Oregano, a popular herb that you can easily grow in your garden to compliment your cooking such as sauces and pizzas, but did you know that it has many healing qualities that make this herb truly one super herb to have in your essential oils collection.
The Origins of Oregano
Oregano is a member of the mint family and is closely related to marjoram; though their flavors differ greatly. However, when it comes to oregano sold in stores it may not always be true oregano it could be an imposter, such as marjoram or even Mexican sage.
Oregano has over 40 species but Origanum vulgare is the purest form and the form that has the most therapeutic properties. Be sure when you are purchasing your oregano that it is pure oregano Origanum vulgare or Thymus capitatus which is grown in Spain.
The word oregano comes from Greek words “oros” meaning mountain and “ganos” meaning joy; giving oregano the meaning “joy of the mountain”.
Oregano is a hardy and bushy plant that can grow up to 35 inches high or 90 centimeters. Its stem is straight and covered in hair. The leaves of the oregano herb are dark green in color and oval in shape reaching a length of 0.7-1.18 inches or 2-3 centimeters. Blooms cluster at the top of the oregano branches producing pink flowers. Oregano is a perennial herb as a strong scent which is said to be powerful, spicy and camphorous in smell.
Oregano has a rich history dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times. If you look back at Hippocrates written work you will find that he wrote extensively about the many health benefits that he experienced through using oil of wild oregano.
- The first record is oregano is credited to Aphrodite. The goddess of love created oregano to give to man to bring them joy. As a symbol of happiness in ancient Greek times the bride and groom would often don a crown made with laurel of oregano to bless their union. Oregano was often placed on graves to bring peace to the dead.
- The Romans were known to use oregano as a flavoring adding it to many of their culinary dishes as well as their wine. It was also discovered that oregano helped to prevent foods from spoiling.
- The Chinese used oregano for its many health purposes. Helping to cure and prevent many common ailments such as fever, diarrhea and skin irritations.
- Those in the Middle East used oregano for its germ killing properties as well as its food preservation qualities.
- Oregano’s health benefits and uses popped up again in the 15th century when Paracelsus started to use oregano to treat many health problems such as vomiting and fungal conditions.
- Oregano had always been popular in Greek dishes but during the Middle Ages oregano was once again becoming popular in culinary ventures. With spices becoming more rare and expensive oregano, which grew wildly throughout the countryside in the Mediterranean, became popular as a cooking herb once again.
Oregano has only made its way into Western culture in the last century. It has quickly made its way into many culinary recipes and many are starting to learn of the many other health benefits that it possesses.
What is Oregano Oil Made Up Of?
The chemical make-up of oregano essential oil is quite diverse. Oregano is very high in phenols. These phenols are a natural phytochemical compound with high antioxidant benefits. Oregano contains many other powerful and helpful chemical compounds as well as other vitamins and minerals.
The two most abundant phenols in oregano are Thymol and Carvacrol, among others.
- Thymol helps to boost the immune system with its antiseptic properties making it a natural fungicide. It also helps to prevent tissue damage and helps to promote healing. It helps to shield the body from potential toxins.
- Carvacrol helps to protect the body from bacterial infections
- Other helpful chemical compounds that make up oregano are Terpenes, Rosmarinic acid, Naringin and Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP). Terpenes have powerful antibacterial properties.
- Rosmarinic acid is a natural antihistamine helping to reduce fluid build-up, allergy attacks and problems associated with asthma. It is also a powerful antioxidant helping to prevent free radical damage to the body.
- Naringin helps to boost antioxidants present in oregano oil and has shown promise in reducing the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP) helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
Oregano also contains vitamins A, C and E as well as the following minerals boron, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, potassium and zinc.
All of these chemical compounds and vitamins and minerals combined together make a powerful super herb.
Oregano Benefits for Your Health
Oregano essential oil has many health benefits. Many of the known health benefits are associated with the immune and respiratory systems but the health benefits of oregano essential oil are not limited to these two areas of the body.
Due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties it makes oregano a great fighter of infections as well as a great cleaning agent. It has been known to help prevent and treat an assortment of infections.
It also helps to deter bugs as well as helping to relieve the pain and rash that can be associated with bug bites or rashes from allergic reactions. Oregano also helps to heal many different types of skin conditions while helping to ease the aches and pains of muscles and joints.
