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Cass Ingram

Ancient Uses of Wild Oregano: Proof of Modern Powers

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.

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