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The Two Sides of Oregano

By Brenda Hyde and Lucinda Jenkins via www.fabulousfoods.com

Like most herbs, there are two sides to oregano: the culinary and the medicinal. For centuries people have used plants and herbs of all sorts for their apparent health giving qualities. How convenient that something so healthy can also add so much flavor to our daily diets.

To explore the two sides of oregano, we’ve enlisted the help of Brenda Hyde, editor of SeedsOfKnowledge.com, a website dedicated to creating and sharing family memories, and Lucinda Jenkins, editor of GlenbrookFarm.com, a comprehensive herbal website.

We’ve filled this article out with some recipes from right here at FabulousFoods.com, so you can experiment with the distinctive flavor of oregano yourself.  Find them in the related recipes section below.

The Culinary Side of Oregano
By Brenda Hyde

Oregano is an herb everyone is familiar with in some form or another. It’s an easy to grow perennial with some controversy surrounding it.

I was told long ago that true oregano has white flowers, but many times we end up with a plant that has pinkish flowers. This is actually wild marjoram. I have two large oregano plants that are probably not true oregano but sure do work well in all recipes, vinegars and the flowers are wonderful dried and used on wreaths. To be sure of what you are getting talk to someone at your garden center that understands the difference.

Oregano can be used fresh with sautéed zucchini and onions, or is a welcome addition along with cilantro to black beans.

For a simple elegant appetizer, carefully grill thick slices of provolone cheese that have been sprinkled with oregano. When the cheese is warmed and starts to melt spread on crusty fresh bread with a butter knife.

Add oregano to your fresh salsa recipes, or any Mexican dishes as well as Italian recipes.

The leaves can be dried on the stem and crumbled into jars, or frozen in individual bags, then used as fresh.

One oregano plant that is put in full sun, fairly dry soil and harvested frequently will supply all that you need. It does grow quickly and spread, but that will allow you to pot up some oregano for your windowsill and for your friends!

The Medicinal Side of Oregano
By Lucinda Jenkins

Oregano: origanum vulgare

Heard the spicy news about oregano? There is a lot of research going on right now with this common kitchen cupboard herb. It seems to be able to land a knock punch to free radicals those awful compounds in our body that cause us to age and get sick.

In a recent study sited by James Duke in his book the Green Pharmacy, Oregano a member of the mint family out ranked over 100 mint family herbs in delivering rosmarinic acid.

Action and uses:
Rosmarinic acid is a compound in oregano that is

  • antibacterial: will kill bacteria
  • anti-imflammatory: will ease swelling
  • antioxidant: means anti-aging
  • anti-viral: it will kill a virus

So not only is oregano tea good for helping to heal from a cold ,it is helpful with arthritis.

I read a comment on the internet that Oregano essential oil is strong enough to treat sewage, meaning it could kills all the nasty bacteria in sewage. I can’t back that up but thought it was an “interesting” claim.

Oregano is currently being studied by the Delaware State Univerisity with federally funded dollars, which means there is something to the powerful claims made by Scientist W H Martindale in 1910, documented that the essential oil of oregano is the most powerful plant-derived antiseptic known. He showed it was 26 times more active as an antiseptic than phenol (a powerful disinfectant).

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