Oregano known scientifically as Origanum vulgare is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.
Oregano is a perennial herb it is sometimes called Wild Marjoram, and its close relative O. majorana is then known as "Sweet Marjoram".
Oregano is used in a wide range of culinary traditions, most commonly known in Mediterranean cuisine; it is also used Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking.
Besides the rich culinary tradition Oregano also has been used medicinally for centuries, Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments. A Cretan oregano (O. dictamnus) is still used today in Greece as a palliative for sore throat. Recent studies in Mexico have shown that ingesting an Oregano Tea is as effective a treatment against the amoeba giardia (believed to be the most common cause for food poisoning) as commonly prescribed medications.
Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients - including thymol and rosmarinic acid - that have also been shown to function as potent antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body. In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food - BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole). Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.