Ancient Uses of Wild Oregano: Proof of Modern Powers
Few people realize it, but spices are actually highly medicinal. In ancient times wild oregano, for instance, wasn’t used as it is today, that is as a mere spice. Rather, it was used as a potent medicine. That is why the ancient Greeks deemed it the “delight of the mountains” (oro- ganos). For some 50,000 years of human history wild oregano has been used for human health. The oldest recorded use of an aromatic herb or, rather, spice for human health relates to the tomb of a princess unearthed in Iraq. Around the neck of this mummified princess was a sachet of wild oregano.
In fact, throughout the Fertile Crescent and the Middle East the medicinal properties of wild oregano were renowned. It was Budge’s Syriac Book of Medicine which demonstrated this. Published in 1913 and based upon a text from the early centuries A.D. it mentions oregano only as a medicine. It mentions it as essential in the treatment of asthma, headaches, eye pain, loss of voice (hoarseness and/or laryngitis), jaundice, liver abscess, cirrhosis of the liver, and obstructed liver disease. Prescriptions for the use of wild oregano, often combined with other herbs are given, all based upon ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek lore. Yet, to gain an even more complete picture of the utility of this blessed, mountain-grown plant a more modern view is necessary, which takes us to the Medieval age. Here, in particular in England the use of wild oregano is well documented. Consider William Langam’s Garden of Health, published in 1633. Langam describes dozens of uses for wild oregano, particularly its distilled oil. Diseases and disorders which responded favorably to this natural medicine include bladder disorders, urinary bleeding/discharge, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, earache, headache, hives, itchy skin, persistent cough, canker sores, swelling in the mouth, toothache, stomach distress, colon obstruction, constipation, spastic colon, breast inflammation, and intestinal worms. Yet, incredibly, all such uses are unknown today. Again, in the 1600s, about 1693, William Salmon produced a highly
informative herbal called The Complete English Physician, where a description is made of the medicinal properties of hundreds of natural substances. Regarding oregano, said Salmon, it “cleanses” tissues, but also “strengthens” them. It purges, he notes, various diseases/disorders of the lungs, liver, spleen, and uterus. This coincides with the most ancient Commentator, the author of the Bible, who says that wild oregano is a powerful purging agent—a true cleanser. Note here that the Greek word “essop” is derived from the Hebrew “ezov,” which means rather than hyssop wild oregano. It is just interesting that the High Creator thinks so much of his humans that He would give them this protective advice.
Salmon agrees with the biblical dictum. Oregano, particularly the oil and the steam essence or juice, has “excellent” cleansing powers for the lungs, chest, and female organs. For cough, asthma, and shortness of breath it is supreme. In the digestive system there are significant benefits, in particular he describes it effective against jaundice (hepatitis) and diarrhea. Twice in his essay he describes this spice as effective for “diseases of the womb”, in other words, the ovaries, cervix, uterus, and vaginal tract. Pain, he says, succumbs to its powers, as do disorders of the nerves, where it is recommended as a penetrating rub. The cold ache of gout also responds to these penetrating powers. He even describes positive results against paralysis, seizures, and strokes. Finally, Salmon recommends oregano oil versus fatigue and muscular exhaustion.
In the 18th century interest in the use of oregano oil began to decline. For instance, John Quincy, M.D.’s book, A Complete English Dispensatory, also recommends this herb/spice, but only for “skin eruptions” and toothaches. More complete guidelines are found in the 19th century manual, T. Green’s Universal Herbal, where oil of wild oregano (or wild marjoram) is deemed effective in speeding the healing of wounds, a fact readily confirmed today by anyone who applies this oil topically, as well as for stomachache, indigestion, intestinal disorders, jaundice, intestinal gas, vertigo, headache, and nervous disorders. It is even recommended for strengthening and toning tissues such as the uterus and stomach.
It was only in the 20th century when interest in this potent substance was revived. In 1918 Cavel at the Pasteur Institute studied the germicidal powers of oil of oregano. Using sewage water as his medium, to which he added beef broth to accelerate the microbial growth, he added oregano oil in a one to one-thousand dilution. It sterilized the sewage water. Still, it never became popular until the 1990s, when research in America reestablished its vast utility. For instance, a study in mice at Georgetown University (Ingram, Preuss, and others) showed that wild Mediterranean oregano oil emulsified in extra virgin olive oil destroyed a killer strain of Candida albicans as well as potent antifungal drugs. Furthermore, the same authors showed that, again in infected test animals the oregano oil complex destroyed drug-resistant staph as well as standard medication. Rather, in all such trials the authors concluded that the wild oil of oregano/extra virgin olive oil complex was superior to the drugs, because while the oregano oil proved non-toxic, even beneficial, to the animals the drugs caused toxicity. In addition, in vitro tests at Microbiotest showed that the oil kills cold and flu viruses intracellularly. Complete obliteration of intracellular viruses was achieved by the wild oil in doses as small as a tenth of a percent, which is remarkable. No known drug has this effect. So, the ancient adage holds true. Wild oil of oregano, as well as the whole mountain-grown crushed herb, is a potent purging agent for the human body. Ideal forms of wild oregano include the high-grade Mediterranean-source oil of oregano in a base of extra virgin olive oil, the whole crushed herb, preferably mixed, as did the ancients, with Rhus coriaria (mountain sumac), and the essence or juice of oregano.
Budge, E. A. W. 1913. Syrian ‘Book of Medicines.’ Vol. II, London: Oxford University Press.
Green, T. 1824. The Universal Herbal. London: Caxton Press.
Ijaz, K., Ingram, C., et al. Antiviral Research (abstract). Ingram, C. 2008. The Cure is in the Cupboard. Buffalo
Grove, IL: Knowledge House Publishers.
Langham, W. 1633. Garden of Health. London: Thomas Harper.
Manohar, V., Ingram, C., Gray, J., et al. 2001. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 228:111-117.
Nostro, A., et al. 2004. Susceptibility of methicillin- resistant staphylococci to oregano essential oil, carvacrol, and thymol. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 230:191-195.
Manohar, V., Ingram, C., et al. 2001. Antibacterial effects of the edible oil of oregano against Staphylococcus aureus.
Salmon, W. 1693. The Compleat English Physician. London: Mathew Gilliflower.
Quincy, J. 1782. A Complete English Dispensatory.
London: T. Longman.
Dr. Cass Ingram is a nutritional physician who received a B.S. in biology and chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa (1979) and a D.O. from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, IA (1984). Dr. Ingram has since written over 20 books on natural healing. He has given answers and hope to millions through lectures on thousands of radio/TV shows. His research and writing have led to countless cures and discoveries. Dr. Cass Ingram presents 100’s of health tips and insights in his many books on health, nutrition, and disease prevention. Dr. Ingram is one of North America’s leading experts on the health benefits and disease fighting properties of wild medicinal spice extracts. A popular media personality, he has appeared on over 5,000 radio and TV shows. He now travels the world promoting perfect health – the natural way