It seems that the benefits to ones health through the use of oregano essential oils are almost endless; hence why oregano is a powerful super essential oil.
15 Oregano Essential Oil Uses for Daily Wellbeing
As an Anti-allergenic: Due to oreganos sedative and anti-inflammatory properties it helps to decrease the hyper-sensitivity the body has towards external stimulants that cause allergies. This allows the user to reduce the severity of their allergic reaction.
Learn more: 9 Essential Oils for Allergies
As an Anti-bacterial: Oregano helps to protect the body against bacterial infections due to its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. It helps to prevent infections in many of the body’s systems such as the digestive system and respiratory system along with helping to prevent infections in the urinary tract or on the skin.
As an Anti-fungal: Oregano helps to prevent fungal infection both inside and outside the body. It helps to not only prevent and protect the body from these infections but oregano also helps to heal the infection if it present in or on the body. This prevention and healing of fungal infections is due to the antiseptic and antibacterial properties that are present in oregano. Diluting oregano essential oil in a carrier oil and rubbing over the foot 2-3 times a day will help to relieve the symptoms and get rid of athlete’s foot; adding a few drops to baking powder and sprinkling in your shoes will give added protection as well.
As an Anti-inflammatory: Oregano helps to heal and soothe inflammation throughout the body. It helps to heal inflammation and pain which can be associated with a cold or flu but can also help heal a sore muscle from exercise or strain. It helps to increase blood circulation helping to reduce redness and irritation especially when applied topically.
As an Antioxidant: Oregano is a very powerful antioxidant. Not only does oregano protect the body from free radicals but it also helps to repair the damage that was done by free radicals to the body. It also helps to slow down the aging process and helps to protect the body against muscle degeneration.
As an Anti-parasitic: Oregano helps to keep parasites at bay, especially those that love to feed on the human body. When ingested oregano can help to get rid of and prevent internal parasites such as round or tape worms. When applied topically oregano helps to rid the body and prevent external parasites such as lice or mosquitoes from attacking. Oregano is found in many organic and natural bug sprays. Combining a drop of oregano essential oil with a carrier oil and placing it under the tongue and holding it for a few minutes before rinsing the mouth will help to treat parasites in the body.
As an Anti-viral: Oregano helps to prevent and protect the body against viruses that can attack the system. It helps to strengthen the immune system to help prevent these viruses from being caught. It also helps to heal the body if a virus is caught; helping to increase production of white blood cells.
As a Digestive Aid: Oregano helps to stimulate the digestive tract to increase the production of digestive juices. It also helps to increase the absorption of nutrients and enzymes as they move through the digestive system. Oregano will help to rid the digestive system of bacterial infections, toxins and other digestive discomforts that may arise. It also helps to reduce the inflammation that can sometimes arise in the stomach due to infection or other digestion ailments. Oregano also helps to reduce the production of gas in the stomach.
For Emotional Well-being: Oregano is said to help a person let go. Helping a person to learn non-attachment, allowing the person to let go of the need to be right while not hurting or diminishing their pride. This allows the person to dive into life and go with the flow of it while allowing them to let go of common blocks that previously stood in their way. In other words it helps to calm the body and mind allowing a person to be more at ease with themselves and the world around them, allowing them to take life as it is without having to over think things.
As an Immune System Aid: Oregano helps the body combat against infection and disease by stimulating the body to increase produce of white blood cells. These white blood cells are the body’s natural defense against infection and disease so with the increased production of these cells not only can the body protect itself from getting infected it can also help to rid the body of the infection. Taking oregano essential oil orally or applying it topically to the chest can help to protect the body or rid the body of the infection or disease.
A Potent Insect Repellent: Mixing oregano essential oil with a carrier oil or salver and rubbing over your body can help to repel insects. You can also up oregano essential oil in a spray to spray over your body as well. However, if you do happen to get a bug bite applying oregano essential oil directly to the bite will help to reduce itching and relieve the pain and inflammation associated with bug bites.
As a Menstrual Aid: Oregano helps to not only regulate a woman menstruation but it also helps to delay the onset of menopause in women. With menstruation it helps to bring relief to the common symptoms associated with a woman’s time of the month. With menopause it helps to relieve and reduce the side effects associated with it such as mood imbalances and hormonal shifts.
