Oregano – Wild Marjoram

The herb oregano (origanum vulgare), also sometimes still known as wild marjoram, is now used mainly to flavor pizzas and other food, and as a tea, but has a long history as a medicine, and continues to be used that way, especially in the form of oregano oil supplements.

A herbal from the early 20th century notes that the properties of the oil are stimulant, carminative (expels flatulence), diaphoretic (promotes sweating) and tonic, and that it is a useful emmenagogue (stimulates menstruation). It was also used to relieve the pain of dyspepsia (indigestion). (1)

The website Examine.com, which looks at the scientific evidence behind modern dietary supplements, notes that there is some evidence that a few of the traditional uses of oregano are now known to have some merit, as oregano contains thymol, which helps to relax stomach and throat tissues, so helping digestion.  The oil is also antibacterial, so it may ward off infections, and is an antioxidant. (2)

The antioxidant properties of oregano have been investigated directly by nutritionists, who assessed the role of culinary and medicinal herbs in the diet in an article in the Journal of Nutrition, and concluded that:

” Our results demonstrate that there is more than a 1000-fold difference among antioxidant concentrations of various herbs. Of the dried culinary herbs tested, oregano, sage, peppermint, garden thyme, lemon balm, clove, allspice and cinnamon .. all contained very high concentrations of antioxidants (i.e., >75 mmol/100 g). In a normal diet, intake of herbs may therefore contribute significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants, and be an even better source of dietary antioxidants than many other food groups such as fruits, berries, cereals and vegetables.” (3)

Oregano oil is also promoted and used for other purposes including as a nutritional supplement, for relief from allergies, for weight loss through the action of carvacrol, which it contains, and for aches and stiffness. (4)

WebMD notes even more uses of oil of oregano as a medicinal treatment , for conditions like arthritis, earaches, and fatigue, and as an ointment for athlete’s foot, dandruff, warts, ringworm, psoriasis, rosacea, for insect bites and as an insecrt repellent. (5)

In that WebMD page it is worth reading the uses people have put oil of oregano to themselves in the Reviews section, while claiming it has been effective in helping them.¬† It seems to be particularly helpful with cold sores, sinus pain and ear pain, for yeast infections, eye infections, UTIs (urinary tract infections), joint inflammation and strep throat.¬† Many of these results must be due to oil of oregano’s antibacterial¬† properties.


  1. M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 1931, pp 520-521; she calls the plant ‘wild marjoram’, not oregano.
  2. http://examine.com/supplements/Origanum+vulgare/
  3. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/5/1286.long
  4. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/10-uses-organic-oregano-oil/
  5. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-644-oregano.aspx?activeingredientid=644