For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of oregano is a spice that adds delicious flavor and mouth-watering aroma to pizza, pasta, and many other Italian dishes. While this is true, there is so much more to this fragrant herb than its use as a culinary spice. People have been using this member of the mint family for thousands of years as a spice, medicine, and even in religious rites. Let’s take a look at how this herb has been part of our collective experience throughout the ages and what versatile uses it still has for us today.
Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, documented oregano use goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Its name comes from the Greek words “oros,” for mountain, and “ganos,” for joy – or “joy of the mountain.” The Greeks used, and still use, the herb as an indispensable spice in many dishes including stews, soups, salads, and marinades.
Legend has it that Aristotle was responsible for using the herb for snake bites since he noticed that when tortoises ate snakes, they would immediately eat the leaves of an oregano plant.
Hippocrates, a giant historical figure known as the “Father of Western Medicine” and the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine, used oregano on a regular basis to protect against gastrointestinal and respiratory ailments as well as for its powerful antiseptic properties.
Interestingly, ancient Greeks and Romans used oregano ceremonially during both weddings and funerals. The couple to be married would be crowned with laurels or garlands of oregano to ensure long years of love and happiness, while graves were planted with the herb to help the deceased find peace and tranquility in the next life. During the middle ages, oregano was planted around homes to protect them from evil, and the leaves were carried as good luck charms or used in magic spells in the hopes of achieving peace and happiness.
The Romans’ deep love of the plant helped it spread along with their empire throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Oregano made it all the way to China via the spice road during Medieval times. Once there, it was embraced for its numerous healing qualities, given the name Niu Zhi, and incorporated into Traditional Chinese Medicine for a host of ailments.
Surprisingly, oregano was rarely mentioned in cookbooks and was not a well-known spice in the United States until after World War II. It was during the Italian Campaign that American soldiers discovered and developed a taste for the delicious herb. They loved it so much, especially on pizza, that they brought it back home with them and pizzerias began sprouting up all over the country. Nowadays the culinary herb is considered an indispensable part of every spice rack, and remains as valued today as it was to the ancient Greeks.
A wealth of scientific research has been conducted on the many health benefits of oregano. Numerous studies have shown oregano's ability to discourage the growth of a broad spectrum of unfriendly organisms. Its bug-thwarting properties appear to be linked to oregano's main volatile compound called carvacrol.
Oregano has been shown to support healthy microbial balance in the intestines and throughout the whole body. It enhances the body’s natural defenses for a healthy immune response, supports a healthy gut microbiome and digestive flora, and provides a natural source of antioxidants.
Many oregano supplements are found in oil gelcaps, often containing low-quality and possibly rancid oils. These gelcaps are often gelatin-based so the products are not vegan. SuperPure® Oregano is a unique, highly-concentrated extract in powder form without any maltodextrin, oil fillers, or other unwanted additives.
It’s expertly formulated with a synergy of organic oregano CO2 extract and freeze-dried organic whole leaf powder for maximized levels of carvacrol, the highly beneficial compound found in oregano. This unique combination yields a highly potent, full-spectrum formula. Most importantly, and unlike the majority of oregano products out there, all the ingredients in our SuperPure® Oregano capsules are certified organic for maximum purity, quality and safety.
So, relish oregano’s scrumptious flavor and heavenly aroma in your food, cultivate it in your garden or in a pot on your balcony, and take it to support microbial balance and immune health. Above all, appreciate this lovely member of our collective ecosystem for all it has given us throughout history and all it continues to do for us today.