Oregano Uses: Do You Know Them All?

In this episode, Julie discusses common and not so common oregano uses. Join her to discover culinary and medicinal oregano uses along with some growing tips.In this episode, Julie discusses common and not so common oregano uses. Join her to discover culinary and medicinal oregano uses along with some growing tips.

Historical Oregano Uses

Origanum vulgare, or Greek Oregano as we know it (although it’s sometimes called Wild Marjoram), has a long history. Since it is native to the Mediterranean area, the first recorded use is by the Greeks. They believed that this herb was created by the goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of joy growing in her garden.  In fact, the word “oregano” comes from the Greek words oros, for “mountain,” and ganos, for “joy” meaning “joy of the mountains”. And so, they thought it was a good omen if it grew on someone’s grave and among both Greeks and Romans, they crowned newlyweds with it as a symbol of joy and peace. In addition to symbolic uses, other oregano uses were for medicine such as an antidote to narcotic poisons, stopping convulsions, and for dropsy (what is now known as edema).

Discover some additional historic uses and beliefs about oregano on the podcast.

Culinary uses

Today, one of the most popular oregano uses is as a staple herb of Italian cuisine. It is also widely used in Greek food and other Mediterranean cuisines. You can also find it in Latin American and Turkish dishes. It is most frequently used in roasted, fried or grilled vegetable and meat dishes, including fish. Its popularity in the U.S. began when soldiers returning from World War II brought back with them a taste for the “pizza herb”, which had probably been eaten in southern Italy for centuries.

Gardening and Growing Tips

If you want to enjoy culinary or medicinal oregano uses, take care that you are getting true oregano and not marjoram. True oregano is Greek oregano, wild oregano is often marjoram and plants grown from seed are also often adulterated with marjoram, so make sure you get a reliable source. Grow in full sun in hardiness zones up to about zone 5 (although that’s pushing it) Grow it in pots so you can overwinter it indoors. Needs well drained soil. To make sure that it keeps producing leaves for you, don’t allow it to flower. Leave about 4-6 pairs of leaves and pinch off the tips above that. That will make the plant bushy, too.

Modern Medicinal Oregano Uses

Oregano has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, expectorant, and stimulant properties. The most common oregano uses include bacterial infections of the GI tract and respiratory system. However, it is also a stimulating diaphoretic useful for colds and flu, antiseptic gargle/mouthwash for inflammations of mouth and throat, treats infected cuts and wounds and can help with pain such as tension headaches and rheumatism. Only use for acute issues. Long-term use can alter liver metabolism.

Nutritionally, oregano is a significant source of Vitamin B6, C, E, and K, folate, manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron. And oregano is full of antioxidants, more than any other herb in the mint family.

On the podcast, Julie talks about several modern scientific and medical studies that explore other possible oregano uses. Listen in!

Warnings

Tisserand and Young warn that Oregano Essential Oil is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, oregano oil irritates mucus membranes and you should use caution when using it on the skin. There are additional warnings about oregano uses on the podcast.

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