Oregano is considered a staple herb in many cuisines around the world. It has a strong flavor and brings warmth to dishes, along with a hint of subtle sweetness. It can be found fresh, dried or as an oil, and all are said to have significant health benefits.
Though typically used in a small amounts, oregano packs in some important nutrients. Just one teaspoon of dried oregano can fulfill about 8% of your daily vitamin K needs.
From helping fight bacteria to reducing inflammation, studies have unearthed some of its impressive potential benefits.
The Greeks and Romans associated oregano with joy and happiness. The name comes from the Greek words “oros,” meaning mountain, and “ganos,” meaning joy.
There are diffirent types of oregano. The most common type is Oregano vulgare. Also known as Spanish thyme and wild marjoram.
People use oregano in the diet as supplements and as an aromatic oil.
People around the Mediterranean region have used oregano for centiries in herbal medicine to treat many ailments, including:
●to boost overall health
Scientists need to do more research to confirm the benefits of using oregano, but there is some evidence that it could help:
●regulate blood sugar and lipids
Oregano and other herbs provide antioxidants. Dietary antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals, which are toxic substances that result from natural processes and environmental stresses. A buildup of free radicals can trigger oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to cell damage that may result in various diseases, including cancer and diabetes.
■ ANTIBACTERIAL PROPERTIES
The main components of oregano essential oil are carvacrol and thymol. These may have antimicrobial properties.
● In a 2019 laboratory study, carvacrol and thymol prevented various strains of Staphyloccus aureus (S.aureus) bacteria from developing in meat and dairy products, suggesting that it could help control bacterial growth in foods.
● Amid growing concerns about diseases becoming resistant to antibiotics, researchers carried out lab test to investigate the effects of oregano oil on various microbes that do not respond to other drugs.
● The oil showed “significant antibacterial activity” against 11 such microbes. This suggest that substances in oregano could play a role in fighting diseases that no longer respond to antibiotics.
● While these test indicate that compounds in oregano may have antibacterial properties, it does not mean that eating oregano will prevent infections.
■ ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES
● according to one literature overview, the oil and constituents of oregano oil, such as thymol and rosmarinic acid, appear to have anti-inflammatory properties.
● In animal studies, oregano extract has reduced inflammation that could lead to:
● it is worth noting that the studies used concentrated extracts of oregano. This is not the same as humans eating oregano in the diet.
■ HEALTH BENEFITS OF OREGANO
● Rich In Antioxidants
¤ Oregano is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help fight damage from harmful free radicals in the body. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
¤ Several test-tube studies have found oreganomand oregano oil are high in antioxidants.
¤ Oregano essential oil is especially high in carvacrol and thymol, two antioxidants that can help prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals.
¤ In combination with other high-antioxidant food like fruits and vegetables, oregano could provide a hearty dose of antioxidants that may help improve your health.
● May Help Fight Bacteria
¤ Oregano contains certain compounds that have potent antibacterial properties.
¤ One test-tube study showed that oregano essential oil helped block the growth of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two strains of bacteria that can cause infection.
¤ Another test-tube study found that oregano and antimicrobial activity of oregano, sage and thyme essential oils. Oregano was one of the most efficient essential oils against bacteria, second to thyme.
¤ Current research is limited to test-tube studies that have used concentrated amounts of this herb. Thus, further research is needed to determine how these results could affect humans.
● Could Have Anti-Cancer Properties
¤ Oregano is high in antioxidants. These compounds can not only neutralize free radical damage, but they may also aid in cancer prevention.
¤ Some test-tube studies have shown that oregano and its components may help kill cancer cells.
¤ One test-tube study treated human colon cancer cells with oregano extract and found that it stopped the growth of cancer cells and helped kill them off.
¤ Another test-tube study showed that carvacrol, one of the components in oregano, also helped suppress the growth and spread of colon cancer cells.
¤ However, keep in mind that these were test-tube studies using high amounts of the herb and its compounds. Human studies using typical doses are needed to determine its effects.
