The Medicinal Side of Oregano
By Ken Babal C.N. – Healthy Living Article
one of the most popular culinary herbs in the world. The Greeks,
Italians and Spaniards were first to fall in love with this warming,
aromatic herb. Used since ancient times, it is characteristic of
Mediterranean cuisine, especially tomato dishes. And while you may
think of oregano as a kitchen herb, you should know that it has an
impressive array of health-promoting and medicinal applications.
The Greeks made compresses from the leaves of
oregano to treat sores and aching muscles. In China, doctors
prescribed it to relieve fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and itchy
skin. Herbalists now prescribe oregano for a host of conditions
including respiratory problems, such as coughs and bronchitis, as well
as bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. It is also
considered a remedy for colds, flu, allergies, sinusitis, candida
overgrowth, bloating, gas, urinary tract disorders and painful
Oregano was hardly known in the United States until
the twentieth century, when soldiers returning from Italy brought word
of this fragrant herb home with them. Today, you can find it in
vitamin stores as an herbal supplement.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is one of the best
antioxidant herbs. Scientists have identified 28 known antioxidants in
oregano that help to prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures.
In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger antioxidant
activity than two synthetic antioxidant preservatives (BHT and BHA)
commonly added to packaged foods. On a gram-per-gram weight basis,
oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than
apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4
times more than blueberries!
Oregano is nutrient-dense, offering appreciable
amounts of calcium, iron, manganese, vitamins C and K, beta carotene
and omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains numerous bioactive
substances including carvacrol, thymol and rosmarinic acid. Carvacrol
is the strongest antimicrobial compound in the oil. It also helps to
relieve bronchial spasms and loosen phlegm in the lungs. Thymol, a
water-soluble constituent, has antiseptic and fungicide properties.
Many commercial remedies, such as cough drops and Vicks VapoRub,
contain thymol. Rosmarinic acid is a natural anti-inflammatory and
blood thinner. Not surprisingly, it is also abundant in rosemary.
A Potent Infection Fighter
Oregano is one of the most potent antimicrobial
herbs ever tested. A recent study at Georgetown University Medical
Center showed that its essential oils are effective against Staph
aureus, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, H. pylori and Mycobacterium.
Authors of the study stated that because of its long-standing safety
record, oregano alone or combined with antibiotics might prove useful
for preventing and treating severe bacterial infections, especially
those that are difficult to treat, such as antibiotic-resistant
Another study evaluated the antimicrobial activity
of essential oils from anise, angelica, basil, carrot, celery,
cardamom, coriander, dill weed, fennel, oregano, parsley and rosemary.
Inhibition of selected pathogenic microorganisms ranged from complete
with oregano to no inhibition with carrot oil. Greatest inhibition of
pathogens was obtained with oregano oil. In an experiment with a
supercritical fluid extract, Candida albicans was the most sensitive
of six microbial species to the extract.
Oregano contains a broad array of anti-inflammatory
compounds. It has long been recognized that inflammation is a root
cause of many chronic conditions, such as asthma, arthritis and other
painful “itis” diseases. Scientific evidence now supports the idea
that chronic low-grade inflammation is a factor in coronary heart
Among oregano’s numerous anti-inflammatory compounds
are several potent inhibitors of cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme
that produces a hormone-like substance that creates inflammation.
COX-2 is essential for fighting infections and healing injuries, but
when the body produces too much the result is chronic inflammation and
pain. COX-2 inhibition has been hailed as the next big medical
breakthrough because it may prevent cancers of the bladder, colon,
esophagus and skin. The question is how COX-2 can be inhibited safely.
Aspirin is a COX-2 inhibitor that also reduces stickiness of blood
platelets. Thus, it helps prevent strokes and heart attacks, as well
as relieves pain. Unfortunately, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
(NSAIDs) can have very serious side effects, as was the case with some
of the “super aspirins” that were pulled from the market. So far,
pharmaceutical companies have not been able to duplicate what herbs do
so well—that is, modulate COX-2 safely and powerfully without creating
an imbalance in the body. Examples of these herbs are green tea,
ginger, turmeric, holy basil, chamomile, Chinese goldthread, barberry,
Baikal skullcap, Japanese knotweed, rosemary, hops, feverfew and, of
Beware of standardization processes. The quality of
oregano leaf extract is often judged by its carvacrol content. There
are, however, other components that contribute to the herb’s
remarkable biological effects. An extract that only delivers
oil-soluble constituents will fail to capture the synergy present in
the whole herb. Through a combination of premier organic sourcing and
novel extraction techniques that have eliminated use of any toxic
SuperCritical Oreganoforce from
New Chapter delivers all of oregano’s valuable compounds.
Supercritical Herbal Extraction
supercritical extraction process developed by New Chapter
employs water, alcohol and compressed carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is a
normal component of the air we breathe and is absorbed by plants. No
chemical solvents are used. They extract and highly concentrate the
herb’s ingredients as much as 250 times. New Chapter does not isolate
or spike their extracts with additives. As a result, the wisdom of
nature is preserved with all of the herb’s complexity and organic
nuances. Their mission is to bring nature to you as it is, in all of
its healing complexity as represented by their certified organic
ginger and turmeric farm in Costa Rica, adjacent the Children’s
For more product information on SuperCritical OreganoForce, Click
The SuperCritical Extraction of Oregano is also
included in the following New Chapter herbal therapeutic products:
Ken Babal has a nutrition counseling practice in Los
Angeles and is author of several books on health, healing, and
nutrition including Good Digestion: Your Key to Vibrant Health (Alive,
2000) and his food-based work Seafood Sense: The Truth about Seafood
Nutrition and Safety (Basic Health Publications, 2005).
1. Preuss HG Minimum inhibitory concentrations
of oregano essential oils for gram-positive and gram negative
bacteria. Mol Cell Biochem, 2005 Apr;272(1-2):29-34.
2. Elgayyar M Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants
against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. J of Food
Protection: 2001 Vol.64 pp. 1019-24.
3. Santoyo S Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of Origanum
vulgare L. compared for antimicrobial activity. J Food Prot. 2006
4. Lagouri V Nutrient antioxidants in oregano. Int J Food Sci Nutr
5. Martinez-Tome M Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean spices
compared with common food additives. J Food Prot 2001 Sep;64(9):
6. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2000 Thomson Medical Economics at
Montvale, NJ pp. 559-560.
The statements contained in this article have
not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The
information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure,
or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this
article are for information only and should not be interpreted as
medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive
purposes. Readers are encouraged to consult their health care provider
before beginning any cleanse, diet, detoxification program, or any
supplement regimen. The information in this document is not to be used
to replace the services or instructions of a physician or qualified
health care practitioner.