Oregano is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. For thousands of years, people have used it to spice food and treat health issues. It is a part of the Mediterranean diet.
Oregano was synonymous with joy and happiness by the Greeks and Romans. The name is derived from the Greek words “oros” (mountain) and “ganos” (joy).
Oregano comes in a variety of types. Oregano vulgare, also known as Spanish thyme and wild marjoram, is the most common form.
Oregano is used in the diet as a supplement as well as an aromatic oil.
The antioxidants thymol, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene contribute to the taste and fragrance of the herb. They also add to oregano oil’s health benefits. When people eat oregano, they get a lot of other antioxidants.
For centuries, people in the Mediterranean region have used oregano in herbal medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including:
More research is needed to validate the benefits of oregano, but there is some evidence that it may be beneficial:
Antioxidants are found in oregano and other herbs. Antioxidants in the diet aid the body’s elimination of free radicals, which are harmful compounds generated by natural processes and environmental stresses. Oxidative stress is caused by an accumulation of free radicals. Oxidative stress can cause cell damage, which can lead to diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Learn more about antioxidants by clicking here.
Carvacrol and thymol are the two primary components of oregano essential oil. These may be antimicrobial in nature.
Carvacrol and thymol inhibited the growth of various strains of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria in meat and dairy products in a 2019 laboratory report, indicating that they could help regulate bacterial growth in foods.
Researchers performed lab experiments to examine the effects of oregano oil on different microbes that do not respond to other medicines, despite increasing concerns about diseases being resistant to antibiotics.
Against 11 of these microbes, the oil showed “strong antibacterial activity.” This indicates that compounds in oregano could help combat infections that are immune to antibiotics.
Although these tests show that oregano compounds may have antibacterial properties, this does not guarantee that consuming oregano would keep you from getting sick.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps in the immune system’s work.
The oils and constituents of oregano oil, such as thymol and rosmarinic acid, tend to have anti-inflammatory properties, according to one literature review.
Oregano extract has been shown to minimize inflammation in animal studies, which may lead to:
It’s worth remembering that the experiments used oregano extracts that were concentrated. This is not the same as oregano being consumed by humans.
Another herb with anti-inflammatory properties is rosemary.
Providing cancer security
Oregano may have anticancer properties due to some of its ingredients.
Extracts can help prevent DNA damage in cells caused by oxidative stress, radiation, and mitogens, a form of protein that can cause unwanted cell division, according to research.
Though oregano alone is unlikely to prevent cancer, a varied, plant-based diet rich in antioxidants can aid in the prevention of cancer-causing cell changes.
- improve insulin resistance
- regulate the expression of genes that affect fat and carbohydrate metabolism
- restore damaged liver and kidney tissues
Some people already use oregano leaves and oil to control high blood sugar levels, according to the authors.
Researchers discovered in 2015 that an oregano extract boosted type 1 diabetes in mice. This may be attributed to oregano’s antioxidant properties, immune system effects, and ability to prevent cell death, according to the researchers.
Stress-related behavior in rats given oregano treatment improved after 14 days. The authors of the study came to the conclusion that oregano could help with stress-related actions.
Other potential health advantages
People take oregano products by mouth for a variety of reasons, according to the National Library of Medicine:
- painful menstrual cramps
- rheumatoid arthritis
- urinary tract infections and disorders
- bleeding after a tooth extraction
- heart conditions
- high cholesterol
People apply oregano oil to the skin for:
- athlete’s foot
- canker sores, toothache, and gum disease
- insect bites and as an insect repellant
- muscle and joint pain
- varicose veins
In several of these cases, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of oregano as a dietary herb, supplement, or oil for medicinal purposes.
However, most people are unlikely to be affected if they do not drink too much oregano oil and use a diluted form of the oil for any topical applications.
Oregano comes in a variety of varieties, each with its own antioxidant and nutrient profile.
The nutrients in one teaspoon (tsp) or one gram (g) of dried oregano leaves are mentioned in the table below.
