Topics: Oregano, Lamiaceae, Antioxidant Pages: 5 (1417 words) Published: March 8, 2013
Oregano (Scientific name: Origanum vulgare) is also known as Wild Marjoram, Mountain Mint, Origanum, Wintersweet and Winter Marjoram. This erectly spreading plant has strong aromatic characteristics, with leaves and stems that are fleshy. The leaves of oregano are heart-shaped, with toothed edges, and which, grow for up to 9 meters in length. In other countries, the plant is primarily used as a culinary ingredient. However, in countries like the Philippines, Oregano is a known herbal medicine for its strong anti-oxidant properties. Plant family:  Lamiaceae (mint family).

Sensoric quality:  Aromatic, warm and slightly bitter. Oregano largely varies in intensity: Good quality is so strong that it almost numbs the tongue, but the cultivars adapted to colder climate have often unsatisfactory flavor. Main constituents:  The essential oil (max. 4%) may contain variable amounts of the two phenols carvacrol and thymol (see also thyme and savory); furthermore, a variety of monoterpene hydrocarbons (limonene, terpinene, ocimene, caryophyllene, beta-bisabolene and p-cymene) and monoterpene alcohols (linalool, 4-terpineol) are reported. In Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) an essential oil of very similar constitution is found. A typical analysis is as follows: 50% thymol, 12% carvacrol, 9% p-cymene and a number of further monoterpenoids (1,8 cineol, gamma-terpinene, terpinene-4-ol and terpinene-4-yl acetate) in amounts between 1 and 5%. Flowering Oregano. This Italian cultivar has an exceptionally intensive flavor. Origin:  Several species of genus Origanum are native to the Mediterranean, all of which are traded as a spice. The influence of climate, season and soil on the composition of the essential oil is greater than the difference between the various species. The most important species are O. vulgare (pan-European), O. onites (Greece, Asia Minor) and O. heracleoticum (Italy, Balkan peninsular, West Asia). A closely related plant is marjoram from Asia Minor, which, however, differs significantly in taste, because phenolic compounds are missing in its essential oil. Some breeds show an flavor intermediate between oregano and marjoram (gold marjoram = gold oregano). Mexican Oregano stems from the plant Lippia graveolens (Verbenaceae) and is closely related to lemon verbena. Although only loosely related to oregano, Mexican oregano displays a flavor very similar to that of oregano, albeit stronger. It is increasingly traded, especially in the US. Its strong aroma makes it an acceptable substitute for epazote leaves if the latter are not available; this wouldn't work the other way round, though. Etymology: The Greek name or?ganon might well contain ?ros "mountain", and the verb gano?sthai "delight in", because oregano prefers higher altitude in Mediterranean climate; yet a pre-Greek or Semitic origin of or?ganum has also been discussed. A similar motivation may lay behind Norwegian bergmynte "mountain mint" (oregano and mint belong to the same plant family). [oh-REHG-uh-noh] Greek for "joy of the mountain," oregano was almost unheard of in the United States until soldiers came back from Italian World War II assignments raving about it. This herb, sometimes called wild marjoram , belongs to the mint family and is related to both marjoram and Thyme.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a species, native in Europe especially in the Mediterranean area and is characterized by high antioxidant effects due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. There are more than 75 identified constituents. The key to Oregano oil's amazing power is the synergistic combination of chemicals in their naturally occurring ratio. Turkish and Greek oregano are highly regarded, with the Turkish usually higher in carvacrol. Oregano is similar to marjoram but is not as sweet and has a stronger, more pungent flavor and aroma. Because of its pungency, it requires a bit more caution in its use. Mediterranean oregano is milder...
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