● Protecting Against Cancer – some of the ingredients in oregano may have anticancer properties..
¤ Scientists have found evidence that extracts may help prevent DNA damage in cells due to oxidative stress, radiation, and mitogens, a type of protein that can cause unwanted cell division.
¤ Researchers have also found evidence that carvacrol and thymol may prevent melanoma cells from growing and skin cancer from spreading.
¤ While eating oregano by itself is unlikely to prevent cancer, a varied, plant-based diet that is rich in antioxidants may help prevent cell changes that can lead to cancer.
¤ In 2013, lab studies suggested that origanum majorana could help slow or stop the progression of metastatic breast cancer.
¤ Compounds in oregano may help manage type 2 diabetes. Authors of a 2016 rodent study concluded that origanum extract may help:
~ improve insulin resistance
~ regulate the expression of genes that affect fat and carbohydrates metabolism
~ restore damaged liver and kidney tissues
¤ The authors noted that some people already use oregano leaves and oil to manage high blood sugar levels.
¤ Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Experts do not know what causes it, but oxidative stress may play a role.
¤ In 2015, researchers found that an extract of oregano improved type 1 diabetes in mice. They suggested this could be due to oregano’s antioxidant properties, its effect on the immune system, and its ability to prevent cell death.
● May Help Reduce Viral Infection
¤ In addition to fighting off bacteria, some test-tube studies have found that oregano and its components may also protect against some viruses.
¤ In particular, carvacrol and thymol are two compounds in oregano that have been associated with antiviral properties.
¤ In one test-tube study, carvacrol inactivated norovirus, a viral infection that causes diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain, within one hour of treatment.
¤ Another test-tube study found that thymol and carvacrol inactivated 90% of the helpes simplex virus within just one hour.
¤ While these results are promising, additional research on how oregano may impact viral infections in humans is needed.
● Could Decrease Inflammation
¤ Inflammation is a normal immune response that occurs as a result of illness or injury.
¤ However, chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune conditions.
¤ Oregano is rich in antioxidants, which can help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation.
¤ It also contains compounds like carvacrol that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In one animal study, carvacrol reduced swelling in the paws of mice by up to 57%.
¤ Another animal study showed that a mixture of thyme and oregano essential oil reduced the number of inflammation markers in mice with colitis, or an inflamed colon.
¤ These studies looked at the effects of oregano and its components in highly concentrated amounts. Studies are needed to determine how a normal dose could affect inflammation in humans.
¤ In 2018, scientists looked at how treatment with oregano oil and other substances affected rats with depression due to chronic unpredictable stress.
¤ After 14 days, stress-related behavior improved in rats that received the oregano treatment. The study authors concluded that oregano might relieve stress-related behavior.
■ OTHER POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS
According to the National Library of Medicince, people take oregano products by mouth for:
●painful menstrual cramps
●urinary tract infections and disorders
●bleeding after a tooth extraction
People apply oregano oil to the skin for:
●canker sores, toothache, and gum disease
●insect bites and as an insect repellent
●muscle and joint pain
There is not enough evidence to support the medicinal use of oregano as a dietary herb, supplement, or oil in most of these cases.
However, it is unlikely to cause harm in most people as long as people do not consume too much oregano oil and ensure that any topical applications use a diluted form of the oil.
There are many types of oregano, and the antioxidant and nutrient content can vary widely.
The table below shows some of the nutrients in one teaspoon (tsp), or 1 gram (g) of dried oregano leaves.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Oregano is an herb that boast some pretty potent benefits when it comes to your health.
It is high in antioxidants and may help fight off bacteria and viruses, potentially reduce the growth of cancer cells and help alleviate inflammation.
However, current research is limited to test-tube and animal studies. Further research is needed to determine it potential effects in humans.
Oregano is versatile, easy to add to your diet and can be incorporated into a wide variety of recipes in either fresh, dried or oil form
References: healthline.com /medicalnewstoday.com