Oregano is a spice used mainly for pizza sauce and Italian dishes. This herb from the mint family is widely used in cooking and it is highly appreciated for its delicious flavor, but not many people know that it also provides some health benefits.
The herb oregano originates from Europe and the Mediterranean region. It is particularly used in Italian, Spanish, Greek and Turkish cuisine, as well as in Latin America. The culinary uses involve fresh or dried leaves of this herb that is easily cultivated in the garden or in a pot.
It is a common mistake to presume that oregano and oil of oregano come from the same plant. The fact is the common oregano, used as a spice, comes from the plant called Origanum marjoram, while the oil is obtained from Origanum vulgare.
As for the plain oregano, it is always better to use it fresh. That way its flavor will be finer and more subtle, and it will also contain more beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Dried oregano is easier to store and use and its flavor is somewhat stronger.
About oregano oil
The plant used to obtain oil of oregano is called wild oregano or Origanum vulgare. Its main health benefits derive from the two main compounds found in this natural extract, carvacrol and thymol. These compounds have positive effects on the overall health and they are especially valuable because of their ability to fight harmful microorganisms.
Carvacrol is a natural phenol with strong anti-microbial properties. The flavonoids in oregano oil provide antiseptic action, while long chains of hydrocarbons have anti-inflammatory properties.
It is believed that oregano oil can help with a number of ailments, especially inflammatory conditions like sinusitis, bronchitis, cold, flu, sore throat, lung congestion and similar.
Oregano oil is also beneficial against skin ailments, like irritated or itchy skin and acne, and it soothes irritated gums. It can be used to alleviate the rashes, insect bites and allergies.
This oil can be obtained in form of capsules, which, aside from oregano oil, often contain water, gelatin and rice bran oil. They should be taken before meals or before going to bed at night.
Oregano oil is also available in form of liquid, which can be applied topically. Liquid oregano oil can be used to treat skin ailments, to prevent infection of cuts and scrapes, on acne, eczema, insect bites and similar. The liquid is suitable for oral consumption too, and it can be used to treat a sore throat and to improve the immune response during viral infections.