This standard kitchen garden herb, sometimes referred to as "Wild Marjoram," is most commonly known for its use as a spice in Italian and Latin-American cooking. Oregano, a close cousin to 'Sweet Marjoram
', is also used extensively in Spanish, Portuguese, Philippine, Egyptian, Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese, Turkish and Greek cuisine. It adds a warm, spicy flavor to recipes. It can grow fairly tall (up to thirty inches), has pink flowers and spreads by underground runners. The herb can be used fresh but is generally used after drying the leaves.
Native to the warmer areas of the Mediterranean and western to southwestern Eurasian regions, Oregano is a tender perennial herb and generally thrives down to about USDA zone 5. In colder climates, it can be grown in pots or outside as an annual. Each packet contains 0.1 gram, which is approximately 850 seeds.
Oregano's medicinal properties are described as being antibacterial
, and mildly tonic
As with its close cousin, 'Sweet Marjoram
', an infusion
is made using two to three teaspoons of fresh Oregano, per cup of boiling water, and used for stomach ailments, providing relief from abdominal cramps in women, headaches, and respiratory issues. Bruised leaves, added to a sleep pillow, were said to help resolve insomnia.
Modern science has identified several important compounds contained in Oregano. One, called Carvacrol, provides Oregano its disinfectant
properties. According to Kelly Bright, who led a research project at the University of Arizona, "Carvacrol could potentially be used as a food sanitizer and possibly as a surface sanitizer, particularly in conjunction with other antimicrobials. We have some work to do to assess its potential but carvacrol has a unique way of attacking the virus, which makes it an interesting prospect.