Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is a popular herb that many people think of as merely a spice to improve or enhance food flavor, but in reality, this perennial herb, with the scientific name of Origanum vulgare, has a treasure of health benefits that most people donâ€™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 an herb.
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Native to Europe and naturalized in the Middle East, oregano is widely cultivated as a culinary herb. Oregano is an upright perennial herb, growing to about thirty-two inche,s but can reach heights of six feet. It has square, red stems, elliptical leaves, and clusters of deep pink flowers. It thrives in chalky soils near the sea, and is gathered when in flower during the summer. There are about forty different plants known as oregano.
In folk medicine and herbal remedies from Australia to Egypt, oregano has developed a popular following as a veritable cure for many health concerns, but the research to back up all of those claims is still a topic of debate. However, there are a number of potent active ingredients in oregano that have been deeply studied, and their effects on the body are redundant. Oil of oregano is an extremely concentrated form of oregano and is used to treat a number of conditions, but it should always be diluted, as it is very potent. 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, letâ€™s dig a little deeper into the diverse and impressive health benefits of oregano.