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5 Health Benefits of Oregano & 5 Side Effects (+ Tips for Uses)

Oregano is a popular spice that gives a special flavor to Mediterranean dishes. But the plant also has great healing properties: among other things, it is considered a natural antibiotic. Here you can learn about how oregano benefits your health and find out what oregano is good for.

Whether it’s pizza, pasta, meat or fish, oregano’s slightly tangy, aromatic flavor is a wonderful match for Mediterranean cuisine. The use as a spice, however, is not at all long common, because for a long time the benefit as a medicinal herb was in the foreground. Even in ancient times, people valued the herb as a proven remedy.

Interesting Facts About Oregano

Interesting Facts About Oregano

Although oregano is used as a spice in almost every kitchen, only very few people know about the special features of this plant. In the following, we reveal interesting facts about its origin, appearance and taste. In addition, we show how you can dry the herb yourself.

Origin and History

Originally oregano comes from the Mediterranean region, because here are optimal growing conditions. Today, the aromatic herb also grows in other parts of the world with temperate and warm climates, for example, in Asia, Central America, North America and Europe.

For many centuries, the main use of the plant was its healing properties. The ancient Greeks already appreciated the healthy ingredients of oregano. Therefore, the name comes from the Greek words oros, meaning "mountain" and ganos which means "joy".

Oregano is rich in healthy essential oils, which consist mainly of the substances thymol and carvacrol. It also contains the powerful analgesic substance p-cymene. The medicinal herb contains vitamins C, B and K and minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc. The tannins and bitter compounds it contains also make the herb healthy.

Did you know? Only for about 300 to 400 years, the plant is used as a spice. Meanwhile, oregano is one of the most popular spices and it is impossible to imagine modern cuisine without it.

Appearance and Taste

Appearance and Taste

Oregano – sometimes called wild marjoram, dost or blue haze – is a herbaceous plant with a growth height of about twenty to sixty centimeters. The evergreen semi-shrub has numerous umbel-like inflorescences on which the leaves and flowers grow.

The leaves have an oval to elongated shape and are about three centimeters long. From late June to September, the seasoning plant bears delicate pink, white or purple flowers arranged in panicles.

Both leaves and flowers have a pleasant spicy-aromatic smell that attracts bees, butterflies and other insects. You can use both the fresh leaves and the flowers to flavor food and as a medicinal remedy. Classically, however, the dried leaves are used in a rubbed form.

The taste of oregano is strong, slightly bitter and spicy. In the dried state, it is more intense, because the content of essential oils is more concentrated. Even small amounts of the rubbed spice give dishes a fine-tart aroma.

The intense flavor distinguishes the spice plant from its close relative majoram, which has a mild, slightly sweet aroma. Both herbs belong to the plant genus Dost and have a similar appearance. This is where the name wild marjoram comes from, which is often used for oregano. However, these are two different plants.

How to Pronounce "Oregano"

How to Pronounce "Oregano"

Oregano is one of the words that are often mispronounced. The pronunciation differs, sometimes significantly.

While many emphasize the "A" of the third syllable, others emphasize the "E" of the second syllable or the "O".

The correct pronunciation is oregano, with the emphasis on the "E" of the second syllable. This is also how the dictionary prescribes it.

How to Grow Oregano

How to Grow Oregano

You can easily grow the aromatic herb in your garden or on your balcony. Either you grow the plant from seed yourself or you buy a small plant, which you put in the spring in the bed or in a flower pot.

Oregano prefers dry, well-drained soil and a warm, sunny location. The warmer and sunnier the spot, the better and more intense the flavor.

The perennial plant is hardy and in the bed only needs winter protection of fir branches on very icy days. In the pot, it generally needs protection during frost.

Otherwise, the plant is easy to care for and only needs moderate watering during longer dry periods. You can continuously harvest fresh leaves and shoot tips during the growing season from spring to fall. The ideal time for harvesting a large quantity is in July and August, when the taste and healing power are at their strongest.

It is best to harvest the herb in the late morning on a warm and dry day. This is when the plant has the best aroma. Cut the shoots with scissors or a sharp knife about a hand’s width above the ground.

How to Dry Oregano
  1. Before drying, you should sort out diseased parts of the plant and shake the branches to remove dirt and insects.
  2. Then tie several shoots into small bunches and hang them upside down to dry in a warm, dark and well-ventilated place where the temperature is between 68°F and 86°F.
  3. When the leaves rustle between your fingers and the stems break when bent, you can finish the drying process.
  4. Then strip the leaves and flowers from the stems and crush them.
  5. Store the crushed spice in an airtight container in a cool and dark place to preserve its aroma.

Oregano Nutrition Facts and Calories

Take a look at our nutritional content chart for oregano below. You will get an insight into the minerals and vitamins contained in oregano as well as information on the calories.

Components1 tsp, Dried Oregano Leaves (1 g)
Calories2.7 kcal
Water0.10 g
Total Fat0.04 g
Total Carbohydrate0.7 g
Dietary Fiber0.4 g
Sugar0 g
Protein0.1 g
Sodium0.3 mg
Potassium13 mg
Iron0.4 mg
Calcium16 mg
Magnesium2.70 mg
Zinc0.03 mg
Vitamin A0.85 mcg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.046 mg
Vitamin B60.010 mg
Vitamin E0.18 mg
Vitamin K6.2 mcg

Health Benefits of Oregano

Health Benefits of Oregano

Since the Middle Ages, oregano has been used as a remedy in folk medicine. The seasoning herb is known for its healing powers and can bring you relief from a wide variety of ailments.

Benefits of Oregano for Respiratory Ailments

Oregano is rich in essential oils, about 85 percent of which are carvacrol and thymol. These have been shown to have a beneficial effect in respiratory diseases.

Carvacrol has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, the substance has analgesic and warming properties, which is found to be beneficial for throat pain and cough.

Thymol has a germicidal effect and exerts its healing properties especially in colds with rhinitis, sinusitis and cough.

The herb also helps with persistent respiratory infections such as bronchitis and tonsillitis. It even brings relief from earaches, as it kills bacteria and also has analgesic and circulation-enhancing properties. In addition, it is expectorant and improves the healing process.

Oregano Benefits Your Cell Protection

Oregano Benefits Your Cell Protection

The medicinal herb has a strong antioxidant effect, by which free radicals are trapped in the cells, which helps cell preservation.

Free radicals attack body cells and can trigger chronic diseases. They also promote premature skin aging. Excessive drinking, smoking and sunbathing mean oxidative stress for your body and make it necessary to compensate with antioxidants.

The antioxidant effect of oregano, together with the secondary plant compounds thymol and carvacrol it contains, is also said to have the ability to inhibit the division of cancer cells and kill tumor cells.

Oregano Benefits the Control of Bacteria

Oregano oil is considered the strongest natural antibiotic. This property makes it a valuable alternative for people who have developed resistance to antibiotics.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of pathogens that have little or no response to antibiotics. The dreaded staphylococcal variant MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), for example, can hardly be controlled even in hospitals and leads to many deaths.

Several medical studies have shown that the essential oils carvacrol and thymol contained in oregano are highly effective against many bacteria and even MRSA, especially when combined with blackcurrant.

Benefits of Oregano for Gastrointestinal Problems

Oregano Aids in Gastrointestinal Problems

Oregano is a proven remedy for gastrointestinal problems. The medicinal herb has an antispasmodic effect, helps with intestinal fungus and promotes digestion.

Oregano oil, in particular, promotes healthy intestinal flora. It has anti-inflammatory properties, is effective against parasite infestation, expels yeast in the intestines, promotes blood circulation, and fights viruses and bacteria.

It also stimulates gastric juice production, which has a positive effect on your digestion.

Certain fibers contained are said to be able to bind toxins and bile salts in the gastrointestinal tract so that they can be naturally drained from the body. This is also said to lower cholesterol levels.

Tip: If possible, you should use oregano oil as a natural antibiotic, because chemical antibiotics can damage your intestinal flora in the long run. In serious diseases, however, you should always go to the doctor and clarify whether a treatment with the medicinal herb is medically questionable.

Benefits of Oregano for Fungal Diseases

Benefits of Oregano for Fungal Diseases

Oregano is an old home remedy against nail fungus and the yeast Candida, which can settle on our mucous membranes, in the genital area, in the mouth or throat and in the intestines.

The contained thymol has a strong anti-fungal effect. The ingredient carvacrol also has an anti-fungal effect. Unlike conventional antifungals, oregano oil fights the yeast Candida without making it immune to the active ingredients. Thus, the high effectiveness is maintained during prolonged use.

You can use the essential oil both externally and internally for fungal diseases.

Is Oregano Good for You?

Is Oregano Good for You?

As shown before orgeano has many health benefits for you. Its essential oils and antioxidant effects make oregano a healing herb that helps with colds, kills bacteria and protects your cells.

It soothes the stomach and intestines and can even be used against athlete’s foot infections. Oregano has also analgesic and warming properties. In addition, it has an expectorant effect and is therefore beneficial in the treatment of coughs.

In conclusion, one can say oregano is not only a plus for your physical health, but also for your taste buds and recipes.

However, oregano is not per se good for everybody. Besides the benefits of oregano, there are also some side effects that need to be considered. Especially if you suffer from iron deficiency or take blood-thinning medication, you should know about the possible side effects of oregano.

Side Effects of Oregano

Allergic Reactions as a Side Effect of Oregano

In some cases, you should be careful when using oregano because the medicinal herb can bring unpleasant side effects. Below we show risks that may arise from taking oregano.

Allergic Reactions

Oregano belongs to the labiates family and may cause you to have an allergic reaction. If you notice itching, rashes or shortness of breath in connection with the application, you should immediately go to the doctor and clarify a possible allergy.

Inhibition of Iron Absorption

Since the medicinal herb inhibits iron absorption, you should take the highly concentrated oregano oil preferably two hours before or after eating. This is especially true if you suffer from iron deficiency.

