7 Proven Oregano Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Oregano is just not used to make pesto or incorporate in many Italian meals. The impressive health benefits of oregano are many and include its ability to boost the immune system, improve digestion, improve heart health, and boost energy levels.

What is Oregano?

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a popular herb that many think of as merely a spice to improve or enhance the flavor of their food; in reality, this perennial herb has a wealth of health benefits that most people don’t realize at all. Native to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, oregano has been a valuable part of both culinary and alternative medicine treatments for thousands of years. Oregano is actually closely related to mint, and its genus is actually in the same family as Mentha. For this reason, the two share many similar organic components and have many of the same health benefits. The leaves of oregano are the most commonly used part of the plant, but strangely, the aroma and flavor of the leaves are far greater when the herb is dried than when the leaves are fresh, which is somewhat unusual for any herb.

Oregano has developed a popular following as a veritable cure for many health concerns particularly in folk medicine and herbal remedies from Australia to Egypt but research to support all those claims is still ongoing.

Oregano oil is an extremely concentrated form of oregano and is used to treat a number of conditions; as it is very potent, it should always be diluted. In culinary applications, where it is most commonly seen, it is used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and curries, to meat dishes, pizza, pasta, vegetables, and even salads.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the diverse and impressive health benefits of oregano.

Health Benefits of Oregano

The health benefits of oregano include:

Boosting Immunity

A study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry and conducted by Dr. Giovanna Cervato and his team of researchers from the University of Milan, Italy, found that the two most important components of oregano are rosmarinic acid and thymol. Both of these act as powerful antioxidants that have been closely linked to reducing oxidative stress in the body. Thus, adding oregano to your diet may help improve your immune health!

Anti-cancer Potential

According to a study conducted by researchers at the College of Korean Medicine, β-caryophyllene oxide, a sesquiterpene, present in the essential oils of certain medicinal including oregano, may have potential as a part of anti-cancer treatments. Experiments suggested that this component of oregano inhibited cancer cell growth, according to research published in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesis in 2014.

Fresh oregano herb and a wooden bowl of dried oregano on a wooden table

Antibacterial Activity

While the anti-cancer potential of oregano is certainly impressive, On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties.These properties as previously mentioned are due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol, according to a stated report published by a team of researchers from Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, United States, in the Process Biochemistry Journal. These important organic compounds can help defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, resulting in the faster recovery of common illnesses.

Nutrition Facts

Spices, oregano, dried
Serving Size :
Water [g]9.93
Energy [kcal]265
Protein [g]9
Total lipid (fat) [g]4.28
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]68.92
Fiber, total dietary [g]42.5
Sugars, total [g]4.09
Calcium, Ca [mg]1597
Iron, Fe [mg]36.8
Magnesium, Mg [mg]270
Phosphorus, P [mg]148
Potassium, K [mg]1260
Sodium, Na [mg]25
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.69
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]2.3
Thiamin [mg]0.18
Riboflavin [mg]0.53
Niacin [mg]4.64
Vitamin B-6 [mg]1.04
Folate, DFE [µg]237
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]85
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1701
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]18.26
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]621.7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]1.55
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.72
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.37
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Aids in Digestion

Oregano is high in fiber with a half-gram per teaspoon, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!

Improves Heart Health

A 2006 study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that improves your heart health. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help rebalance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

Antioxidant Potential

According to a 2017 study published in the Plants Journal by a team of Mexican researchers, herbs like oregano contain flavonoids and phenolic acids that help to alleviate inflammation-related diseases, respiratory and digestive disorders, headaches, rheumatism, diabetes, and others.

Improves Bone Health

As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, causing conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. Ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals to support bone health in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, that are also found in oregano making this herb a great addition to a healthy diet for people who want to help protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.

Increases Energy Levels

Thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic components present in oregano, it may help boost metabolism, making the body feel rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.

Word of Caution: Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance. Also, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. So toss some oregano into your next meal and repeat all of its health benefits.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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