Oregano: The Pizza Spice with Amazing Health Benefits
oregano health benefits

Oregano: The Pizza Spice with Amazing Health Benefits

by Kelley Herring on June 5, 2013

The nostalgic smell you associate with your family’s spaghetti dinners may make you feel like a kid again. And research shows that indulging in this culinary tradition could truly turn back the hands of time.

That’s because oregano – the predominant herb in Italian food – is a chart-topper when it comes to fighting free radicals. Dried oregano, often called the “pizza herb,” weighs in with an ORAC score of 200,129.

That’s 110 times more antioxidant power than oranges… 42 times more than apples… and 30 times more than blueberries on a gram-per-gram basis.

Studies also show that oregano has stronger antioxidant capacity than two common synthetic antioxidant preservatives commonly added to processed food — BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole).

But oregano doesn’t just protect the healthy cells in your body. It can help eliminate unwanted cells too. In fact, oregano is one of the most potent antimicrobial herbs ever tested!

Fights Food-Borne Bacteria, Immune-Wrecking Fungus, And More!

A recent study conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center found that oregano is effective against a wide range of microbial nasties, including Staph, E. coli, H. pylori, Mycobacterium and others. The study authors were so impressed by oregano’s ability and long-standing safety record that they suggested it could be used to prevent and treat severe bacterial infections, including antibiotic-resistant infections.

Another study found that oregano oil is a better treatment for the water-borne illness Giardia than the powerful prescription drugs commonly prescribed to treat the illness.

But oregano doesn’t just fend off pathogens – it can help you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut as well.

It’s not very difficult to disrupt your gut’s delicate balance. Sugar, processed foods, unhealthy fats, hormones in conventionally-raised meats, antibiotics, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and many other common exposures can compromise the microbial balance in your digestive system.

When this happens, the bad bugs – including a fungus called Candida albicans – can multiply out of control, causing symptoms ranging from brain fog, fatigue and depression, to sinus infections and nail fungus.

But regular consumption of oregano is one natural way to keep your gut happy and Candida in check. (Learn more about a candida diet here)

So what are the antimicrobial muscles of the “pizza herb” attributed to? The phytonutrients carvacrol and thymol, as well as limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene.

And these nutrients also help make oregano a potent way to…

Reduce Inflammation – A Root Cause of Disease


Sprinkle on delicious flavor and powerful anti-inflammatory action!

Inflammation plays many important roles in the body. Without it, we couldn’t defend against harmful invaders or repair the damage caused by injuries.

But chronic inflammation is different. Unlike the redness and pain that sends a signal that our body is in repair mode, chronic inflammation is a silent internal process that slips “under the radar,” causing damage to tissues and cells that can lead to disease and physical aging.

The good news is that chronic inflammation can be quelled with a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. And oregano is one of the best.

In fact, oregano has 31 known anti-inflammatory compounds and four potent COX-2 inhibitors, including rosmarinic acid. In clinical studies and practice, these compounds show promise in protecting against cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Oregano: It’s Not Just for Pizza!

While it is most notable for its role in Italian cuisine, oregano can be added to a wide variety of foods to create dishes with Mediterranean appeal.

Whip up a simple oregano-infused dressing for a Greek Salad with Free Range Chicken… make an oregano-olive oil marinade for eggplant and then grill to golden… try your hand at a Paleo Pizza (made from coconut flour) smothered with antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and topped with plenty of the “pizza herb”…. or simmer a delicious pot of Grass-Fed Beef Bolognese (add 1 Tbsp. dried oregano per pound of meat) and serve over spaghetti squash.

In addition to these simple and delicious dishes, here are a few ways to maximize oregano’s medicinal powers:

  • Use it Dry: The dry form of oregano has an ORAC of 200,129 vs. 13, 970 for fresh
  • Take a Tincture: Along with making liberal use of this herb in the kitchen, consider buying a high quality oregano tincture like Oreganol for medicinal use. It’s great for clearing congested sinuses, easing cold symptoms and fighting Candida. For sinus and cold relief, place a few drops of Oreganol in the bottom of a bowl; add several cups of boiling water and lean over the bowl with a large towel draped over the back of your head. Inhaling the steam helps break up mucus. However, do not put the concentrated oil directly on mucous membranes. Follow the directions for taking Oreganol orally.
  • Sip a Tea: As with other herbs, steep fresh or dried oregano for 5 minutes in boiling filtered water.
  • Store Smart: Store dried oregano in a cool, dark place and use or replace every six months. Keep fresh oregano in an airtight bag in the refrigerator.

When it comes to your health, research shows that the common ingredients in our own kitchens provide the safest, most effective preventives and remedies.

Preuss HG Minimum inhibitory concentrations of oregano essential oils for gram-positive and gram negative bacteria. Mol Cell Biochem, 2005 Apr;272(1-2):29-34. Elgayyar M Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. J of Food Protection: 2001 Vol.64 pp. 1019-24. Santoyo S Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of Origanum vulgare L. compared for antimicrobial activity. J Food Prot. 2006 Feb;69(2):369-75. Lagouri V Nutrient antioxidants in oregano. Int J Food Sci Nutr 1996 Nov;47(6):493-7. Martinez-Tome M Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean spices compared with common food additives. J Food Prot 2001 Sep;64(9): 1412-9. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2000 Thomson Medical Economics at Montvale, NJ pp. 559-560. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2002; 49:5165-5170 Ponce-Macotela M, Rufino-González Y, González-Maciel A, Reynoso-Robles R, Martínez-Gordillo MN. Oregano (Lippia spp.) kills Giardia intestinalis trophozoites in vitro: antigiardiasic activity and ultrastructural damage. Parasitol Res. 2006 May;98(6):557-60. Epub 2006 Jan 20. Johnson JJ. Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. Cancer Lett. 2011 Jun 1;305(1):1-7. Epub 2011 Mar 5. Newmark, Thomas M. "Beyond Aspirin", (2000), pp63-64, 131-132: Zheng W, Wang SY. Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Nov;49(11):5165-70.

About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

About Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

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