Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Herbal Medicine

This article discusses the medicinal uses, health Benefits, side effects and warnings of Oregano.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an important culinary herb commonly used as food flavouring for its aromatic, slightly bitter taste famously used in the Italian- American cuisines. More than that, oregano has established itself in folkloric medicine as relaxant, antibacterial and can boost the immune system. Studies suggests that it is high in antioxidant that can help prevent cancer.


Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare

Also knows as:

Oregano (Spanish.), Suganda (Tagalog.), Torongil de Limon (Spanish.), Zuo shou xiang (Chinene.)

Oregano is more popularly known for its aromatic and balsamic flavor and is commonly used as mint flavoring in Mediterranean and Mexican foods.

oregano leafOregano is considered as a perennial plant that grows in warm temperate areas and is native in India, western and southern Eurasia and Mediterranean countries. Oregano was later introduced and cultivated in the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Oregano grows from 20–80 cm tall, with opposite heart-shaped leaves 3 to 9 cm long. Oregano flowers are purple, 3–4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative O. majorana is then known as sweet marjoram.

Oregano Traditional Health Benefits

Oregano as used as herbal medicine has its earliest beginnings even in early Egyptian times and has been traditionally used as herbal remedy for skin burns, cuts and bruises. Because of the minty flavor of oregano, it is also used as herbal remedy for sore throat, asthma, colds, coughs and flu.

Other traditional health benefits from Oregano.

Antiseptic and fungicide. Oregano leaves and flowers are used to treat cuts and burns. Oregano contains thymol, a crystalline substance that has antiseptic and fungicide properties.

Respiratory and stomach ailments. Oregano tea is taken as herbal medicine for respiratory and stomach ailments.

Treatment for Colds, Fever and Indigestion. Oregano oil extracts are taken to alleviate symptoms of colds, mild fever, and indigestion.

Antioxidant Oregano is known to have antioxidant properties that can protects against damaging agents.

Relaxant. Oregano tea is believed to have a soothing effect and helps in getting restful sleep.

Pain reliever. Tea made with oregano is also used to relieve flatulence [gas problems] and menstrual pain. Oil derived from oregano leaves offers relief from toothaches by rubbing a few drops of oregano oil on the teeth and gums after every meal and at bed time to reduce bad breath.

Source of fiber. The oregano herb is also a good source of fibre. [A diet high in fibre helps manage weight, reduces risk of colon cancer and increases breakdown of cholesterol in the body].

Source of Vitamins and minerals. Oregano is a relatively good source of calcium, iron, manganese, Vitamin A, C and K. [However, because the quantity consumed is very less, one cannot depend on oregano as a wholesome source of vitamins and minerals].

Sinus Inhalant. The minty aroma of Oregano is used as a steam inhalant that helps clear sinuses.

Acne and pimple treatment. Oregano oil helps in controlling acne and pimples. Add two drops of oregano oil to any face wash when cleaning your face [recommended: twice daily].

Arthritis, swelling and muscle pains. Externally crushed oregano leaves are mixed with oats and hot water and pounded into a paste. When applied over swelling, itching and aching muscles can ease pain. It also provides relief when rubbed on affected joints [twice daily] in case of arthritis.

Dandruff and lice control. A few drops of oregano oil rubbed on the scalp at night help control dandruff. You may experience a mild warming sensation, which is normal. Wash off with a shampoo next morning. Oregano oil helps remove lice from hair.

Oregano oil helps cure infections of fingernails.

Asthma attach prevention. Oregano oil when rubbed on the chest and inhaled as vapors directly from the bottle several times in a day, helps clear the passage in cases of asthma.

Scientific Studies: Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Herbal Medicine

Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus

A study investigated the antiviral efficacy of oregano oil and its primary active component, carvacrol, against the nonenveloped murine norovirus (MNV), a human norovirus surrogate. Results suggest that oregano extract appeared to act directly upon the virus capsid and subsequently the RNA.  The results further demonstrate that carvacrol is effective in inactivating MNV within 1 h of exposure by acting directly on the viral capsid and subsequently the RNA. Source: Journal of Applied Microbiology 2014 May.

Bio-efficacy of the essential oil of oregano (Origanum vulgare Lamiaceae. Ssp. Hirtum).

This study investigated the bioactivity of the essential oil isolated from Origanum vulgare L. (EOv). The extract was analyzed the in vivo anti-inflammatory properties in a mouse-airway inflammation model and the in vitro antimicrobial activity, genotoxicity over the anaphase-telophase with the Allium cepa strain and its cytotoxicity/viability in A549 culture cells. Results have shown that the oregano extract presents antimicrobial activity against different Gram (-) and (+) strains, measured by disc-diffusion test and confirmed with a more accurate method, the AutoCad software. It is  postulated that oregano extract presents antibacterial, antioxidant and chemopreventive properties and could be play an important role as bioprotector agent. Source:  Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2014 Dec.

Oregano Usage, Dosage

Where can I buy Oregano?

You can buy some at any grocery stores near the spices section. Oregano leaves may be available in fresh or dried forms. Oregano plant in pots can also be bought in some home depot shops or local plant nursery that can be grown in your home garden.

Oregano oil can also be in capsules form available at your local health food store, and should be taken according to the manufacturer's directions.

While naturally extracted oregano oil is harmless. Be careful of artificial oregano oils because these are toxic and are for external use only.

Oregano oil extracts, dried powder and capsules are also available in online stores such as Amazon listed is the Frontier Mediterranean Oregano Leaf.

How to use Oregano oil?

Oregano essential oil is the concentrated essence, or essential oil, of wild oregano. It takes approximately 100 pounds of oregano leaves to make a single pound of the volatile oregano oil.

Oregano essential oil can be taken internally or used externally by topically applying directly on the affected area.

Oregano Oil, Internal Use:

  • Adults, dilute 2 drops of oregano oil 120 ml of water, and take 1-2 times daily.
  • Children, dilute one drop in 120 ml of water, and take 1-2 times daily.

Juice or any other natural liquid may be used in place of water, if desired.

Oregano OIl, External Use:

One part oregano oil can be diluted with to two parts of olive oil and may be applied directly to the affected area.

If irritation of skin may occur, dilute the oregano with more olive oil. If symptoms persist, stop usage and consult a medical practitioner.

Oregano Tea Preparation

  • Chop fresh Oregano leaves
  • add 1 tablespoon for every cup of water
  • boil for 15 to 20 minutes
  • let it steep then strain
  • take one cup once a day until condition improves

Dried leaves are more potent. To make tea, steep 15g of oregano leaves in 250mL of water.

Oregano Use Warnings and Side Effects

When properly prepared and consumed in moderation or as small amount included in daily diet, Oregano is considered safe even for children and pregnant women.

However when taken more than the recommended dosage, this may result to overdose and may have the following side effects:

  • stomach upset
  • allergic reaction

Pregnancy and Breast feeding. There are no sufficient studies made to determine the side effects of oregano taken in medicinal amounts to infants and babies. Stay on the safe side, avoid taking Oregano in herbal medicine dosages when pregnant and while breast feeding.

Bleeding disorders: Oregano might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Allergies. In rare cases, Oregano herb has caused allergic reaction to people allergic to Lamaceae plant family.

Diabetes. Oregano might lower blood sugar levels. If under medication, consult your doctor before taking oregano herbal medicine.

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Article last reviewed: 10.18.2016