Oregano, an important Mediterranean herb that imparts a wonderful aroma and taste to dishes is mostly popular as a culinary ingredient. Not many people know that this herb does more than add flavor to food. A proud member of the mint family, oregano is highly prized not only for its culinary properties but also for its various medicinal and curative effects. The word oregano means “Mountain of joy” and is considered by the ancient Romans and Greeks as a symbol for happiness. Although oregano is widely used in Mediterranean and Mexican cooking, most people associate it with the pizza and hence this herb is also known as the pizza spice.
Oregano nutrition facts
Low in cholesterol and fat, oregano packs a nutritional punch because of the presence of several vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and many other health benefitting nutrients. It is a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, and folate. Following these vitamins is an impressive list of essential minerals like Calcium, Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Additionally this herb is a rich source of powerful phytochemicals that offer potential health benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, oregano is the herb that has the highest antioxidant potency (3 to 20 times more powerful than the other herbs that were considered for the study.) It contains essential oils such as carvacrol, thymol, pinene, limonene, caryophyllene and, ocimene.
Health benefits of Oregano
In addition to providing good flavor and essence to food, oregano claims to have a number of health benefits owing to the presence of active compounds that have antioxidant and therapeutic properties. This herb is in fact used as a remedy for treatment several health disorders. Following are some of the health benefits of this Mediterranean herb:
Antioxidant power of oregano
Most of the health benefits of oregano can be attributed to the presence of immensely high levels of antioxidants. In fact, it is the highest known source of antioxidants. One powerful antioxidant found in this herb is rosmarinic acid, a compound that sustains the health of your immune system. It also helps in preventing oxidative stress and the resulting cell damage caused by free radicals, thus lowering your risk of premature aging and also developing life-threatening diseases like atherosclerosis, heart disease, and cancer. Rosmarinic acid also exhibits anti-inflammatory effects and according to a study published in the June 2004 issue of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, the oral administration of rosmarinic acid is effective in treating allergic asthma.
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Oregano fights against bacteria and fungi
Oregano is known have powerful anti-microbial properties. Studies reveal that thymol and carvacrol, two essential oils found in this herb has the ability to inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria. According to the researchers at the University of Ogden, Utah, the essential oil obtained from oregano can effectively fight off the streptococcus bacteria that is responsible for causing pneumonia and a bunch of other infections affecting the upper respiratory system. Studies also confirm that the oil of oregano is capable of stopping the growth of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli that can cause serious diseases.
Giardia, a bacterium which gets into your body through the food you eat can cause a wide range of ailments from digestive disorders to serious health problems. Studies reveal that oregano is more effective in destroying this bacterium than the drugs that are used to get rid of it. Another study found that the essential oil from oregano kills Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), antibiotic-resistant and infectious staph bacteria that can cause many potentially dangerous infections. The essential oils of oregano have been found to be useful against certain species of Candida as well.
Oregano oil contains thymol which is common ingredient in mouthwashes. It has germ killing properties, reduces tooth pains and protects gums.
Cancer-fighting properties of oregano
Oregano is rich in phytochemicals that are known to slow the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. The extract of this herb has been found to cause growth arrest as well as cell death of colon cancer cells. Carnosol, a phytochemical present in oregano, has been studied for its anti-cancer property and showed promising results in the treatment of various types of cancers such as breast, blood, colon, prostate and skin cancers. Research also indicates that a compound known as carvacrol found in oregano stimulated apoptosis or cell suicide in the prostate cancer cells. According to US researches, oregano contains flavonoids, apigenin and luteolin that are capable of killing human pancreatic cancer cells.
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Oregano has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties
Inflammation is the natural response of your body to injury, infections and toxins. Oregano is high in beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP), a compound that inhibits inflammation, which makes it beneficial for treating conditions such as osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, as well as metabolic syndrome. Rosmarinic acid found in Oregano has been found to show anti-inflammatory action against seasonal allergies. With its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, oregano can be of great use in treating inflammatory disorders such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, acne muscle pain, psoriasis, toothaches, etc. The oil of oregano, when applied externally, penetrates deeply into the tissues and brings relief from pain of bruises, sprains, cramps, and other similar injuries. It also helps in speeding up the healing process.
Oregano aids in weight loss
Oregano oil is considered to help in improving digestive health and in increasing the metabolic rate, which may lead to weight loss. Animal studies reveal that carvacrol, the active ingredient of oregano oil, is effective in preventing diet induced obesity by modulating genes and also by lowering inflammation in white adipose tissue.
