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Cure Yourself with Ancient Aztec Herb and Plant Remedies


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  • 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 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 than the Mexican variety, which is generally used in highly spiced dishes.

    Fresh Mediterranean or European oregano is sometimes available in gourmet produce sections of supermarkets and in Italian or Greek markets. Choose bright-green, fresh-looking bunches with no sign of wilting or yellowing. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.

    Dried Mediterranean oregano is readily available in any supermarket in both crumbled and powdered forms. The stronger-flavored Mexican oregano can generally be found in its dried form in Latin markets. As with all dried herbs, oregano should be stored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months. Oregano goes extremely well with tomato-based dishes and is a familiar pizza herb.

  • Click Here for Oregano Image
    Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition,
    Sharon Tyler Herbst.

    Oregano Link

    Properties of Oregano Favored by Aztec's