Oregano May Induce Labor in Pregnant Women

Oregano May Induce Labor in Pregnant Women

As a pregnant woman, you should only take oregano in small amounts as a spice, because the herb can trigger premature labor in high doses. On oregano oil and a preparation as a tea you should completely avoid, because here the content of ingredients is particularly high.

In pregnancy, your body needs a lot of folic acid for the healthy development of your baby. At this point, the consumption of spinach or pistachios is recommended.

Oregano Has a Blood Thinning Effect

If you take blood-thinning medications, oregano can further increase the effect. It may worsen bleeding disorders. Therefore, you should take the spice plant in this case only in low dosage to you.

When it comes to surergy and you suffer from a bleeding disorder or taking medication like aspirin, heparin or warfarin you must stop the consumtion of oregano at least two weeks before.

Liver Damage from Contaminated Oregano

Liver Damage from Contaminated Oregano

In recent years, there have been several reports that carcinogenic substances have been found in rubbed oregano. In response, there were tested numerous commercially available products for harmful substances. The results were alarming.

In January 2020, there was a recall of several products, including many well-known manufacturers. The samples were so heavily contaminated with pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) that there was a significant health risk for consumers. PAs can damage the liver and be carcinogenic if consumed regularly.

The cause of the high contamination was contamination by optically similar plants and weeds with high PA content. Oregano itself does not form PA according to current knowledge.

Note: In the meantime, only a few rubbed products have a high PA load. By growing and drying the plant yourself, you can avoid this residual risk. Or use oregano oil, because here this problem does not exist.

What Is Oregano Good For?

You can buy oregano as a plant, rubbed spice or rich essential oil. There are also oregano oil capsules that allow exact dosage. Depending on the intended use, there are various applications. In order to find out what oregano is good for and how you can use it in alternative forms, read on.

Oregano Tea for Colds, Digestive Problems and Loss of Appetite

Oregano Tea for Digestive Problems

For digestive problems, loss of appetite and respiratory ailments with cough or sore throat, oregano tea can provide quick relief. There are several ways you can prepare the healing tea.

For a tea to drink, pour one to two teaspoons of dried oregano or twice the amount of the fresh herb over a quart of hot water and let the tea sit for five to ten minutes. If you don’t use a tea infuser, you’ll need to strain the spice before drinking.

The tea has a spicy taste, which is characteristic of the herb. For coughs and sore throats, you can use a spoonful of honey to sweeten it. In case of digestive problems and loss of appetite, drink the tea unsweetened. You can drink a maximum of three cups of oregano tea a day.

A tea for gargling needs a lot of medicinal properties, so you should use three teaspoons of dried oregano or six teaspoons of the fresh plant. Brew the herb with a cup of water and let the tea steep for at least ten minutes.

For sore throats, gargle with the lukewarm tea for several minutes up to six times a day.

Oregano Broth as a Bath Additive for Colds

Oregano Broth as a Bath Additive for Colds

An oregano broth is an effective remedy for respiratory diseases. The essential oils help especially well with bronchial complaints and colds with rhinitis.

For a bath with colds in oregano broth you need about fifty grams of dried oregano. Pour a liter of boiling water over the herb and let the mixture steep for fifteen minutes. Then draw a bath and add the decoction. After the bath you should quickly go to bed.

Here you can learn how to make your own vegetable broth.

Tip: The decoction is not only suitable for baths, but is also a proven remedy against aphids in the garden. Dilute the decoction with water for this purpose and apply it to the affected plants with a spray bottle.

Oregano Essential Oil Benefits Many Ailments

Oregano Oil Benefits Many Ailments

Oregano oil is particularly rich in healthy ingredients. You can use it as a remedy for many ailments. High quality is important so that the valuable essential oils can develop their full effect.

If you suffer from nail fungus or inflammation of the cuticles, mix a drop of oregano oil in a ratio of 1:10 with another neutral oil and massage the affected area several times a day with the oil mixture.

For muscle tension, you can easily make an effective massage oil. Mix about fifteen drops of oregano oil with 100 milliliters of a neutral massage oil. Massage aching joints and tensions with the oil mixture several times a day.

For inhalation, a maximum of five drops of the oil to one liter of hot water is sufficient. Make sure that the water has a temperature of at least 176 ° Fahrenheit, so that the essential oils can develop properly.

You can fight inflammation of the mouth and throat by adding three drops of oil to a glass of water and gargling or rinsing the mouth several times a day with the mixture.

For stomach ailments, you should mix the healing oil in a 1:20 ratio with olive oil or another cooking oil and take one tablespoon of it daily.

Oregano Oil Capsules as a Practical Alternative

Alternatives: Oregano Oil Capsules

Oregano oil capsules are one of the nutritional supplements and are designed to provide your body with valuable ingredients. They contain oregano oil in powder form and are rich in essential oils.

The products offered are designed to strengthen your immune system, stimulate metabolism and support a
normal digestion. Generally, you’ll need to take one to two capsules a day to do this.

Tip: If you find the sharp taste of oregano oil unpleasant, oregano oil capsules can be a good alternative for you. In addition, the capsules allow for exact dosing.
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