Ah, oregano. No self-respecting pizzeria is without a shaker full of it nearby.
But the proverbial pizza-topper has far more uses than spicing up one of America’s favorite foods.
From curing athlete’s foot to helping fight cancer, oregano has unsung medical properties, and growing it in your garden or right there on your window sill is, well, easier than pie.
How to Grow Oregano
Oregano seeds germinate in a week. It takes roughly six weeks for it to turn into a full-grown plug. Once the sprout is about six inches tall, you’ll need to move it to your garden or to a bigger pot.
It only takes another six weeks for oregano to reach maturity. Fully grown, oregano plants are usually about 12 to 18 inches in height.
And you can skip the fertilizer. Oregano is hearty enough to grow without it and actually prefers dry soil, with sandy loam being its favorite. In fact, oregano doesn’t need much attention at all.
This undemanding herb loves heat and would find any temperatures under 60 degrees Farhenheit chilly. Its other requisite is sunshine. Oregano needs a good six to eight hours worth each day.
If you lack a sunny spot, oregano does great under fluorescent lamps, but even better under sodium lamps—as do all herbs.
If transplanted to an outside garden, oregano should be spaced about a foot apart.
For the indoor herbalist, a 10-inch pot that’s about six to eight inches deep will be more than perfect summer accommodations for your eclectic oregano.
Wherever you grow your oregano, pinch it often. Start when your oregano sprout hits about four inches in height and pinch back about once a week. Pinching not only helps oregano grow fatter leaves, but also keeps them from flowering, which results in a zestier flavor. And don’t throw away the snippets. They already have great flavor and a host of uses.
Insect Repellant Without the Chemicals
In fact, oregano, you could say, has a split personality. It doubles as formidable pest control for the rest of the garden, both outdoors and indoors.
The reason lies in its main ingredient, carvacrol, which gives oregano its pungent aroma. Proverbial garden pests hate it, as do house flies and mosquitoes, which also makes oregano a great natural insect repellent to boot.
You can even throw some oregano on that cut or scrape you got from venturing too far off the trail on your nature walk, since oregano has long been used for its antiseptic properties as well.
Other herbs boast similar powers, but none have the diversity and potency of oregano.
Oregano also contains thymol and a-terpinene, which combined with its carvacrol ingredient, have proven to kill off bacteria, including the antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and other infectious bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus—the cause of food poisoning and skin infections.
Oregano has also been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and other intestinal woes, including what is called leaky gut, a common ailment that causes bloating, diarrhea, and eating disorders.
As Anti-Fungal as It Gets
Oregano is also considered the mother of all cures when it comes to dreaded fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Some have reported “overnight relief” of chronic itchy feet with the use of oregano.
A Delicious Cure-All
Oregano is also chock-full of omega-3s, antioxidants, and the amino acid arginine, which is a known combatant of cholesterol. Combined, this leafy team has shown the ability to lower cholesterol levels by nearly 10 percent.
Lab results have shown overwhelming evidence that carvacrol also can relieve pain.
Carvacrol has also shown promising results in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in breast cancer patients, as well as people suffering from lung and liver-related cancer.
Carvacrol has even shown to block the formation of fat cells, making it a potential aid in weight loss efforts.
Oregano is also touted as a potential inhibitor to osteoporosis since it also contains magnesium, which helps maintain strong bones.
And last, but certainly not least, oregano has shown to lower blood pressure and has even been recognized in medical studies as an effective aid in the treatment of heart disease.
Needless to say, oregano definitely puts more than a tasty pizzazz in pizza.