Oregano is usually thought of as a culinary herb, but it has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Oreganos are aromatic perennial plants which have a hot, peppery taste. Most cultures around the world now use a species of oregano for culinary or medicinal purposes. Oregano is aromatic, warm and slightly bitter. 15The properties of oregano are stimulant, diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogue, expectorant, aromatic, digestive, and mildly tonic. Oregano largely varies in intensity: Good quality oregano is so strong that it almost numbs the tongue, but the cultivars adapted to colder climate have often unsatisfactory flavor. Oregano herb is prepared by tincture or infusion. Infusion is primarily a diaphoretic and emmenagogue. Some ailments oregano is used for include indigestion, bloating, flatulence, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, headaches, swollen glands, and to promote menstruation. Oregano promotes perspiration and thus treats colds, flu and fevers. Inhalations can be used to clear the lungs and bronchial passages. 16More recently the oil of oregano is becoming known for healing Candida overgrowth and dermatophyte fungal infections also known as Athlete‘s Foot. It outright destroys the fungus. Oregano contains solvents capable of disabling the fungal cell membrane. Researchers document how oil of oregano destroys all traces of dermatophytes in the test tube, and this is equally the case for human infections. Infections by dermatophytes are usually chronic, meaning the organism is well established within the host. Because it has established itself within the host cells it may take a relatively long period of treatment before the infection is eradicated. It has also been used in the past to relieve fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice. Unsweetened tea can be used as a gargle or mouthwash. Oregano offers significant antiseptic powers for the urinary tract. The active ingredient, carvacrol, acts directly upon the mucous membranes of the urinary tract and bladder, aiding in the destruction of noxious microbes. It offers the unique advantage of destroying both urinary bacteria as well as yeasts. 17In a study performed in Mexico an area in which Giardia infection is endemic, oregano was more effective in destroying Giardia than the standard drug treatment Flagyl. A kill rate of 90% was achieved against this type of organism. Other parasitic infections oregano has proven effective against are scabies, Demodex mites which are a cause of rosacea, ringworm, and cryptosporidium. Oregano is so acrid that it has been employed not only as a rubefacient, and often as a liniment, but has also been used as a caustic by farriers. A few drops, put on cotton-wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth frequently relieves the pain. In the commencement of measles it is useful in producing a gentle perspiration and bringing out the eruption, being given in the form of a warm infusion, which is also valuable in spasms, colic and to give relief from pain in dyspeptic complaints. And infusion made from the fresh plant will relieve nervous headache, by virtue of the camphoracieous principle contained in the oil. Externally, Oregano leaves can be pounded into a paste and a small amount of hot water and oatmeal can be added for poulticing. This paste can then be used for pain from rheumatism, swelling, itching, aching muscles, and sores. Liniments, ointments and compresses are prepared for muscle and joint pain, parasitic and other skin infections, and for cellulite. For tired joints and muscles, put a handful of Oregano leaves in a coffee filter, mesh bag, or cheesecloth bag and run steaming bath water over it. Allow it to steep in the tub with you as you relax in the warm, fragrant water. Compresses are prepared for infectious eczema, skin parasites and sores. The essential oil of oregano diluted with olive oil is used for toothache pain by putting a few drops on the affected tooth for relief. Oregano essential oil should only be used in topical applications of no more than 0.5% diluting. A stronger dilution can burn the skin. Studies are accumulating that oregano is a powerful antioxidant. The compounds found in oregano may help to prevent the cell damage caused by free radicals, highly unstable oxygen molecules that steal electrons from other molecules they encounter. Free radical reactions are probably involved in inflammation, degenerative arthritis and the aging process in general. Evidence is accumulating that antioxidants may help relieve osteoarthritis and RA. Research has shown that the antioxidant activity of oregano is due in a large part to rosmarinic acid, a compound with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties.
15 Peter Holmes. The Energetic Of Western Herbs. Volume 2. Snow Lotus Press, 1998, Boulder, Colorado.
16 Dr. Cass Ingram. The Cure Is In The Cupboard. Knowledge House, 2001, Buffalo Groves, Illinoise, Revised Edition.
17Dominique Baudoux. Antiviral and Antimicrobial Properties Of Essential Oils. Positve Health. Positive Health Publications. http:www.positivehealth.com/permit/articles/aromatherapy/loaid55htm. 4/26/2006.