Oregano has a very long history of use in folk lore. It has been used for culinary purposes, medicinal reasons, and was believed to hold magical properties as well. Much of its use in the past is still how it is used today. 1Ancient Greeks believed that oregano was a useful poison antidote and was used extensively both internally and externally as a fomentation to treat skin irritations and infections, dropsy, convulsions, and as an antidote for narcotic poisons. Traditional Chinese healers have also used oregano for generations to treat a variety of complaints. In Shakespearean times, oregano was used for just about anything. It is said to encourage good luck and good health. It is used in spells for happiness, tranquility, luck, health, protection and letting go of a loved one. It is believed that when worn on the head during sleep, it will promote psychic dreams. Oregano symbolizes joy. It is said to banish sadness and why not with its sweet fragrance and velvety leaves. 2It is used for rituals celebrating joyful occasions, or in spells to bring joy into one's life. It is believed if carried in a sachet or charm it will bring good luck and good health. It has also been used in love potions and rituals to enhance an already existing love relationship. A tea or incense is used for any of the above as well as for letting go of a loved one whether it be a husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or anyone else that it hurts to leave. Growing oregano near your home is said to protect it from evil forces. It can also been carried as a charm for the same purpose. Plant Oregano around your house for protection, and scatter it inside the house to protect it as well. Early Greeks and Romans crowned married couples with it. Oregano is a symbol of honor. Oregano was thought to be precious to the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, Goddess of love. It was said to comfort the dead when it grew on their grave. 3An old wives tale says “if you anoint yourself with oregano before sleeping, you will dream of your future spouse.” From Gerard's Herbal (1545-1612-English): "Organy cureth them that have been poisoned by drinking Opium, or the juice of Black Poppy or Hemlock, especially if it be given with Wine and Raisons of the Sunne". Strewn on the ground, it will repel snakes. It is said to ease toothache. Dried leaves mixed with honey to fade bruises. It has also been used by dairy farmers as food for the cows, goat, and sheep to keep milk sweet, hence the name “Sweet Marjoram“. In ancient Egypt oregano was used as both a preservative and an antidote to poison. In the eighteenth century, it was considered to be a useful remedy for coughs and asthma. In the western culture oregano is generally associated with spaghetti and pizza, but it has so much more value then just flavor for our foods. Mentioning oregano immediately brings to mind tomato sauces and Italian cooking. For culinary uses sweet marjoram is the mildest of all species. It is some what interchangeable with oregano. Just remember oregano is stronger, and to use less if the recipe calls for marjoram. All the varieties of oregano are interchangeable in food preparation and accompany soups, herb bread and tomato dishes well. Oregano is used in the cuisine of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Caribbean and Mexico. It is a traditional herb in poultry seasoning and is used in turkey stuffing. The flavor combines well with garlic, thyme, parsley, and olive oil. Oregano can be used fresh or dried. Oregano, like other herbs, loses its distinctive flavor during cooking as the volatile oils evaporate, so always add it in the last few minutes. Use oregano in salads, casseroles, soups, sauces and poultry dishes. And, of course, pizzas! Dried oregano has a stronger flavor and goes especially well with tomatoes and rice dishes.
4The flowering tops yield a dye, formerly used in the country to dye woolen cloth purple, and linen a reddish brown, but the tint is neither brilliant nor durable. The tops are also sometimes put into table beer, to give it an aromatic flavor and preserve it, and before the introduction of hops they were nearly as much in demand for ale-brewing as the ground ivy or wood sage.
The aromatic properties of the plant were prized and it was used in various foreign perfumes. 5Parkinson tells us, “swete bags, swete powders and swete washing water made from this plant were widely uses.” According to Mrs, Grieves “Our forefathers also scoured their furniture with its aromatic juices, and it is one of the herbs mentioned by Tusser (1577) as used for strewing chambers.”
1 Page 521. Mrs. Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Volume 2. Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1971.
2 Page 154. Diane Morgan. The Charmed Garden. Findhorn Press. Scotland, UK. 2004
3 Genot Katzer. Oregan (origanum vulgar). Get Fire Fox. http://www.uni-gray.at/akater/eng/orig-vw.html. 3/20/2006.
4Page 521. Mrs. Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Volume 2. Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1971.
5Page 521. Mrs. Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Volume 2. Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1971.