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Oregano for treating upper respiratory infections
Oregano has powerful anti-viral properties and hence is useful in treating viral infections. A spray which contains the aromatic essential oils obtained from five plants, including oregano, was found to provide immediate and effective relief from the symptoms in people suffering from upper respiratory infections. Oregano oil is considered to be a great remedy for treating the common ailments like cold and flu. This effect can be attributed to the presence of the essential oil carvacrol in oregano. This herb is also found to increase the production of sweat, which helps in detoxification of your system and in getting rid of phlegm and mucous from the lungs. Facial steam with oregano oil is often used as home remedy over blocked sinus.
Oregano aids digestion
Oregano oil is found to be helpful in stimulating the flow of bile into the digestive organs, thus improving the process of digestion. The compounds thymol and carvacrol present in oregano is beneficial in treating disorders of the digestive system. The essential oils in this herb are effective in treating intestinal parasites such as Entamoeba hartmanni, Blastocystis hominis, and Endolimax nana.
Oregano boosts your immunity
Oregano is an excellent source of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and manganese that enhance your immunity and help your body fight off the disease causing microbes. Animal studies reveal that oregano oil increases the number of white blood cells. The oil also contains a compound known as carvacrol, which helps in breaking through the outer cell membranes that protect the bacteria from your immune system. Studies reveal that oregano oil is effective in destroying bacteria and may also be beneficial in defending your body against viruses, fungi and other parasites.
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Oregano is beneficial for the heart
Because of its high nutrient content, which includes dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and many essential oils, oregano is considered to be an excellent remedy when it comes to heart health. According to studies, the consumption of the various nutrients in this herb can help in improving good cholesterol (HDL) levels and in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels. Moreover, oregano oil has also been found to help in normalizing blood pressure levels. The anti- microbial properties of oregano oil may be helpful in protecting the heart against infections.
Oregano get rids of parasites
Oil obtained from oregano contains various compounds including carvacol which acts as natural insect repellant. Few drops of oregano oil on furniture and bedsheets would keep insects way. Oregano oil is traditionally used in treating intestinal woms
Oregano oil and its uses
The anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties of oregano oil makes it a beneficial addition to your medicine chest. It can be used as a remedy for fighting off several kinds of infections. It helps in inhibiting the growth and development of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, which may cause respiratory infections. Since it inhibits the growth of E. coli, Proteus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (bacteria that may cause Urinary Tract Infections), oregano oil is considered to be effective in treating UTIs. This oil is also beneficial in treating yeast and parasitic infections. Oregano oil can be used topically (for treating nail fungus or athlete’s foot), inhaled (for treating sinus infections or colds) or placed under the tongue (for treating parasites or infections). Massage with Oregano oil is used in aromatherapy as helps calm nerves and has induces peaceful sleep.
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Benefits of oregano for skin
Oregano oil mixed with coconut oil is used topically for treating various skin disorders including itches, swelled skin, pimples and acne. It offers antibacterial and antiseptic properties for treating skin conditions. Oregano has excellent antioxidant properties. It helps keep skin aging at bay. Oregano oil is found effective in treating acnes. With its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties kit eliminates acne naturally. Applying oregano oil to feet or washing your socks with water containing oregano oil can help tereat athelete’s foot. Oregano oil is often used in spa treatment for scalp and nail fungal infections. Oregano oil is also used in face was for cleansing the face.
Oregano benefits for hair
Oregano oil is found effective in treatment of dandruff. Add few drops of oregano oil to your hair shampoo to get rid of dandruff. Oregano oil combined with other hair oils like coconut oil helps in enhancing hair growth. With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties it helps treat scalp disorders. Oregano oil also helps eliminate lice.
Oregano oil benefits of women
Oregano oil is useful for regulating menstrual cycles in women. It has been long used in treating premenstrual symptoms and delaying onset of menopause.
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Oregano has long been acknowledged as one of the super foods for its nutritional, health benefitting and disease preventing properties. According to research, oregano adorns the topmost position in the list of the most powerful culinary herbs in the world. Eating diets rich in herbs is one way of supplying your body with its requirements of antioxidants. Not only does your body get the antioxidants in its purest and concentrated form, you also don’t have to worry about too much of calorie intake that is often associated with eating whole foods. The bottom line is that herbs such as oregano when incorporated into a nutritious and well-balanced diet can provide significant health benefits.