A Strong Respiratory System Aid: Oregano helps to clear out the respiratory system during a cold by helping to loosen up and eliminate the build-up of mucus and phlegm in the respiratory system and sinuses. It also helps to soothe the throat and lungs which is very beneficial during coughing fits while trying to bring up the mucus and phlegm out of the lungs. Not only does oregano help to aid in respiratory system ailments it also helps to prevent them from occurring. Place a few drops of oregano essential oil in steaming water and covering your head with a towel will help to relieve the congestion and help to break up the mucus and phlegm in the lungs.
As a Skin Aid: Oregano helps to aid in many skin ailments such as warts and skins tags, psoriasis and rashes. Due to oreganos anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties it makes sense why it is such a good healer and helper with skin problems. By simply applying oregano essential oil to the affected area topically can help to reduce the problems to the affected area. With warts and skin tags after a few days the wart will begin to shrink and the skin tag will fall off. With psoriasis the symptoms are greatly reduced; applying not only topically but ingesting can help to greatly reduce the symptoms. Oregano can also help to reduce itching caused by a rash helping to cool and control the itching. Oregano has been known to help with dandruff and acne as well. Helping to kill bacteria and moisturize the affect area.
Read more: 5 EO Recipes for Dry, Cracked & Flakey Skin
For Weight Loss: Oregano not only helps to boost the immune system which can help in weight loss it also helps the body to get rid of unwanted body fat. In other words it helps to increase the amount of brown fat and muscle while help to decrease the amount of white fat that is deposited throughout the body.
Read more: 7 Essential Oils for Cellulite
5 DIY at Home Oregano Recipes
Oregano is not only amazing in pasta sauces and on pizza but the essential oil is great for other home uses such as healing to heal the body during a cold or helping to rid the body of a fungal infection.
- You can use oregano essential oil in a diffuser to cleanse the house and your respiratory system of unwanted infections by simply placing 3-4 drops in your diffuser. This can help to clear up a respiratory infection as well as helping to rid the household’s air of any possible bacteria or virus that could potentially harm the body.
- You can take oregano essential oil daily to help the body boost its immune system as well to help rid the body of unwanted infections or parasites by drinking 1 drop diluted in at least 4 oz. of water daily. This will help the digestive system rid the body of unwanted toxins and infections; also helping to increase the body’s own immune system to rid the body of possible respiratory infections.
- You can apply oregano essential oil topically to an affected area by mixing 1-2 drops of oregano in with a carrier oil or a salve and applying to the affected location 2-3 times daily. This will help with sore muscles as well as helping to rid the body of a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot.
DIY Household Cleaning Spray
- 10 drops oregano essential oil
- 14 oz. water
- 16 oz. spray bottle
- Fill the spray bottle with 14 oz. of water
- Put in 10 drops of oregano essential oil
- Close bottle with and secure with spray bottle nozzle
- Shake well before use
Dreadful Skin Salve
- 2 cups carrier oil (argan, coconut,sesame, sweet almond, jojoba, grapeseed, macadamia)
- 10 drops oregano essential oil
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- Glass jar with lid
- Using a double boiler (if you do not happen to have a double boiler fill a pot with water and a heat resistant glass bowl) heat together the 2 cups of carrier oil with the ¼ cup of beeswax
- Mix well and ensure they are mixed and dissolved together
- Add the essential oils while hot, 10 drops oregano essential oil and 20 drops lemon essential oil
- Remove from heat and pour into the glass jar; once cooled seal the jar with the lid
- Apply as needed
Immune Boosting Blend
- 40 drops lemon essential oil
- 20 drops Frankincense essential oil
- 20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
- 15 drops oregano essential oil
- 15 drops Thieves essential oil
- 15 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix all the oils together in a dark bottle. Make sure it is mixed well and then apply to your feet or chest and back to help boost your immune system especially in cold and flu season or when you are feeling a little under the weather.
Yummy Veggie Dip
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 drop basil essential oil
- 1 drop oregano essential oil
- Dash of salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with veggies.
Italian Bread Dip
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar – to taste
- ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- 1-3 drops oregano essential oil – to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with Italian bread.
Some More Interesting Facts about Oregano
Oregano has a very interesting history throughout the known world’s history. Dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times and flowing all the way to today. Oregano has an interesting history as a culinary dishes as a flavourful herb and spice as well as having multiple medicinal uses.
