Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HERBAL MEDICINE: Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)

Now days, we associate Oregano with pizza and spaghetti, but it was once considered a symbol of happiness, good luck and good health! We now know it also has excellent infection fighting healing properties, and contains vitamins and minerals that strengthen the immune system.


Oregano is a member of the mint family originating from the Mediterranean region. The name Oregano comes from the Greek words "oros" and "ganos" meaning "mountain joy". It appears quite often in folk lore and in historical medical texts. Considered a symbol of happiness, as well as a bringer of good luck and good health, brides and grooms were even crowned with it at ancient wedding ceremonies. After WWII, Oregano grew in popularity as a culinary herb in the United States as soldiers returned from Italy with a taste for pizza.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES & USES:

Antiseptic, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral, antioxidant, antihistimine and fungicide. It's most potent active ingredients are Thymol and Carvacrol.  Other active ingredients include: Terpenes, Rosmarinic Acid, Naringin, Limonene, Pinene, Ocimene, Caryophyllene, and E-BCP. Oregano also contains Vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, naicin, fiber, and Omega 3s. Together, these substances make for a powerful immune system booster.

Oregano has many uses.  As an oil, it can be used to treat burns, cuts, athletes foot, and fungal infections. Taken internally, it can aid in fighting off infection (most notably respiratory ailments), soothes a sore throat, and aids in digestion.  It can also be vaporized and inhaled to treat congestion. Oregano has also been used to successfully treat the waterborne infection Giardia, which is caused by parasites.. 

Oregano Tea: Pour 1 c. boiling water over 1 tsp. crushed dried leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Do not strain before drinking.

Oregano Healing Oil: Mix 10 drops Oregano Oil* into 2 Tbsp. Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Apply to affected area liberally 3x per day. 

Oregano Steam Treatment: Add 1 Tbsp. of Oregano leaves to a bowl of steaming hot water. Place a towel loosely over your head and inhale steam.

Oregano Antiseptic Cleaning Spray: Combine 2 drops Oregano Oil*, 5 drops Lemon Oil, 1/8 c. White Vinegar, 1 gallon water. Pour mixture into spray bottle.

*Purchase Oregano Oil from a reputable supplier. Be sure your oil was obtained from "Origanum Vulgare" or the spanish "Thymus Capitatus". Or, make your own- See below!

HOW TO GROW:

Oregano is a hardy perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10. It can be grown from seed sown outdoors after danger of frost has passed, or from stem cuttings. Seed should be sown on the soil surface in full sun. Seed germination, depending on soil temperature, is roughly 14-21 days. Thin seedlings to 12 inches apart. Soil should be well drained and nutrient rich. Oregano can be grown in a container with proper drainage and brought indoors to overwinter in cooler climates. It can be overwintered outdoors by mulching with straw or fallen leaves. Divide older plants when they become too woody or begin to die in the center.


HARVEST AND PRESERVATION:

Use pruning shears to cut back stems to the ground and remove leaves for fresh use. Never cut back more than 2/3rds of the plant. You can dry the leaves by either hanging the stems with leaves in tact in loose bunches in a dry, ventilated area away from direct sunlight, or by removing the leaves from the stems and placing them in a dehydrator set to 95 degrees for about 8-10 hours. Oregano can be frozen by packing ice cube trays with chopped leaves and pouring water or oil over them, but I only recommend this method if you intend on using it for soups, sauces or stews.

DIY Oregano Oil: To make your own Oregano Oil, pour olive or coconut oil over a jar full of fresh oregano leaves. Place the jar in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Place the jar in a sunny window for 2 weeks.  Shake the jar once daily. After 2 weeks, strain the oil and store in a dark colored bottle in a dark, dry place.

**SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Pregnant women should avoid Oregano Oil. Dilute Oregano Oil before using on skin.

*** All information intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions***