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Oregano: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

The first thing that comes to our mind when we think about oregano is pizza. Oregano is commonly used in the preparation of pizza, and pasta and used as a seasoning. It is also said that “it’s best to think of oregano as a flavour rather than a genus or spices”, Dr Arthur O. Tucker.1 Oregano belongs to the Lamiaceae family (mint family), which includes over 200 genera. The plants of this family are mainly used for culinary, medicinal, ornamental and fragrance purposes. The oregano plant mainly grows in mountain regions with rocky, calcareous soil and is native to the Mediterranean and Eurasia. The plants grow only a few inches tall with tiny flowers which may be pink, purple, or white in colour. The leaves of oregano appear in a variety of shapes such as the oval, heart-shaped and round with a hairy-fuzzy in appearance.1 In recent days the use of oregano increased due to its health benefits and this is one of the longest-selling herbs.1 Let us discuss the importance of oregano. 

oregano benefits

Nutritional Value of Oregano: 

The total energy of 100gm oregano is 265 kcal and the nutrients present in oregano are as follows: 

Nutrient  Percentage content  
Carbohydrates  68.9g 
Fibre  42.5g 
Protein  9g 
Lipids (fats) 4.28g 
Sugars  4.09g 
Calcium  1600mg 
Potassium  1260mg 
Iron  36.8mg 
Phosphorous  148mg 
Magnesium  270mg 
Sodium  25mg 
Copper  0.633mg 
Zinc  2.69mg 
Manganese  4.99mg 
Selenium  4.5µg 

Table 1: Depicting the nutrients present in 100g of oregano2 

Also Read: Puffed Rice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

The vitamins present in oregano are as follows:  

  • Vitamin A (retinol) 
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol) 
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 
  • Vitamin B1 (riboflavin) 
  • Vitamin B2 (thiamin) 
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)2 

Properties of Oregano: 

Oregano might possess the following properties: 

  • It might be an antioxidant  
  • It might be effective against various microorganisms 
  • It might be effective against stomach parasites  
  • It might have a cholesterol-lowering effect 
  • It might help in lowering blood glucose levels 
  • It might have an anticancer potential 
  • It might reduce inflammation 
  • It might be helpful to the nervous system.3 

Also Read: Spring Onion: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

Potential Uses of Oregano for Overall Health: 

Oregano may contain different bioactive compounds, and the potential uses of oregano are as follows. 

1. Potential uses of oregano for stomach infections 

It has been seen that oregano might help in inhibiting the bacteria Helicobacter pylori which is responsible for causing gastritis in humans. A study on humans explained that the oregano might be effective against parasites causing enteric infections in humans. Therefore, oregano might be effective against bacteria and parasites causing stomach infections.3 However, consult your doctor if you have severe stomach pain or any other infections in the stomach.  

2. Potential uses of oregano for viral infections 

Studies on animals reported that oregano might have activity against the encephalitis virus. It is hypothesised that the oregano might inhibit the activity against HIVE type 1 reverse transcriptase which might interfere with the activity of the virus due to the presence of rosmarinic acid in it. Further research is required on humans to see the effectiveness of oregano against viral infections.3    

3. Potential uses of oregano for inflammation 

 Numerous researchers have seen that oregano might have the potential to alleviate inflammation. The active component thymol, which is present in oregano might be effective in reducing the release of an inflammatory marker called elastase. In addition, rosmarinic acid might also interfere with inflammatory processes and cause a decrease in the release of elastase. Therefore, oregano might be effective in lowering inflammation.3  

4. Potential uses of oregano for oxidative stress 

When compared to others, oregano might exhibit a greater antioxidant property. In studies, it was seen that oregano might have phytochemicals which neutralize the free radicals to safeguard the cells, tissues, and DNA. This might help in reducing the oxidative stress in the body which is the leading cause of many metabolic diseases. This activity of oregano might be due to the presence of various phytochemicals in it. However, the composition of different oregano species and their antioxidant property varies.3 

5. Potential uses of oregano for diabetes 

Oregano might have potential effects on diabetes. It was seen in studies that oregano might interfere with and inhibit alpha-glucosidase which is involved in glucose metabolism. Further, it is observed that when oregano is given orally to mice might help in lowering the blood glucose levels. However, such claims need to be proved by more research. Moreover, diabetes is a serious condition and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Do not self-medicate.3 

6. Potential uses of oregano for cholesterol 

Studies have shown that the bioactive components present in oregano, such as carvacrol and gamma-terpinene might be effective in reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood. It might be effective in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Therefore, it might be helpful against heart diseases also and more research is required to prove these potential effects.3  

7. Potential uses of oregano for cancer 

Some studies have shown that oregano might have potential uses against cancer. Carvacrol and rosmarinic acid present in oregano may avoid DNA damage and may also suppress the cancer cells. Thymol and carvacrol in the oregano may help in eliminating melanoma (Skin cancer) cells.  However, kindly consult a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Do not self-medicate.3 

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of oregano in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of oregano on human health.  

