Oregano is a perennial herb we all need to grow in our garden. US soldiers brought packs of “pizza herb” with them. Oregano was really popular. Truth is, it’s more than your regular pizza herb.
Oregano is native to the Mediterranean region. The Greeks were the first to use it. They believe it was created by Aphrodite as a symbol of joy. Do you know that “oregano” means “mountain joy”?
In ancient Greece, oregano was used as a poison antidote. They used it to treat infections, skin irritations and convulsions. By the Middle Ages, oregano was used to treat toothache, indigestion, coughing and rheumatism.
The aromatic herb is packed with essential vitamins like vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K as well as minerals like iron, folate, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Phytochemicals give oregano its healing power.
Dr. Mercola explains that oregano has one of the highest antioxidant ratings when compared to other plants. According to a 2003 study released in the Journal of Nutrition, “…intake of herbs [including oregano] may…contribute significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants, and be an even better source of dietary antioxidants than many other food groups such as fruits, berries, cereals, and vegetables.”
Rosmarinic acid boosts immunity and helps the body fight against diseases.
2. Vitamin K
It’s also known as the forgotten vitamin. Vitamin K has an important role in the blood clotting process. It prevents heart disease, strengthens bones and takes part in many other processes.
The lack of vitamin K may lead to osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, tooth decay, infectious diseases, brain health (dementia), and even cancers, like leukemia, lung cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer.
3. Antibacterial and antifungal properties
Thymol and carvacrol give oregano its antibacterial and antifungal effect. These oils destroy bacteria and foodborne pathogen Listeria. It’s powerful against MRSA. A group of experts have conducted a study in 2013 to prove the antibacterial effect of oregano.
“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.”
A 2001 study conducted a Maryland’s Georgetown University and released in Science Daily confirms that oregano oil is as effective as antibiotics.
Head researcher Harry G. Preuss, MD, MACN, CNS, professor of physiology and biophysics, shared the results of their efforts. “While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant further study.
The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidal’s under a variety of conditions.”
4. Anti-inflammatory effect
Beta-caryophyllene (E-BCP) blocks inflammation and helps in the treatment of metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. Oregano helps relieve pain caused by inflammatory conditions.
Oregano is often added to skin care products. You can see it listed on the side of skin toning products. You can make your own toner using fresh oregano.
Boil a handful of dried oregano leaves in three cups of water for 10 minutes. Cool your oregano tea, and pour it into a glass container. Keep it in the fridge.
6. Cold and flu
Oregano can help in cases of cold, flu and respiratory infections. Traditional healers have used it to treat respiratory issues like coughs, cold, flu, sore throat and bronchitis. Always use oregano oil.
Oregano stimulates sweating and helps the body clean itself. It removes excess phlegm from the lungs and relieves fevers. Use it to clear lungs and bronchial passages. All you have to do is add a few drops of oregano oil to almond oil, olive oil or other carrier oils. Rub the mixture on your chest. You can add the oil to boiling water or a vaporizer. Inhale the vapors and relieve your condition.
7. Pest repellent
Oregano has a strong scent and pests don’t like it. Plant it near your veggies and under your fruit trees. Add a few drops of oregano oil to a spray bottle full of water and mist your plants to repel bugs. Do you hate aphids? They hate oregano. You’re welcome.
8. Pollinators and insects
Pollinators like oregano flowers and their nectar. Plant oregano near your veggies (kale, broccoli, and collards) to protect them. Your garden needs pollinators remember?
Make your own oregano oil
Oregano oil is a bit pricey, but you can make your own at home.
You need one part of dried oregano and one part of olive/almond oil. Rinse, dry and crush your oregano. Make sure your oregano is dried completely otherwise it will become moldy.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil or almond oil
- ½ cup dried oregano, crushed
- You will also need a sanitized glass jar
Boil 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan. Turn off the heat once the water reaches its boiling point. Put the oregano and your oil in a glass jar, and put the jar in the hot water. Let it rest for 5-19 minutes.
The herb will release its good oils. Remove the jar from the hot water, and put it on a sunny windowsill for two weeks. Shake the content once in a while. Strain and transfer the oil into a sanitized jar. Keep it in a cool and dark place.
Grow and harvest oregano
Oregano is super easy to grow and doesn’t require much attention and care. It’s resistant to deer. Oregano tolerates to drought and likes hot and sunny climate. It likes well-drained soil and survives wet periods and shade. Grow it on a slope to prevent erosion.
Oregano grows up to four feet wide. Cut it back in early spring to make it look pretty. Harvest it often, and do this in the morning after the dew has dried. The concentration of herbs reaches its highest point in warm mornings. Clip the steps above a growth node.
Bundle oregano stems together, and hang the bundle in a dry and dark area. You can cover them with a perforated paper bag. You can also scatter the leaves in one layer and let them dry in a dark and cool place.