Oregano (Origanum vulgare)


Oregano is an herb that has been used to preserve and add flavor to food. The leaves, stems, and flowers have been used as medicine for menstrual, lung, and stomach or intestinal disorders.
Modern herbalists recommend taking oregano oil by mouth or applying it to the skin to treat infection. Strong human evidence for any clinical use of oregano is lacking.
Oregano is thought to have antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, and insect-repelling effects, although evidence is mixed. The antibacterial and antioxidant effects of oregano are of interest to the food industry as oregano may hold promise as a natural preservative.

Related Terms

Anthocyanins, betulinic acid, catechin, carvacrol, cyanidin, cymene, dostenkraut (German), eugenol, flavonoids, gallic acid, Greek oregano, Italian oregano (Origanum x majoricum), kekik (Turkish), Lamiaceae (family), Mediterranean oregano, mountain mint, O. minutiflorum Hausskn, O. vulgare ssp. vulgare, oil of oregano, oregamax, oregano oil, oregano spirits, Oregpig®, Origani vulgaris herba, origano, origanoside, origanum, Origanum acutidens (Hand.-Mazz.) Ietswaart, Origanum compactum, Origanum compactum Benth., Origanum compactum L., Origanum cordifolium (Aucher et Montbret ex Benth.) Vogel, Origanum creticum, Origanum dayi Post, Origanum dubium, Origanum dubium Boiss., Origanum floribundum, Origanum heracleoticum, Origanum heracleoticum L., Origanum libanoticum, Origanum micranthum, Origanum microphyllum, Origanum microphyllum (Bentham) Vogel, Origanum minutiflorum, Origanum minutiflorum O. Schwarz & P.H. Davis, Origanum officinalis, Origanum onites, Origanum onites L., Origanum scabrum, Origanum syriacum, Origanum syriacum L., Origanum syriacum var. bevanii, Origanum tyttanthum, Origanum vulgare L. ssp. hirtum, Origanum vulgare L. ssp. hirtum Ietswaart, Origanum vulgare L. ssp. hirtum (Link) Ietswaart, Origanum vulgare ssp. virens, Origanum vulgare L. ssp. vulgare, Origanum x applii, Origanum x intercedens, Origanum x majoricum, P73 oreganol, phenolic glucosides, polyphenols, quercetin, Spanish oregano, Syrian oregano, Syrian oreganum, tannins, thymol, Toka oregano, Turkish oregano, Turkish Origanum acutidens, wild marjoram, wintersweet, zaatar.
Note: This bottom line does not include marjoram (Origanum majorana). This is discussed in the marjoram bottom line. The main species of interest in this bottom line is Origanum vulgare. However, due to the nature of oregano and the use of more than one species in the commercial spice, other species are discussed.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Dental procedures (prevents bleeding after tooth removal) (Grade: C)
The use of an herbal infusion containing oregano has been studied for use after tooth removal in people with hemophilia, a bleeding disorder. More research is needed in this area.
Heart disease prevention (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that oregano may improve cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. However, further study is needed before conclusions can be made.
Parasites (Grade: C)
Early study shows that taking oregano oil by mouth for six weeks may help treat some parasite infections. While promising, further research is needed to confirm these results.
Wound healing (Grade: C)
Early study suggests that an ointment containing oregano may improve color and scar softness as well as reduce bacteria. However, more research is needed in this field.