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It is also loaded with dietary fiber and great source of calcium and iron.

· Spice

Would you believe that a simple dry herb, which is sitting right now in your kitchen pantry, is super-medicinal and exploding with antioxidants?

So much so that on per gram basis, it has 4 times the antioxidants of blueberries, 42 times the antioxidants of apples and 12 times the antioxidants of oranges. It is also loaded with dietary fiber and great source of calcium and iron.

This spice is also known as the “Joy of The Mountain” in Ancient Greek. Do you know that the Ancient Greeks also believed that if you rub yourself with oregano, before going to bed you will meet your future spouse in the dreams.

Knowing Oregano

Oregano is native to the Mediterranean countries and western Asia. It is commonly used in Italy, in turkey and in parts of Mexico and the United States.
Oregano is a small evergreen plant. It has oval leaves arranged oppositely and are covered with small plant hairs.

Oregano has a strong aroma, fragrant flavor of warmness and slight bitterness.
Spice-lovers believe that the best oregano comes from Turkey.
Oregano is sold in fresh, dried, or ground form. The flavor of the dried oregano is stronger than the fresh one. Dried oregano is popular and preferred over ground oregano, because of its powerful flavor.

Remember this simple tip while using dried oregano:
Always crush it a little in between your hands just before adding to the dish. This helps release the essential oils and flavor of the spice.

Mexican oregano is not from the same family as Mediterranean oregano but has a similar, slightly stronger taste. Mediterranean or European oregano we are exploring is also known as “wild marjoram”, and is often mistaken as the marjoram, which is also called sweet marjoram. Marjoram and oregano both are from the same plant family, and can be used interchangeably in the recipe, with slight alteration in taste.

Health Benefits

1. Oregano is excellent for digestion.
There might be many reasons for indigestion and the common causes are bacteria, fungi, or parasites. They are the reason for intestinal troubles, from ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms can be chronic diarrhea, gas, constipation, bloody stools or non-digestive symptoms like fever and fatigue.

Oregano oil contains 2 major components - carvacrol and thymol, which have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties.

Researchers have proved that these compounds in oregano can kill many of the bacteria causing food poisoning including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Shigella. Researchers also found that a combination of oregano and cranberry extracts could kill H. pylori bacteria, which is the cause of stomach ulcers.

2. Oregano can prevent Metabolic syndrome.
I came across this term in my nutrition class for the first time and was very intrigued to learn about it.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of metabolic illnesses. These conditions include increased weight precisely excess body fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. When a person has all conditions together, the chances for him/her of getting cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to greasy buildups in heart walls is much greater than any one issue alone. There are certain medications prescribed to combat this situation.

Researchers proved that oregano extracts work in the same way as drugs used for metabolic syndrome. In one of the studies they showed the oregano could help with weight reduction, prevent heart condition and better the lipid profile i.e high triglycerides.

3. Oregano can help treat menstrual cramps.
Oregano is a very effective pain killer. Its anti-inflammatory properties help relieve from any muscular body pain. Not only muscular pain but oregano can help women relieve from menstrual cramps. With its effective pain-relieving property oregano can successfully decrease the pain intensity and discomfort during menstruation.

Additionally, it helps regulate menstrual cycle and can relieve from the adverse effects of menopause.

To treat menstrual cramps just chew fresh oregano leaves twice or thrice a day. Another way is to sip oregano tea and get rid of menstrual discomfort.

In the kitchen

• Use it in salad dressing, marinades, soups, sauces and as a rub.
• Use it as a rub for grilling- Mix 1 tsp of oregano with ½ tsp of red pepper flakes, ½ tsp salt, and some freshly ground pepper, and rub the mixture to a meat of your choice.
• It goes very well with Italian dishes like pasta, pizza especially tomato based.
• It’s a nice addition to omelets, bread, roast veggies, lentils and beans.

Home remedies

1. For a quick relief from indigestion, add 2-3 drops of oregano oil to a glass of warm water and drink.
2. To get rid of stomachache massage your belly with oregano oil for few minutes.
3. To treat congestion and sinusitis add few drops of oregano oil to a glass of warm water and keep sipping whole day till symptoms get better.
4. To treat menstrual cramps just chew fresh oregano leaves twice or thrice a day.
5. For overall health, consume the oregano oil orally. Add few drops of oregano oil into a cup of water, gargle and then swallow.
6. Make a paste from the oregano leaves. Apply topically to get pain relief from itching, sores, swelling or muscle aches.
7. Relax in a steam bath with oregano oil and instantly soothe the tired muscles.
8. For improving skin health, add 1 drop of oregano oil to 1 tsp of olive oil and apply to the affected area.
8. Breathe oregano oil steam by adding few drops of oregano oil to hot water to get relief from congestion.
9. Oregano tea has lot of health benefits including all the above:
-Boil water and add 1 tsp of dried oregano leaves or 2 twigs of fresh oregano to 2 cups of water .
-Let it boil for few more mins and then let it steep for 10 more minutes.
-Use a strainer and filter the oregano leaves.
-Add honey or agave to sweeten if needed.
-Enjoy while hot.