One of my favorite herbs is oregano especially dried but it is used fresh. I don’t know what it is I just love the stuff had it in my tuna fish sandwich at lunch today, my wife says it’s good on pizza but…. There are three common types: Origanum heracleoticum (Greek Oregano), Origanum majorna (sweet marjoram) and Origanum vulgare(wild marjoram, common marjoram, etc.; seems like this sub-species is very common).
I like Greek oregano so I wanted more and found this info at About.com
Greek name and pronunciation:
Rigani, ρίγανη, pronounced REE-gah-nee
At the market:
Oregano is sold fresh and dried as cuttings of flower tops and leaves packaged in disposable containers or as dried, ground leaves packaged in sprinkle-pour bottles.
Caution: Not all oreganos are equal. Greek oregano (rigani) is a subspecies with the latin name Origanum vulgare (previously Origanum heracleoticum or Oreganum heraclites). Look at oregano package labeling to identify it.
Greek Oregano, in bloom, reaches a height of almost two feet. Like all culinary oreganos, its flower is white. Its leaves are coarse, oval, and fuzzy. Leaves are about 5/8 inch long; they are dark green when fresh and light green when dried.
In Greek cooking, oregano is used in tomato sauces, with meats, fish, cheese, egg dishes, salads, cheeses, and with vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans. It is also used to prepare a tea that is believed to be a treatment for indigestion, coughs, and to stimulate menstruation.
Marjoram (three parts of marjoram for two parts of oregano), thyme, basil, summer savory
Origin, History, and Mythology:
Today, several varieties of oregano are grown in many different parts of the world, from seeds planted in light, dry, and well-drained soils. Historically, as the name implies, Greek oregano originates on the mountain slopes of Greece. It continues to be an important erosion-control plant: its roots reduce soil erosion on mountain slopes. Greek hillsides covered with summer’s growth of wild oregano in bloom are a fantastic excursion for eyes, feet, and nose!
The name “oregano” means “joy of the mountain” and has its origins in the ancient Greek “oros” (mountain) and “ganos” (joy).
According to Greek mythology, the sweet, spicy scent of oregano was created by the goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. In ancient Greece, bridal couples were crowned with garlands of oregano. Oregano plants were placed on tombs to give peace to departed spirits. It was also used as a laxative because of its cathartic effect.
Oregano’s power to heal has been known for centuries. It has powerful bacteria and fungi killing properties. It is used as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Oregano tea is a treatment for indigestion, coughs, and to stimulate menstruation. The oil of oregano is used for toothache, and in some cosmetics. The leaves and flowering stems are natural antiseptics because of high thymol content.
Then at whfoods.org if found this info..
The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor of oregano makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. This popular herb whose name means “mountain joy” is available throughout the year.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. It is a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. In Mediterranean climates oregano grows as a perennial plant, but in the harsher climates of North America, they grow as annuals……..
You may have seen a bottle marked “oil of oregano” in a health food store. There are good reasons why!
An Effective Anti-Bacterial
The volatile oils in this spice include thymol and carvacrol, both of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus . In Mexico, researchers have compared oregano to tinidazol, a commonly used prescription drug to treat infection from the amoeba Giardia lamblia. These researchers found oregano to be more effective against Giardia than the commonly used prescription drug.
Potent Anti-Oxidant Activity
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.
A Nutrient-Dense Spice
Our food ranking system qualified oregano as a very good source of fiber. Fiber works in the body to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and remove them from the body. This forces the body to break down cholesterol to make more bile salts. These are just some of the reasons that diets high in fiber have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Oregano also emerged from our food ranking system as a bountiful source of many nutrients. It qualified within our system as an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, iron, and calcium as well as a good source of vitamin E and tryptophan.
While many people think of pizza when they think of oregano, this wonderful herb can add a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. Its name is derived from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy) since not only was it a symbol of happiness, but it made the hillsides on which it grew look beautiful.
Read more at whfoods.org