According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans , it also indicates how much of each nutrient an adult requires. The requirements differ depending on the individual’s gender and age.
|Nutrient||Amount||Daily adult requirement|
|Calcium (millgrams [mg])||16.0||1,000–1,200|
|Folate (mcg, DFE)||2.4||400|
Tryptophan, lysine, valine, arginine, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E (tocopherol) are some of the antioxidants contained in oregano.
People can use the leaves dry or fresh to add a “Mediterranean” flavor to a range of dishes.
It tastes great with tomato and is commonly used in pizza and pasta sauces.
People also add it to:
- baked goods
- vegetable dishes
- legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas
- chili dishes
Here are some tips for adding it to food:
- While cooking, sprinkle meat, chicken with oregano for flavor.
- Use it in marinades or stuffings.
- Chop and mix into bread or pizza dough for a herby flavor.
- Add fresh oregano leaves to a salad.
- Sprinkle onto slices of mozzarella cheese and tomato, and drizzle with olive oil.
To moderate the flavor, try the following:
- Add toward the end of the cooking process for maximum flavor.
- Chop, crush, or grind the leaves to release more flavor.
- Start with a small amount and scale up, as too much can make the food bitter.
One teaspoon of dried oregano equals one tablespoon of fresh oregano in a recipe.
Oregano is sold in grocery stores, both dried and fresh. They can also cultivate it in the garden or in a pot on a windowsill or balcony. It’s a perennial, which means it’ll keep growing throughout the year.
Most people are likely to be healthy when using oregano as a spice, oil, or supplement.
However, people should:
Before beginning any supplement, they should consult their doctor, particularly if they are taking other drugs or have a medical condition.
Avoid oregano-based products for at least two weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding.
Before using essential oils, dilute them with a carrier oil like olive oil or water, as in a steam bath. Oregano oil should be used in a concentration of no more than 1%, or skin irritation can occur.
Swallowing essential oils or applying them to the skin can be harmful. To avoid toxicity, people should check the proper way to use of product.
The ability of the body to consume copper, iron, and zinc may be affected by oregano. It may also help to lower blood sugar levels.
People who are allergic to plants in the Lamiaceae family, which includes oregano, basil, lavender, mint, and sage, should be careful because oregano can trigger an allergic reaction.
- Al Dhaheri, Y., et al. (2013). Anti-metastatic and anti-tumor growth effects of Origanum majorana on highly metastatic human breast cancer cells: Inhibition of NFκB signaling and reduction of nitric oxide production.
- Amiresmaeili, A., et al. (2018). Effects of oregano essential oil on brain TLR4 and TLR2 gene expression and depressive-like behavior in a rat model.
- Appendix 7. Nutritional goals for age-sex groups based on dietary reference intakes and Dietary Guidelines recommendations. (2015).
- Asmat, U., et al. (2016). Diabetes mellitus and oxidative stress: A concise review.
- Bradbury, K. (2012). Cooking with oregano.
- Essential oils: poisonous when misused. (n.d.).
- Faleiro, L., et al. (2005). Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of essential oils isolated from Thymbra capitate L. (Cav.) and Origanum vulgare L.[Abstract].
- Leyva-López, N., et al. (2017). Essential oils of oregano: Biological activity beyond their antimicrobial properties.
- Lu. M., et al. (2018). Bactericidal property of oregano oil against multidrug-resistant clinical isolates.
- Oregano. (2019).
- What are the health benefits of oregano? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259
- Rua, J., et al. (2019). Combination of carvacrol and thymol: Antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and antioxidant activity.
- Singletary, K. W. (2010). Oregano: Overview of the literature on health benefits.
- Soliman, M. M., et al. (2016). Origanum majoranum extract modulates gene expression, hepatic and renal changes in a rat model of type 2 diabetes.
- Spices, oregano, dried. (2019).
- Vujicic, M., et al. (2015). Methanolic extract of Origanum vulgare ameliorates type 1 diabetes through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic activity.