Anyone who has eaten a pizza must know of oregano. It is a popular condiment used in Italian food. However, very few people know about the essential oil of oregano, a concentrated fluid packed with powerful nutrients and compounds that offers a great deal of health benefits. The organic oregano oil has many properties including antifungal and antibacterial. Let’s first understand oregano.
So, what is oregano?
Oregano is obtained from a flowering plant that has the botanical name Origanum vulgare. It belongs to the mint category of plants and was used as a flavoring herb for many years. It was erstwhile found in the European countries, but as soon as the world started to enjoy the flavor of oregano and knew about its benefits, it was soon harvested in the other parts of the world as well. It was used to garnish food items in the Roman civilization. The medicinal benefits of the herb were popularized by the Greek civilization. In fact, the term oregano is derived from the Greek words oros which means mountain and ganos which means joy.
How do you make oregano oil?
Making oregano oil involves collecting the leaves and shoots of the plant and drying it, usually through air drying. Oregano essential oil is then extracted in the concentrated oil form by a process called steam distillation. The essential oil is mainly for topical application and aromatherapy; it is not to be ingested. However, there are some versions of oregano oils that can be consumed.
What makes oregano oil special?
The terenoids, terpenes and the phenols – these are the compounds present in the oil that gives the oil its properties, including its fragrance. Here are some of the compounds in the oil: –
- Rosmarinic acid – This is a potent antioxidant. And what do antioxidants do? They eliminate free radicals from the body.
- Thymol – It is a phenol with a strong aroma and good antiseptic properties.
- Carvacrol – Oregano oil is mainly composed of carvacrol which has proven antioxidant characteristics. It is currently being researched for anticancer uses.
The medicinal (and other) properties of oregano oil come from these compounds. So, now look at some of the oregano health benefits.
1. It has antibiotic properties
Because of the presence of the compound carvacrol, oregano has the power to fight and eliminate bacteria. Some of the commonest forms of infections are skin infections and food poisoning, and the bacterium that causes it is the Staphylococcus aureus. The research was conducted on mice to observe the effect of carvacrol on the bacterium. One group of the mice was given oregano oil and the other was given regular antibiotic medicines. It was seen that the group that had oregano oil had a better survival rate than the one given an antibiotic. Further research was conducted that showed that in some cases oregano oil was better at treating infections when the bacteria were antibiotic-resistant. More research is needed to substantially prove the efficacy of essential oils in health care. Oregano oil is no different. Although the compounds in oregano oil have health benefits, more research is needed to vehemently prove it.
2. It can reduce cholesterol
Studies have shown that using oregano oil can lower cholesterol levels in the body. People with high cholesterol were divided into two groups. One group was advised to make lifestyle and diet changes, and the other was given oregano oil as a supplement. After three months each group was examined and it was found that the group that took oregano had more good cholesterol than the group that made lifestyle changes. Another research on the effect of carvacrol on mice showed that the cholesterol levels in mice decreased after two months. Hence oregano oil can be used to reduce the levels of cholesterol in the body.
3. It is a potent antioxidant
Too many free radicals in the body can age a person quicker. It can also result in several diseases such as cardiovascular disorders and cancers. Antioxidants are the body’s shield and weapon against these free radicals. Free radicals are naturally formed in the process of metabolism. However, environmental factors such as pollution and lifestyle habits such as unhygienic food can increase the presence of free radicals in the body.
Oregano, thanks to its ingredients, has high levels of antioxidants. In fact, out of several other essential oils, oregano oil has the highest level of antioxidants. The Rosmarinic acid in the oil is responsible for the presence of such high levels of antioxidants. Oregano oil also has more antioxidants than some healthy fruits and vegetables. Oregano oil is a concentrated version of oregano, hence a few drops of the oil is enough to give the body a good dose of antioxidants.
4. It’s good for the stomach
Oregano has been used as a condiment for ages because of its flavor and the health benefit it gives for the gut. Some of the common issues caused are stomach pain, flatulence and diarrhea. A study conducted on older people with gut problems concluded that those who took oregano regularly for six weeks had lower symptoms of stomach issues and were more energetic due to better digestion and lack of discomfort. Oregano has also been proven to treat the case of leaky gut. Oregano oil fortified the gut wall over time and prevented the symptoms of leaky gut.
5. It has good anti-inflammatory properties
Although oregano essential oil may not be the best anti-inflammatory essential oil, it is still very effective in treating inflammation-related issues. It works well when mixed with other essential oils. For instance, mixing oregano oil with thyme essential oil could reduce the inflammation caused by colitis. Carvacrol, yet again, is the reason for the anti-inflammatory properties of oregano.
6. It is an effective analgesic
The analgesic effect of oregano is mentioned at the end because the legitimacy of this property is yet to be substantiated. However, oregano oil has been used on mice in several experiments and the outcome has been positive. In some cases it worked better than painkillers. So, it is better to use the organic oil of oregano to mitigate pain than OTC medicines. Currently, research is ongoing to find out the right quantity of oregano oil to be consumed to lower pain.
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