Upright perennial herb growing to about 32 in (80 cm). Has square red stems, elliptical leaves, and clusters of deep pink flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Oregano is native to Europe and naturalized in the Middle East. The plant thrives in chalky soils close to the sea. It is gathered when in flower in summer.
Aerial parts, essential oil.
Oregano contains a volatile oil (comprising carvacrol, thymol, beta-bisabolene, caryophyllene, linalool, and borneol), tannins, resin, sterols, and flavonoids. Both carvacrol and thymol are antibacterial and antifungal.
History & Folklore
Esteemed by the ancient Greeks, oregano was considered a cure-all in medieval times. It was one of the medicinal plants cultivated by early New England settlers.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Oregano and its oil are strongly antiseptic with potent activity against many bacteria and fungi, notably E. coli and Candida strains. It can aid many acute and chronic infections affecting the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, especially gastroenteritis, dysentery, bronchitis, coughs, and tonsillitis.
Both herb and oil inhibit the gut flora (bacteria naturally occurring within the gut) and have an important role to play in gut dysbiosis, a condition where the presence of harmful gut bacteria leads to symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. The diluted oil can be applied to toothache or painful joints.
Do not take as a medicine during pregnancy. External use may cause irritation of the skin. Do not take essential oil internally.