In my opinion, oregano might offer a beneficial advantage owing to its natural chemical content. These chemicals found in oregano may possess properties that might provide relief from cough symptoms. Thus, by incorporating oregano into your diet or using it as an herbal remedy, you may experience its cough-suppressing benefits.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Raw Banana: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Oregano? 

As we already know, oregano is one of the key ingredients in pasta and pizza. It is also known as “The Heart and soul of Mediterranean cuisine”. They are used for cooking and as flavouring agents in many dishes all over the world.1  

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking oregano or any other herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

In this engrossing study I came across, researchers explored the effects of oregano essential oil (OEO) on depression and stress-related genes in rats. They found that OEO might help reduce depressive symptoms caused by chronic stress. These findings suggest that OEO may have potential as an antidepressant, but its impact on stress-related genes requires further investigation.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Is Orzo Healthy? Your Guide to Understanding Its Nutritional Value

Side Effects of Oregano: 

Some individuals might be allergic to oregano and should not use them. Make sure that you test for allergy to oregano before consuming it. Pregnant women should also consult a doctor before consuming oregano as it might have some effects.1 

However, oregano might have side effects which need to be explored further by research. Until any specific data is found, the specific side effects of oregano cannot be stated. Furthermore, due to insufficient research, oregano cannot be declared to have any side effects as well. Therefore, kindly consult your doctor before using oregano. 

From what I have read so far, research has shown that substances found in oregano oil, such as rosmarinic acid and carvacrol, might have protective effects on the liver. In animal studies, these compounds were found to protect liver cells from lead toxicity and safeguard the liver from damage. These findings suggest that oregano oil and its components may have beneficial effects on liver health, but further research is needed to explore their potential as therapeutic agents.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Precautions to Take with Oregano:  

Ensure that you are not allergic to oregano before consuming it.1  

Pregnant women should consult a doctor and ensure that it is safe for them to consume oregano, as it might have some effect on them.1 

There are no reports regarding the effects of oregano in children, therefore kindly consult a doctor before giving oregano to children.  

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Oregano might interact with certain drugs and may alter their activity. However, no such data has been found. Therefore, there is a need for more research regarding the interaction of oregano with other drugs. Kindly ensure that you discuss the safety of consuming oregano with your doctor before consuming it. Especially if you are on medication and are undergoing treatment for any condition. 

Also Read: Ice Apple: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are oregano benefits for health? 

Oregano might have potential uses for human health, due to its antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-diabetic, and cholesterol-lowering properties. However, these potential uses need to be proved by further research. Kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.3  

2) What are the nutrients present in oregano? 

The various nutrients present in oregano are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sugars, fibre, minerals (calcium, potassium, zinc), and vitamins (A, D, E, K and B).2  

3) Can oregano be eaten by pregnant women? 

It is advised to consult a doctor and take prior medical opinion as it is seen in some studies that it might affect pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women must consult a doctor before consuming oregano.1 

4) Is oregano good for the skin? 

There are no reports regarding the effects of oregano on the skin. Therefore, there is a requirement for more research regarding this subject. 

5) Can I get an allergy from oregano? 

There have been a few reports of allergies being caused due to oregano. Therefore, you may have an allergy to oregano. It is advised that you consult a doctor and get tested for allergies.1 

References: 

1. Meyers M. Oregano and Marjoram: an Herb Society of America Guide To the Genus Origanum. Herb Soc Am Kirtland, USA [Internet]. 2005;1–66. Available from: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&btnG=Search&q=intitle:Oregano+and+Marjoram+An+Herb+Society+of+America+Guide+to+the+Genus+Origanum#0 

2. FoodData Central. Spices, oregano [Internet]. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [cited 2022 Aug 23]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171328/nutrients 

3. Kintzios, SE. Oregano. In: Handbook of Herbs and Spices [Internet]. Elsevier; 2012. p. 417–36. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B9780857090409500217 

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