Oregano is a member of the Lamiaceae family and can be found in many dishes. It is also used to make oil of oregano, which has been linked to health benefits including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oreganos are available fresh or dried, and can be used in a variety of recipes, either whole or chopped, for a savory herb flavor. Oregano can be added to sauces, marinades and meat rubs. It is a common ingredient in pizza and pasta dishes. It is also used to add a Mediterranean flavor to salad dressings and soups. The oil of oregano is used as a medicine and has been shown to be effective in treating parasites, gastrointestinal issues, fungal infections and inflammatory conditions.
The oil of oregano contains the antioxidants thymol, carvacrol and limonene. These antioxidants, along with other herbs like thyme and rosemary, help to neutralize free radicals in the body that can cause cell damage and lead to chronic diseases. (1)
In lab tests, oregano has been shown to kill some food-borne bacteria and prevent bacterial growth in foods. One study showed that oregano oil prevented the growth of Staphyloccus aureus, a bacteria often found in meat and dairy products. (2)
The anti-inflammatory properties of oregano are due to its high content of the essential oils thymol and carvacrol. In a study that examined the effects of oregano on gastrointestinal symptoms, participants who supplemented with 600 milligrams of oregano oil for six weeks experienced a significant reduction in their digestive problems. The researchers believe that the oil is able to control Entamoeba hartmanni, Endolimax nana and Blastocystis hominis parasites that cause intestinal discomfort.