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Origanum vulgare is the commonly known spice oregano, a pungent and versatile culinary herb common to Italian and other Mediterranean cuisine. Along with origanum, the plant contains several other compounds, including phenol, borneol, pinene, thymol, carvacrol, terpineol, linalool, bisabolene, geranyl acetate, linalyl acetate and trace esters. Origanum contains the highest proportion of phenol than any other aromatic plant, making it highly antiseptic. Known primarily for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, it has many devotees, most of whom laud it as a cure-all as well as a preventative treatment for seasonal illness. Steam distilled from the leaves and the flowers of the plant, it produces a pale, thin, amber-yellow liquid with a medium-strength middle fragrance note. Its aromas are warm, camphorous, spicy, savory and herbal, and whether using for medicinal, antibacterial or culinary purposes, a tiny bit of this powerful essential oil goes a long way.
Origanum essential oil in history
Origanum is native to Greece and Italy, but it grows wild all over Europe and the Americas, where the hardy perennial manages to grow in even the most challenging climates. It is a member of the marjoram family, and so close in aromatics and appearance that one is often confused for the other. In the bible, oregano was one of the medicinal plants given by God to the human race. Its use in medicine can be traced back 3,000 years to the Assyrians, and during Greek and Roman times it was the most commonly used herb for treating and preventing a range of illnesses. The name originates from the Greek language, a combination of the words ‘oros’, or joy, and ‘ganos’, or mountains. Hippocrates wrote much about oregano, and was one of the first to note its powerful antiseptic qualities. Besides its clinical and culinary use, oregano was also used for spiritual purposes during Greek and Roman times: it was planted around grave sites to watch over the dead, its dried leaves were carried for good luck, it was planted around the home to ward off evil spirits, and it was often a component of magical pagan charms composed for the purpose of achieving happiness. It did not become popular in North America until the mid 20th century, when it is thought that soldiers returning from the war in Europe had developed a taste for it. Today, it is a staple in spice racks everywhere, and for most, its familiar and comforting scent remains a powerful appetite stimulant.
Origanum oil uses
Origanum vulgare is one of the most widely available and versatile essential oils, a definite must-have in your aromatherapy repertoire.
Digestive: stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes and increases digestibility of nutrients in food, so it can help you get the most out of the foods that you eat.
Antioxidant: neutralizes free-radicals in the body and repairs damage that has already been done. This action can help to slow the aging process, and protect against a range of age-related diseases including macular degeneration, vision loss, hearing loss, and certain cancers.
Anti-parasitic: effectively kills parasites in the intestines and elsewhere in the body.
Insect repellant: keeps bed bugs, lice, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas at bay.
Anti-inflammatory: reduces internal and external inflammation, including skin irritations from insect bites, eczema, psoriasis and rashes.
Antifungal: protects the body from fungal infection, inside and out and can be effective in treating athlete’s foot and ringworm.
Immune booster: strengthens the immune system and helps to build resistance to disease
Expectorant: loosens, breaks up and helps you to expel phlegm from the lungs and sinuses.
Respiratory ailments: soothes inflamed throat and esophageal passages and helps to prevent coughing fits.
Decongestant: relieves chest and sinus congestion to help you breathe easier.
Analgesic: has shown itself to be as powerful as any prescription painkiller on the market for many types of pain, both chronic and acute.
Menopause/menstrual regulation: has been known to delay menopause and relieve the accompanying symptoms, such as mood swings and hormonal imbalance. Will also regulate the menstrual cycle and ease discomfort of PMS.
Allergy relief: reduces hyper-sensitivity towards external stimulus and may calm allergic reaction. Its anti-inflammatory action also reduces the severity of allergic symptoms.
Kills gastric bacteria: eliminates bacteria in the gut and intestines caused by e-coli, and other types of food-borne microbes.
Culinary: a versatile herb in many types of cuisine, but probably most recognizable on pizza and in tomato based pasta sauces.
Origanum vulgare is highly irritating to the skin, and can cause severe irritation if used undiluted. Be sure to heed all recommended dilution factors, and test on a small area of your skin until you know your tolerance. Avoid contact with the eyes, the inner ears and mucous membranes. It should also be cautioned that overuse of oregano oil can kill the good bacteria in your gut as well as the bad. Ultimately, you want to maintain an alkaline balance in the body, so high daily doses are not recommended: in all of its various applications, a little goes a very long way. If you are allergic to mint, marjoram, sage, basil or lavender, you might be allergic to oregano as well. If you are pregnant, you should avoid origanum essential oil, as it is a hormonal stimulant and has the potential to cause contractions that may lead to a miscarriage.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.