Origanum vulgare, better known as oregano, is a plant that is attributed with a large number of health benefits.
More than 20 species of oregano are reported, the greatest concentration of this crop is found in the Mediterranean area and in some regions of South America, although this plant enjoys worldwide fame, as it is cultivated in home gardens, especially for use in cooking.
Beyond its recognized culinary aspect, the medicinal side of oregano deserves to be told so that everyone knows its therapeutic benefits.
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What is oregano?
Oregano is an aromatic plant of the Lamiaceae family, which is used in the preparation of many dishes to enhance the flavor of foods, but it is also excellent for relieving colds or flus.
Its name derives from the Greek terms oros, meaning “mountain”, and ganos, “joy”, which alludes to the colorfulness it brings to mountain slopes when it blooms wild. It usually grows in forest margins in the mountains of some areas of the Iberian Peninsula
Since ancient times, oregano has been valued for its medicinal properties. The Romans, for example, knew of the power of this plant to treat nervous problems and joint pains. In the Middle Ages, on the other hand, it began to be used as a treatment for liver diseases and to disinfect the environment during epidemics.
Characteristics of oregano
The oregano plant is a small shrub that can grow up to 45 centimeters tall.
As for the oregano leaves, which measure between 2 and 5 centimeters, they are opposite and oval in shape, have entire and slightly serrated edges with a little hairiness on the upper side.
Its flowers, white or red in color, are small and are born a little tight and branched
Nutritional value of oregano
The following nutrients are found in 100 grams of oregano:
- Calories. 335 kcal
- Carbohydrates. 49,5 g
- Fiber. 42,8 g
- Protein. 11 g
- Fat. 10,3 g
- Potassium. 1670 mg
- Calcium. 1580 mg
- Magnesium. 270 mg
- Phosphorus. 200 mg Phosphorus. 200 mg
- Iron. 44 mg
- Sodium. 15 mg
- Vitamin A. 690 mg
- Vitamin E. 18.9 mg
- Vitamin B3. 6.2 mg
- Vitamin B6. 1,04 mg
Properties of oregano
Among the properties of oregano are the following:
- Digestive tonic. It is very useful to awaken the appetite, relieve gastrointestinal spasms, flatulence and diarrhea.
- Expectorant and antispasmodic. It is usually indicated to treat mild asthmatic attacks, bronchitis, pharyngitis and flu-like processes.
- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It is a good natural remedy to relieve toothache, earache and pain caused by joint inflammation.
- Antioxidant. Due to its components of phenolic acids and flavonoids, tannins, rosmarinic acid and oils such as carvacrol, thymol and origanene it contains, it is recognized for its antioxidant properties, making it very effective in preventing premature aging.
- Antiseptic and antimicrobial. It is believed to have a great potential to eliminate viruses that can be transmitted through food.
- Aphrodisiac. This is due to its active ingredients carvacrol and thymol, which improve blood circulation in the genital area. Its pleasant taste and aroma also has a positive influence on emotions, by contributing to the release of dopamine in the brain when ingested with meals.
Benefits of oregano
The properties of oregano enable it to improve many aspects of the organism, among them the following:
- It relieves some respiratory problems. It has demonstrated its effectiveness to improve severe cough, asthma symptoms and other respiratory problems, due to its expectorant capacity.
- It is a natural slimming agent. It contributes to weight reduction, as it stimulates the secretion of bile, emulsifies fat and eliminates it from the body
- It is a potent natural antibiotic. Many studies have determined that this plant has exceptional antibiotic properties. Its compound carvacrol is capable of eliminating bacteria, fungi, and toxins that may exist in the body.
- It has antitumor activity. A team of biologists have suggested that oregano has anti-cancer activity that may help stop the cell cycle that causes tumors, although more studies have yet to be done to back up these claims.
- Improves symptoms of diabetes. Some doctors note that combining oregano and rosemary may help treat high blood sugar levels. The polyphenols and flavonoids present in oregano also help fight inflammation.
Uses of oregano
Fresh or dried oregano is prepared as an infusion, tincture, liquid extract, capsules, suppositories, creams and in bottles of essential oil. These are the uses of some of its presentations:
- Tonics and creams. Oregano is an ally of healthy skin. Its use in tonics and creams to take advantage of its antiseptic and antioxidant properties, allows fighting acne and eliminating blackheads. It is also used to combat cellulite in flaccid areas of the body.
- Infusion. This infusion of oregano has carminative properties
- Essential oil. It is often used to cure the flu and the common cold, as well as to treat pain and inflammation.
- Hair products. It is used in a range of products to treat itchy scalp and dandruff. In addition, it can help improve the condition of hair, making it stronger and healthier.
What are the contraindications of oregano?
Before using oregano in any of its presentations for medicinal purposes, medical assistance is required. The following are some of its contraindications:
- The essential oil by mouth should be avoided by pregnant women, lactating women and children under six years of age.
- It is contraindicated in patients with gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, gastroduodenal ulcer and liver disease.
- Oregano in high quantities is toxic for the organism, in fact, it can be considered that in excess it works as a narcotic.
- Its consumption is not recommended for people with anemia, since certain substances present in its composition could inhibit the absorption of iron by the body
From home gardens in many parts of the world, oregano imparts its healing benefits to which a naturopathic doctor.