7 Crazy Good Things You Don't Know
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January 28, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist









If you think of oregano as just something "extra" to spice up
your pizza, you're in for a major surprise.  This aromatic
ancient herb has some crazy-good health benefits.

Oregano is so powerful, in fact, that experts have found it
may belong more in your medicine cabinet than your kitchen
cabinet. Oregano can help prevent cancer and minimize the
negative effects of diabetes. Oregano with its distinctive
scent and taste has been used in medicine and cooking for
thousands of years.

The word "oregano" comes from the Greek words for
mountain (oros) and joy (ganos), which should give you
some idea of how highly  the Greeks value this common
spice.  

A Short History of Oregano as Medicine

Oregano, technically known as "origanum vulgare" belongs
to the mint family .

In ancient Greece, people believed that using oregano during
a wedding ceremony would help bring joy to the couple, and
oregano at a funeral would bring peace to the recently
departed.

The Greeks and Romans were the first to use oregano for
medicinal purposes. Oregano was used to
treat wounds,
respiratory problems, and the effects of snake and spider
bites.

In the 19th Century, doctors in the Eclectic School of
medicine used oregano to promote menstruation. After
World War 2, oregano became popular in the United States
as a food flavor.  Now recently, scientists have started
looking more closely into the medicinal properties of  
oregano and oregano oil.  

What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?






























Active ingredients in oregano include carvacrol, thymol,
limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. Each of these
gives your food flavor but  also provides key health benefits
as they act as antibacterial and antioxidant agents.

Oregano or its essential oil has been used to treat menstrual
cramps, respiratory disorders, urinary tract infections, skin
conditions like acne and dandruff, and acts as a defense
against the problems associated with free radicals. Oregano
is a good source of vitamin K, which is an important vitamin
for bone growth and density. Oregano also contains fiber,
vitamin E, iron, calcium, manganese, and omega 3 fatty acids.

We looked at the scientific evidence for oregano as a natural
medicine, to help you see how oregano is y good for much
more than flavoring your pizza.

1.
Oregano Beats Cancer

Oregano has shown a remarkable ability to slow down or
stop the growth of cancer cells. The active ingredient in
oregano, carvacrol, actually causes cancer cells to commit
suicide, according to experts.

This cell death, called "apoptosis", prevents or slows down
the progression of cancer.

Carvacrol appears to be effective against many different
types of cancer.

In fact,  the carvarcrol compound in oregano activates early
cancer cell death, helping to arrest the progression of
breast
cancer, hepatoma, leukemia, non-small cell lung cancer,
cervical cancer and prostate cancer, according to a 2012
study from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York led
by Bhushankumar Patel and Supriya A. Bavadekar.

Moreover, the list of cancers which are arrested by
oregano's carvacrol keeps on growing. You can now add
colon cancer to the lost.  A 2015 study from the Fifth Clinical
College of Harbin Medical University, Daqing, China further
confirmed the pioneering work from the Long Island study
by showing that oregano's carvatrol is also a therapeutic
agent against colon cancer cells.

2.
Oregano is an Effective Antibacterial Agent

Oregano oil has such effective antibacterial and antimicrobial
properties, scientists say, that is can actually kill food-borne
pathogens and other fungi and parasites.

A 2015 study from Université de Poitiers, France showed the
excellent efficiency of oregano oil at killing bacterial and
fungal species, which is due, scientists say, to the high
concentration of carvacrol.

Thymol, another phenol in oregano is, in fact, one of the
active ingredients in Listerine mouthwash.

3.
Oregano is an Anti-Inflammatory

A 2014 study from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in
Argentina found that essential oil of oregano has significant
“antibacterial, antioxidant and chemopreventive properties
and could be play an important role as bioprotector agent.”

The active ingredient in oregano oil, beta-caryophyllin, has
also been shown to lower inflammation to help protect
against the development of
osteoporosis and
arteriosclerosis, according to a 2008 report from Bonn
University and the ETH Zurich.

4.
Eating Oregano Can Help You Manage Diabetes

Oregano´s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties help to
reduce the effects of diabetes on the body, resulting in
better management of
blood sugar levels.

In a 2015 study from the University of Belgrade in Serbia,
active ingredients in oregano oil protected mice from
diabetes development. A 2014 study from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that oregano oil helps to
inhibit the enzymes that cause insulin management problems.

5.
Oregano is an Antioxidant  

Many different sources show that oregano is high in
antioxidants, making it an effective herb for general health
and maintaining defenses against free radicals.

A 2015 study from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy
in Romania and a 2000 study from the Leeds Metropolitan
University in the UK chart the beneficial levels of antioxidants
in this super-herb.

6.
Oregano can Protect Against the Effects of a High Fat Diet

Mice fed a high fat diet became obese in a 2015 study from
Annamalai University in India, but mice fed fat alongside
carvacrol, the active ingredient in oregano, gained
significantly less weight.

These mice even showed significantly lower levels of
cholesterol in the blood, and their triglycerides levels were
lower.

This study from India echoes the same finding in an earlier
Korean study, conducted in 2012 by scientists from Yonsei
University.  In the Korea study, mice fed a diet enhanced by
0.1% carvacrol not only lost weight despite being on a high
fat diet, they also had lower levels of plasma lipids
(triglycerides).  


Could oregano oil help you lose weight? That's not clear
yet.  We need human studies to confirm carvacrol's
remarkable ability to
block weight gain.



7.
Oregano Oil Kills Intestinal Parasites

Taking oregano oil extract for six weeks can kill the intestinal
parasites Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni, and
Endolimax nana according to a 2000 study from the Health
Explorations Trust, Scottsdale, AZ.

After six weeks of 600mg of oregano oil, the parasites had
disappeared completely in 14 patients according to the
research.


[The author thanks her colleague Susan Callahan for
contributions on cancer research to this article.]






































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Oregano contains compounds which
inhibit the growth of cancer cells and
help you control blood sugar.