GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A tender bushy perennial plant (cultivated as an annual in colder climates), up to 60 cms high with a hairy stem, dark green oval leaves and small greyish-white flowers in cluster, or knots. The whole plant is strongly aromatic.
DISTRIBUTION: Native to the Mediterranean region; Egypt and North Africa. Major oil-producing countries include France, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Bulgaria and Hungary.
HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: A traditional culinary herb and folk remedy. It was used by ancient Greeks in their fragrances, cosmetics and medicines; the name oregano derives from a Greek word meaning ‘joy of the mountains’. It is a versatile herb which has a soothing, fortifying and warming effect; it aids digestive and menstrual problems, as well as nervous and respiratory complaints. It is comforting in cold diseases of the head, stomach, sinews and other parts, taken inwardly or outwardly applied … helps diseases of the chest, obstructions of the liver and spleen. It is also very helpful for muscular and rheumatic pain, sprains, strains, stiff joints, bruises, etc.
ACTIONS: Analgesic, anaphrodisiac, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, bactericidal, carminative, cephalic, cordial, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, fungicidal, hypotensive, laxative, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator, vulnerary.
EXTRACTIONS: Essential oil by steam distillation of the dried flowering herb. An oleoresin is also produced in smaller quantities.
CHARACTERISTICS: A pale yellow or amber-coloured mobile liquid with a warm, woody, spicy-camphoraceous odour. It blends well with lavender, rosemary, bergamot, chamomile, cypress, cedarwood, tea tree and eucalyptus.
PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: Terpinenes, terpineol, sabinenes, linalol, carvacrol, linalyl acetate, ocimene, cadinene, geranyl acetate, citral, eugenol, among others.
SAFETY DATA: Non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing. Not to be used during pregnancy.
AROMATHERAPY/HOME USE: Skin care: Chilblains, bruises, ticks. Circulation, muscles and joints: Arthritis, lumbago, muscular aches and stiffness, rheumatism, sprains, strains. Respiratory system: Asthma, bronchitis, coughs. Digestive system: Colic, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence. Genito-urinary system: Amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, leucorrhoea, PMT. Immune system: Colds. Nervous system: Headache, hypertension, insomnia, migraine, nervous tension and stress-related conditions.
OTHER USES: The oil and oleoresin are used as fragrance components in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and perfumes. Employed in most major food categories, especially meats, seasonings and sauces, as well as soft drinks and alcoholic beverages such as vermouths and bitters.