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Herbal profile

Namealso known as (Common) Dost, Wild Marjoram, Wild Balsam, Motherwort, Mountain Mint, Blue Haze, Orant, Cheerful (Wohlgemut), Müllerkraut
Latin nameOriganum vulgare 6 subspecies known
Traditional useIn folk medicine, oregano is mainly used as a tea for coughs, sore throats and infectious or cramp-induced gastrointestinal disorders. In humans, chewing oregano can help with toothache and poultices are also used. In homeopathy, it is used to treat nervousness and sexual hyperexcitability. In aromatherapy, oregano has a balancing and calming effect.
Scientifically proven effect(s)Contains 4% essential oil with carvacrol, terpinene thymol and thymoquinone. Also contains flavonoids, tannins, bitter substances, triterpenes and rosmarinic acid. Has antimicrobial (fungicidal, antibacterial), antiparasitic, antioxidant, anticoagulant, antimutagenic, blood vessel-forming and antihyperglycaemic (antidiabetic) effects.
ContraindicationsDo not use during pregnancy, as oregano was used by Greek physician, Hippocrates, to accelerate labour.
When is it collected?During flowering (April to September) the herbaceous perennial can be cut almost to the ground.
Which parts of the plant are used?Leaves and flowers
How is it prepared?Can be used fresh or dried, fed directly or infused as a tea. Oregano poultices for external use.
TriviaThe name “oregano” is probably derived from “oros ganos”, which means “mountain joy”, as oregano likes to grow in mountainous terrain and its strong scent can cover entire mountain slopes in the sun. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal purposes due to its strong antimicrobial effect and as a symbol of luck and prosperity as well as for cleaning rooms. It was placed in bridal shoes and tied into bridal bouquets as protection against evil forces. In some cultures, it is still regarded as a symbol of luck, love and harmony. Most people will know it as a pizza spice.

History and occurrence of oregano

The name Oregano, which comes from the ancient Greek, was translated into English from the Italian “origano”. The origin of the name is unclear, according to some sources there are translations such as “joy of the mountain”. The plant originates from the Mediterranean region and is now cultivated worldwide in warm and temperate latitudes. However, wild oregano can also be found on many sunny mountain slopes in the Alps, for example. The plant is mainly found in warm locations and calcareous substrates, but can also be found in sparse oak and pine forests or along roadsides and forest edges. Pollination is mainly carried out by honey bees, but butterflies also appreciate the sugar-rich (76%) nectar, which is why oregano hums and buzzes and makes a valuable contribution to insect conservation.

In folk medicine, the name “dost” is commonly used, which in the Middle Ages was primarily regarded as a plant to ward off witches and was used to protect against the devil. It is also said to make sorrow disappear and make people cheerful again, which is why the plant is sometimes called “Cheerful (Wohlgemut)” in older writings. Oregano has been used as a medicinal plant or in the kitchen for 300 to 400 years and it is hard to imagine life without it. In the past, beers were also brewed with oregano and other spirits were flavoured with it.

Therapeutic use of Oregano

Oregano was already known to the Greeks as a medicinal plant. Hippocrates used the plant to speed up childbirth and to heal haemorrhoids. In modern herbal medicine, oregano is used in tea blends to treat infectious or cramping stomach and intestinal complaints. Oregano is also used to treat diseases of the upper respiratory tract due to its anti-inflammatory ingredient carvacrol. Oregano is becoming increasingly popular in medicine, as oregano oil also has a potent effect against many multi-resistant strains of bacteria and can therefore be used instead of antibiotics, especially for staphylococcal diseases.

Use of Oregano in horses

Since the administration of antibiotics to livestock has been more strictly regulated, livestock farmers have begun to focus on old household remedies and well-known medicinal plants to source natural alternatives. This is because stubborn bacterial or fungal infections often occur in factory farming and can quickly spread throughout the herd if they are not treated immediately. Oregano has emerged here as one of the first, very potent medicinal plants, as its oils have a strong antimicrobial effect and are sometimes also very effective against multi-resistant germs. Oregano is therefore practically indispensable in livestock farming. But it is also increasingly found in herb mixtures in equine stables.

Bowl with dried oregano and a small branch with fresh leaves next to it
Oregano can be used in many ways in horse feed due to its valuable ingredients. ©AdobeStock/marrakeshh

The plant has an antispasmodic effect on the respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract, which also benefit from its strong anti-inflammatory properties, which are mainly attributed to the carvacrol it contains. Due to the antimicrobial effect of the essential oils contained in oregano, the plant also has a regulating effect on dysbiosis of the gastrointestinal tract and can be used as part of intestinal restoration measures. Oregano can also be given in the case of malfermentation in the stomach, which often manifests itself as “burping” after grazing or feeding concentrates, this can reduce the amount of incorrect germination in the stomach.

In addition to its stabilising effect on the microbiome of the digestive tract, oregano is also the subject of scientific research into parasite management, particularly in livestock. This is because the rapidly increasing resistance to worm cures in particular is a growing problem in veterinary medicine. Oregano has already shown that its essential oils are effective against roundworms. However, further studies are still needed to substantiate these results.

As you can see, oregano is a valuable medicinal plant for diseases of the digestive tract and respiratory tract and should not only be well known as a pizza spice.

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