- Introduced to the world by Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as she gave the herb to man to invoke joy and happiness.
- Has a rich history is Greece; from foods to medicinal uses
- The Romans took the herb and used it in cooking and in their wines
- The Chinese used the herb to treat fever, jaundice, stomach ailments and skin irritations.
- The Middle East used the herb to preserve their food as to kill germs.
- Alchemist Paracelsus used the herb to treat all sort of skin and body ailments.
- Used in many perfumes
- Used three different ways to treat the body, aromatically, topically and ingesting.
- Is considered a hot oil meaning it can burn or cause irritation when used undiluted.
- There are over 40 species of oregano.
- It can sometimes be confused with marjoram.
- Source of many essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and E and minerals calcium and iron.
- The oil is golden or dark yellow in color having a strong spicy scent.
- Is a powerful cleaning agent due to the antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties it has.
- High in antioxidants.
- Helps to keep the skin soft and smooth; reducing the aging process.
Possible Side Effects and Cautions When Using Oregano
Oregano does not have too many side effects or cautions that you need to be aware of. However, since oregano is what is called a “hot” oil. This means that oregano can cause serious irritations or burns if not properly diluted especially to those who have sensitive skin and/or mucus membrane.
Caution should be used for those with sensitive skin or mucus membranes due to the fact that oregano is a “hot” oil. It should always be diluted, however, if not diluting be sure to apply with a Q-tip to avoid burning or irritation.
Cautions should be used around children and pregnant women due to the burning and irritation that oregano essential oil can cause. If you use oregano essential oils and are trying to conceive or are already pregnant be sure to consult your doctor as oregano does increase blood circulation which can affect the uterus and it can also deteriorate the lining that holds the fetus in the womb.
For some oregano essential oil may cause stomach discomfort; thus may be due to an allergy. If you are allergic to Lamiaceae or the mint family of herbs avoid or limit your use of oregano essential oil as it is a part of the mint family.
Use caution and avoid contact with the ears, eyes and any other sensitive areas of the body. If one of these body parts comes into contact with oregano essential oil be sure to contact your doctor immediately.
What to Look for When Purchasing Oregano
Not all essential oils are made equally. This is so very true when it comes to oregano essential oil. With over 40 species of oregano a poorer quality of oregano can be harvested and used in essential oils. You want and need to be sure you are getting the best quality essential oil to ensure optimal health benefits when you use it.
- Be sure you purchase wild oregano or Origanum vulgare harvested from the Mediterranean. This is the purest form.
- Thymus capitatus harvested from Spain is also pure form.
- Look for a bottle with 80% carvacrol content as this is the main ingredient in oregano.
- Look for organic products to ensure its purity and reducing the risk of unwanted chemicals.
- Look for it in liquid form.
- Be sure the bottle you purchase is dark in color and with a cap not an eye dropper. If the lid is an eye dropper switch out to a regular cap.
It should be noted that each harvest will be a bit different from the last due to weather changes, climate changes, precipitation and other environmental factors. Be sure you purchase your oregano essential oil from a reputable company who harvests their crop at the correct time, distills their herbs correctly and packages them in proper dark bottle.
How to Make Oregano Essential Oil
Making oregano essential oil at home is typically done through distillation. Here is what you will need to complete the process at home:
- Oregano leaves – chopped or crushed
- Oil – your choice: olive, almond or grape seed
- Sterilized jar and lid
When making your own oregano oil at home be sure to follow the instructions closely to ensure a quality product.
- In a pot bring water to a boil. Once the water has reached the boiling point turn off the heat.
- In the sterilized jar put in your choice oil along with the chopped or crushed oregano.
- Place the jar in the hot water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. As the oil in the jar begins to heat up it will help to draw out the natural oils from the oregano.
- When the time is up remove the jar from the hot water and place in a sunny window for 1-2 weeks. Be sure to shake the jar every couple of days.
- Once the contents in the jar have cured enough strain the oil from the debris (leaves) in the jar. Be sure to strain the contents of the jar into a new sterilized jar.
- Store the essential oil in a cool and dark place.
- If you wish to preserve the oil for a longer period of time add some grapefruit seed oil to the oregano oil.
Hopefully you have found this article informative and helpful! If you have any questions, comments or recommendations of your own please let us know in the comment section below.