The impressive health benefits of oregano include its ability to protect the immune system, prevent the onset of chronic diseases, improve digestion, detoxify the body, strengthen the bones, improve heart health, boost energy levels, and even protect against diabetes.
What is Oregano?
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a popular herb that many people think of as merely a spice to improve or enhance the flavor of their food, but in reality, this perennial herb has a treasure of health benefits that most people don’t realize at all. Native to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, oregano has been a valuable part of both culinary and alternative medicine treatments for thousands of years. Oregano is actually closely related to mint, and its genus is actually in the same family as Mentha. For this reason, the two share many similar organic components and have many of the same health benefits. The leaves of oregano are the most commonly used part of the plant, but strangely, the aroma and flavor of the leaves are far greater when the herb is dried than when the leaves are fresh, which is somewhat unusual for any herb.
In folk medicine and herbal remedies from Australia to Egypt, oregano has developed a popular following as a veritable cure for many health concerns, but the research to support all those claims is still pending. However, there are a number of potent active ingredients in oregano that have been deeply studied, and their effects on the body are redundant. Oregano oil is an extremely concentrated form of oregano and is used to treat a number of conditions, as it is very potent but it should always be diluted. In culinary applications, where it is most commonly seen, it is used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and curries to meat dishes, pizza, pasta, vegetables, and even salads. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the diverse and impressive health benefits of oregano.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Health benefits of oregano include:
A study conducted by Dr. Giovanna Cervato and his team of researchers from the University of Milan, Italy, concluded that the two most important components of oregano are rosmarinic acid and thymol, both of which are powerful antioxidant compounds that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are the destructive by-products of cellular metabolism that may cause cancer and other chronic diseases. Thus, adding oregano to your diet by sprinkling it on your meals can improve your immune health and keep your body safe from some of the most dangerous and silent killers.
According to a study by Kim C et al, β-caryophyllene oxide, a sesquiterpene, present in the essential oils of certain medicinal including oregano, may have an anti-cancer effect. Experiments suggested that this component of oregano inhibited cancer cell growth (Molecular Carcinogenesis 2014).
On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties, which is again due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol, stated a report published by a team of researchers from Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, USA, in the Process Biochemistry Journal. These important organic compounds can defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, the gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, resulting in the faster recovery of common illnesses.
Aids in Digestion
Oregano is packed with fiber, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!
Improves Heart Health
A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that improves your heart health. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help rebalance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes!
Detoxifies the Body
The nutrient-rich oregano, with a high content of manganese, calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and a wide range of other organic compounds, makes it an ideal herb for detoxifying the body. Research has shown that oregano can help liver function and speed up the process of toxin elimination.
Improves Bone Health
As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, so ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, and oregano has significant amounts of all of them, making it great for people who want to protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.
Increases Energy Levels
By improving the functionality of the metabolism, thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic components present in oregano, the body is rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.
Word of Caution: Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance. Also, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. Toss some oregano into your next meal and see just how beneficial it can really be!
Article Written By: John Staughton, organicfacts.net