“Joy of the Mountain”, or oregano, is the quintessential herb for healthy living. Did you know that oregano is an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant, all in one? Who knew such a little plant could be so powerful?
According to the NY Times, a chicken farmer decided oregano was his method of farming on his chicken farm in Pennsylvania. A goat and sheep farmer learned that oregano was beneficial when he dealing with parasites in his animals. Which makes sense since earlier the Joint Statement on Antibiotic Resistance from 25 National Health Organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included the following:
To reinforce the judicious use of antibiotics in agriculture by: limiting the use of medically important human antibiotics in food animals; supporting the use of such antibiotics in animals only for those uses that are considered necessary for assuring animal health; and having veterinary oversight for such antibiotics used in animals.
What Gives Oregano It’s Distinctive Smell?
Oregano, sometimes referred to as “sweet or wild marjoram”, originates from the Mediterranean region and it’s aroma brings to mind the smell of pizza. Botanically known as, Origanum vulgare, the official name for oregano, is high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, and potassium. It contains the chemical compounds carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene, which contribute to it’s flavor.¹ However, the climate and soils where it is grown can play a role in the properties of oregano.
The essential oil of oregano is composed primarily of monoterpenoids and monoterpenes, with the relative concentration of each compound varying widely across geographic origin and other factors. Over 60 different compounds have been identified, with the primary ones being carvacrol and thymol ranging to over 80%, while lesser abundant compounds include p-cymene, γ-terpinene, caryophyllene, spathulenol, germacrene-D, β-fenchyl alcohol and δ-terpineol.¹
The following information is quoted from Dr. Mercola regarding oregano² (the footnote references included in the quote are his, not mine):
Carvacol and thymol, two phytochemicals in oregano, are powerful antimicrobials. Research has shown essential oils from oregano may kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria4 and the superbug MRSA (making it a useful addition to hand soaps and disinfectants).5 According to one of the researchers involved in the MRSA study:6
“We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water.”
Studies have also found essential oils of oregano to be useful against certain Candida species.7
Just What the Doctor Ordered
My recent discovery in health is the use of oregano for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). My latest visit to Dr. Kahn, my metabolic cardiologist, included blood tests which revealed inflammation in my body, not attributed directly to my heart condition. My chief complaint on this visit was bloating, and abdominal discomfort that nearly brought me to tears. He suggested a supplement that contained Berberine, that would be beneficial to my heart. If I had any Candida, it would help with that too. When reviewing my test results, Dr. Kahn queried me in attempts to discover potential culprits that might be causing the digestive complaints and the inflammation. The answer to most of his questions were “no”, until he mentioned yeast infections. I realized the toenail fungus I had lived with for nearly 30 years was a clue. Toenail fungus is a sign of Candida present in the body.
Dr. Kahn is a cardiologist, so he suggested I find a functional medicine doctor to follow up in treating the Candida. I had my six month checkup with my primary doctor (not a functional medicine practitioner) scheduled less than a week later. So in the meantime, I did my research. I was miserable and desperate to put an end to the horrible bloating I was experiencing. This is when I learned of the connection of MTHFR and SIBO. The protocol for treating SIBO sounded right for me, since it did not involve traditional antibiotics and instead focused on restoring the gut’s microbiome.
In the Garden
A corner of my garden is reserved for a nice patch of oregano. It is a perennial in Zone 5 (if mulched well with leaves in winter) and is known to spread quite prolifically. This is why I chose to situate it in the corner of the garden and not in the middle. I’ve planted mine alongside my green pepper plants, since they are great companion plants. The oregano deters the aphids from bothering the peppers and also provides extra humidity, especially if the oregano grows amongst the pepper plants.³ I don’t anticipate opening up a pizzeria, but I do want to have a decent quantity of the herb for distillation purposes.
I’m looking forward to growing enough of it so I can distill some essential oil from it. I’m looking forward to a new adventure in creating my own essential oils using steam distillation. Stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, I’m headed to a lavender farm in Midland, Michigan, The Lavender Fleece, to share my story and My Road Trip to Health with others. Bet you can’t guess what my next post will feature…