Oregano is one of the most popular perennial herbs to grow in any herb garden. Most are familiar with using it to flavor foods like pizza and pasta sauce – in fact, U.S. soldiers returning home after the Second World War brought back a fondness for what they called the “pizza herb” with them. Today, it’s found in almost everyone’s kitchen cabinet for culinary use as it makes all sorts of dishes taste better while protecting fats from oxidation during cooking, and making them pair especially well with fatty foods like cream sauces and cheeses.

Oregano originally came from warm climates in western and southwestern Eurasia, as well as the Mediterranean region. It’s a perennial plant with the characteristics of an herb, green and leaflike, with round shaped leaves. The herb was first used by the Greeks, who believed it was created by the Goddess Aphrodit, who wanted it to be a symbol of joy growing in her garden – the word “oregano” means “mountain joy,” and it became revered as a symbol of happiness by both the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The ancient Greeks used it as a poison antidote, as well as to treat infections, skin irritations, and convulsions. Their love of oregano spread throughout Europe and Northern Africa, and by the Middle Ages, it was commonly used not only for its taste but for medicinal purposes like relieving the pain of a toothache, indigestion, coughing and rheumatism.

Today we know why the herb has been a favorite for so long. Of course, it adds flavor, but it’s also filled with many essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K as well as iron, folate, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Plus, it contains powerful phytochemicals that are responsible for much of its medicinal benefits.

As such a popular herb with an incredible variety of uses, it’s really a must to grow in your garden – if you haven’t planted it yet, consider these reasons for getting inspired to do so.

1. Strengthening the immune system

Oregano is loaded with antioxidants, in fact, according to renowned physician Dr. Mercola, it has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings out there, packing 42 times the antioxidant punch as apples. As Mercola reports, a 2003 study published in the Journal of Nutrition noted that an “…intake of herbs [including oregano] may…contribute significantly to the total intake of plant antioxidants, and be an even better source of dietary antioxidants than many other food groups such as fruits, berries, cereals, and vegetables.”

One of the active agents in oregano is rosmarinic acid, a potent antioxidant that may help strengthen your immune system so that you can better fight off illnesses like a cold, flu and a host of diseases.

2. Oregano offers the ‘forgotten vitamin,’ vitamin K

Oregano is a rich natural source of vitamin K, an important vitamin that is often overlooked. Sometimes called the “forgotten vitamin,” it’s best known for its key role in blood clotting, but it’s also essential for preventing heart disease, building strong bones and an important part of many other processes in the body.

If you’re deficient in vitamin K, it can contribute or cause many problems, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, tooth decay, infectious diseases, brain health diseases like dementia, and even a number of cancers, like leukemia, lung cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer.

3. Oregano provides antibacterial and antifungal properties

The reason oregano oil is sold in so many health food and specialty shops is that it offers powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. That’s because it contains thymol and carvacrol, two oils known for their remarkable ability to fight bacteria and possibly even kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria as well as the superbug MRSA, according to research. One of the experts in the 2013 study focused on its antibacterial abilities explained, “We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by heating in boiling water.”

Another study, conducted in 2001 out of Maryland’s Georgetown University published in Science Daily found that the oil of oregano’s germ-killing properties were nearly as effective as most antibiotics. Head researcher Harry G. Preuss, MD, MACN, CNS, professor of physiology and biophysics, noted, “While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant further study. The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidal’s under a variety of conditions.”

Read more: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/grow-oregano/