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Native to Northern Europe and cultivated for centuries, it is now grown world wide. It has a strong flavour, pleasant aroma and significant health benefits. Unusually, the flavour of the dried herb is more intense than that of the fresh leaf.
Oregano has stong antibacterial properties. It contains essential oils thymol and carvacrol which inhibit the growth of many bacteria, some of which cause food borne illness. Mexican researchers found oregano more effective in treating giardia than the commonly prescribed drug tinidazol.
Oregano is one of the most potent sources of antioxidant vitamins thought to play a role in the prevention of many cancers and slowing the aging process. Properties and uses include:
- carminative (prevents the formation of gas in the alimentary tract or eases its passing)
- cholagogue (promotes the discharge of bile from the system)
- diaphoretic (inducing perspiration)
- emmenagogue (agent that regulates and induces normal menstruation)
- expectorant (dissolves thick mucus and is usually used to help relieve respiratory difficulties, dispel mucus from the lungs)
- stomachic (beneficial to the stomach and digestion) and mildly tonic
- palliative for sore throat