Oregano, or Origanum vulgare, is cultivated worldwide and is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is a gorgeous flowering plant belonging to the mint family. Oregano grows in the temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and in the Mediterranean region and is commonly added to Italian cuisine.
This magic herb contains several natural compounds that may promote health and healing, including carvacrol, thymol, and terpinenes. The oil of this plant is extracted by drying the leaves and stems and then steam-distilling this plant matter to extract the beneficial compounds and plant’s oil. Research shows that oregano oil may have many health benefits, including its ability to boost the immune system by fighting certain types of bacteria. Research shows that carvacrol, one of the main compounds in oregano oil, may be effective in fighting certain viruses commonly associated with upper respiratory and other infections. This oil may also have anti-inflammatory properties. A study conducted in 2007 found that a combination of thyme and oregano oils reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (molecules released by immune cells that increase inflammation). This discovery can be attributed to carvacrol, a primary constituent in oregano oil.
Additionally, oregano oil is high in beneficial antioxidants, which help defend the body against free radical damage. Free radicals can build up in the body through exposure to toxic environmental factors including air pollution and cigarette smoke. Clearly a significant antioxidant powerhouse, oregano delivers 3 to 30 times the antioxidant levels as compared to other herbs and up to 42 times the antioxidant level of apples. Oregano oil is extremely concentrated and power-packed with antioxidants. It may also be diluted with another oil, such as olive oil, prior to use.