from peer reviewed journals.  And of course WebMD is the only one that I read that had a whole list of negative reactions.  None of the others listed many… just if you usually react to the family of “Lamiaceae family (such as including basil, lavender, mint, and sage) you should be cautious, as they may also develop an allergic reaction to oregano.”  WebMD also warned that if you are taking Lithium there could be interactions.

So what do you think?  Are you considering using oregano for more than just pizza?  I am.

References:

1.   WHFoods: Oregano – If you are wanting the references I referred to please visit this link.

2.  MNT: What are the health benefits of oregano?

WebMD: Oregano

Mark’s Daily Apple: Oregano: 10 Natural Health Benefits & Healing Uses

PreventDisease.com: Oregano – One of The Most Beneficial Spices For Our Health With 4 Times The Antioxidant Potency of Blueberries

Marilyn

About Marilyn

I am a "retired senior" (I've been a school librarian and library tech for a government research facility) who is now pursuing a dream of a home business sewing bags of all sorts, crafting and being the creative person I have always wanted to be. I grew up in the center of Illinois and dreamed of actually living back in the state of Colorado where I was born and lived till the age of 7. That dream came true when I met my husband of 43 years while working together in Estes Park. I am interested in alternative medicine, continuing the good health I've always had, while returning to the pre-processed food era of: eating well, losing weight, and using products that do not harm the environment, me, my family and friends. I am for labeling GMO’s, using sustainable products, organics and finding solutions to everyday problems, like colds and sore muscles, using natural remedies. I have a positive attitude that has helped through a very hard year and will bring forth a life that will be full and happy. My family is wonderful and I am a happy lady, wife, mother, and grandma.

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