Oregano is a member of the mint family that produces a strong aroma in the mouth when the herb is ground. It has numerous health benefits and is commonly used for flavoring sauces, soups, stews and chili. The Latin name of oregano is “Valerianum officinale.” The oil extracted from the oregano herb is also used for several other purposes. It can be added to tuna salad or cooked into dishes such as pasta and rice.
Oregano is one of the most well-known and popular medicinal herbs but unfortunately, it has some undesirable properties. Although it has been widely recognized and used as an effective medicine, oregano may cause side effects and worsen conditions related to the stomach, including stomach ulcers. Also, the volatile oils produced by the herb may cause irritation to the nasal passage and throat if consumed. Because of these side effects, it is not recommended to take oregano if you suffer from stomach problems. In some cases, dried extracts of oregano have been injected to temporarily relieve nasal congestion and to ease cold symptoms.
Oregano is considered an innocuous herb but what most do not realize is that it contains natural chemicals that could be dangerous to the body if taken in large quantities over a long period of time. One of the chemicals contained in oregano is carvacrol, which is an antioxidant found in red wine and grape skins as well as in peanuts, chocolate and tea. It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and has been tested in studies to help prevent and stop bacterial growth. Antibacterial and antiviral drugs are also produced by carvacrol. A few clinical studies showed that use of carvacrol decreased the number of bacteria present in the mouth of cattle and in incubated human oral epithelioid plaque.
However, while oregano does contain carvacrol, studies showed that very small amounts of the herb lead to damage to the liver and spleen cells, possibly causing cancer. For this reason, it is not recommended to use oregano for treatment of cancer. There are many other herbs that have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, including echinacea, thyme, cardamom and cinnamon. Erythromycin, a common antibiotic, can also cause toxicity when used topically on the skin. While many of these products can be purchased over-the-counter, the level of carvacrol and other active ingredients may be too high to be safe for oral consumption. If you suspect that you are suffering from a serious ailment, please speak with your health care provider before starting a home remedy based on oregano.
Oregano oil is most commonly applied as a topical ointment or liquid, either applied directly to the skin or taken orally in capsule form. Oregano contains an antiseptic compound that keeps bacteria from clinging to the surface of the skin and thus causing irritation. Oral applications of the herb help to keep the surface smooth and allow the antiseptic properties of the herb to work more effectively. Oregano should not be confused with oregano gum, which is essentially just a flavored version of the herb. The dried herb is however still very potent, with many people experiencing great results from its use.
To reap the health benefits of oregano, you must dry and grind the dried herb in a coffee grinder, which will produce a concentrated herbal solution. To apply the solution to the skin, simply mix a few drops of the herb with a little water. There are many recipes online that outline different ways to incorporate the herb into daily life and improve wellness.