scientific name: Lippiagraveolens, Origanum vulgare other common names: Oregano castillo, yerba dulce, wild marjoram
growing areas: Lippia graveolens grows in temperate and tropical areas.
physical description: Lippia graveolens is a shrub that grows up to 6 feet in height and has aromatic flowers.
traditional uses: There are about forty different plants known by the name oregano. Lippia graveolens and related plants are known as a food seasoning. But oregano also has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. The Chinese are reported to have used it beginning in ancient times to treat fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Among Mexicans, a species of oregano (Monarda menthaefolia) is listed in one survey as being among the top ten medicinal plants used in their culture to treat the symptoms of cold and flu, as well as coughs, sore throat, and congestion. Based upon fieldwork done in Belize, Balick and Arvigo found that oregano is used as a tea to treat upper respiratory tract infections, induce menstruation, and, when taken a week after childbirth as a leaf decoction, to help a new mother, expel a retained placenta. A boiled leaf solution is also said to be a good wash for wounds and burns.
availability and dosage: Oregano is widely available in supermarkets and food stores. The essential oil derived from the plant is also available, though herbalists caution that it should not be taken internally. For treating colds, teas made with boiling water using up to 3 teaspoons of herb or up to half a cup of fresh leaves as much as three times a day are recommended by some experts.
contraindications: Pregnant women should not use medicinal amounts of oregano, as it has a history of use as a uterine stimulant. Some experts say oregano can interfere with the absorption of iron.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
Experts caution that children under the age of two should not be given medicinal amounts of oregano. It may also produce allergic reactions and gastrointestinal discomfort.
medical research: Oregano was found to inhibit the growth of eleven different microbes in one Australian study.