Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
It is usually confused with Thyme and Marjoram. It is native to the Europe, Middle East and Mediterranean countries. In Greece it is cultivated widely and considered to be one of the best.
The wild oregano is found on rocky mountains and hills. The flowering tops are used for smelling oils. The oregano essential oil is very strong and should not be applied directly on the skin unless it is diluted in a base oil (care should be taken)
Medicinal properties: The herb is used in treating respiratory (cough, bronchitis, duspnea), gastrointestinal (colic, diarrhea) and urinary tract disorders, menstrual cramps and toothaches. In ancient Greece the medicinal value was known so it was frequently used externally for rheumatisms, swelling and muscle aches and pains. The tea of Oregano was drunk for colic.
Properties: Anti-parasite, antiviral, painkiller and tonic. Oregano is found to be 12 times stronger antioxidant than Orange.
Oregano contains: Antioxidants, iron, vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids and tryptophan, Vitamin K
Origins: in ancient Greece it was believed to be an antidote for narcotic poisoning. It was also used for good luck and health when carried on ones person. If you grow oregano in your garden it was believed to ward off Evil.
It is said to have been given to cows and goats to produce sweet milk.
Modern day use: oregano is used in Geek, Caribbean, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Mexican cuisine. It is one of the most favorite seasoning for pizza. It combines well with tomato, garlic, thyme and parsley. If it is cooked for sometime it loses its smell and flavor as well as its beneficial properties thus it is best when put just before serving
The Moroccan Arabic word for wild Mediterranean oregano is Za'atar, again sometimes this name is also used for wild thyme. In Morocco, apart from local cuisine it is very popular as TEA, either mixed with green or black tea as a mint substitute. The Moroccans like their tea very sweet so the strong taste of the oregano is somewhat obscured.