Wild Oregano

Wild Oregano - Botany And History

Country borage, better known as wild oregano is, as the name suggests, a medicinal herb that is found in the wild that closely resembles cultivated oregano in its aroma, although little can be said of its flavour in relation to its cultivated relatives. Native to several parts of Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean, it is a celebrated medicinal herb, with the use as a vegetable for a variety of different dishes.

This plant is characterised by its distinct heart-shaped leaves and highly aromatic verdant smell, and for the uniquely shaped flowers that resemble whorls that terminate in a point, making the whole flowering part resemble a sprig of rosemary.

Wild Oregano - Herbal Uses

When distilled, the leaves of the wild oregano yield a potent anti-bacterial and antibiotic essential oil that is nowadays, much lauded and raved about in the alternative medicine circles. The main constituent of this wonderful oil is the chemical compound carvacrol which acts as a natural antibiotic that cleanses the cells and destroys pathogens, without the unpleasant side effects of creating mutant 'antibiotic-resistant' bacterial strains. [9] This essential oil may be used in conjunction with other helpful oils, either topically or internally, although the consumption of essential oils is rarely advisable without professional feedback and advice from a licensed herbalist, homeopathic therapist, or any knowledgeable and reliable medical practitioner. It, along with a natural combination of therapeutic compounds, not only make wild oregano a prime antimicrobial, antibiotic, and immuno-stimulatory herb, but controlled consumption of wild oregano, or an integration of the herb to one's diet and list of medicinal remedies invariably benefits the whole of the person in the long run.

For culinary use, wild oregano is used to add flavour to salads and meat dishes, as well as an aromatic in soups and stews. [1] The juice of the wild oregano may also be extracted and used to flavour cooling beverages, or otherwise made as a soothing tisane. The ancient Greeks, which used oregano and all of its other strains for both culinary and medicinal purposes, once employed it as a remedy for festering wounds, asthma, seizures, and poisoning. In local Philippine folkloric medicine, fresh leaves that are macerated into a near paste-like consistency can be applied topically to help treat and soothe the symptoms of first-degree to second-degree burns. The macerated leaves are also used traditionally to treat poisonous insect stings. Due to its soothing scent, macerated leaves may also be employed as a type of head-wrap to help ease migraines, headaches, and to relieve the symptoms of congested nasal passages. [2] Wild oregano may also be used as a vegetable, whereby it is mixed into soups and stews to help increase lactation and improve the quality of the breastmilk. It is employed in traditional Malayan medicine as a lactagogue, as well as a nutritive drink that is given to convalescent mothers after childbirth to restore their stamina. [3]

The most common local use for wild oregano, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indo-Chinese medicine is as a cure for asthma, bronchitis, and mild coughs. The most common method of extracting the essences of wild oregano to obtain its curative properties is to create a very strong decoction of its leaves. This yields a bitter, highly astringent yet soothingly aromatic tea which may be preserved and made more palatable by adding a sweetener such as honey or jaggery, (the former of which possesses, in the traditional belief, equally therapeutic properties that are beneficial for the body's optimal recovery) to help counteract the bitterness of the brew and prevent it from spoiling. [4] A better means to make a syrup that can be used to treat bronchial problems is to extract the juice of the leaf by maceration or by blending the whole leaves into a pulp, and then incorporating honey as a sweetener to counteract the bitterness. This potent syrup is an excellent remedy not only for minor complaints such as hoarseness of voice and sore throats, but is also a powerful cure for bronchial complaints, asthma, colic, dyspepsia, and even rheumatism. [5]

The leaves may also be crushed and mixed with oil (coconut, peanut, and sesame oils being the most commonly employed oils in the Asiatic applications that involve this herb) to create a poultice which may be used to help relieve swellings and boils, as well as hasten the recovery of sprains. [6] For faster results, the poultice may be heated either through steam, or by heating the oil prior to mixing in the crushed leaves, as heat releases the intrinsic essential oils found in the herb itself while multiplying its absorbability.

The fresh juice of the leaves may also be employed as a ready remedy for ear aches, which is done by a simple extraction of the juice through crushing the leaves. The issuing liquid must then be poured into the affected area and left to take effect for two minutes, after which the ear is tilted to the side to drain any excesses and dried. [7]

When dried wild oregano keeps well as a counter-top herb for garnishing, flavouring, and for making quick remedial tisanes for headaches and migraines; it can to allay the first symptoms of a cough or flu from progressing and can be used, in tandem with other antimicrobial and antiseptic herbs, as a facial pack / rinse, or as a hair rinse if one suffers from acne, oily skin, or flakey scalp as brought about by dandruff. Dried wild oregano leaves may also be employed for smoking, although it does not result in any noticeable effects. It has been used, however, as part of non-nicotine based smoking mixtures advertised to help individuals wean themselves off nicotine dependency without having to go cold turkey. The essential oils found in wild oregano is said to facilitate a slow 'detoxification' of the system, hence its integration in 'quit smoking' blends.

Wild Oregano - Esoteric Uses

In magickal practice, dried oregano may be smoked as a thanksgiving to spirits or in place of incense when consecrating or dedicating a place. When the dried leaves are employed as incense by throwing a handful of leaves unto smouldering coals, it is said to act as an automatic ward. In Italian witchcraft or Stregheria, wild oregano is sprinkled unto the floorboards of a home – especially a newly acquired one – and swept outside to cleanse any negative energies or malignant entities that may still reside in the household. [8]

Names of Wild Oregano, past and present

Chinese: zuo shou xiang
Spanish: oregano / torongil de limon
Filipino: suganda / clavo (lit. 'clove') / latay (lit. 'crawl') / bildu (lit. 'glass')
Simalungun: bangun-bangun (lit. 'wake-up')
Tamil: karpuravalli / omavalli
Hindi: patharcur
English: wild oregano / country borage / Mexican thyme / Mexican mint / Cuban Oregano / Spanish thyme
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Coleus amboinicus Lour.


[1] https://www.wikiherb.info/2012/07/coleus-amboinicus-lour.html
[2] https://www.stuartxchange.com/Oregano.html
[3] https://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/apjcn/procnutsoc/2000+/2001/Damanik67.pdf
[4–5] https://www.stuartxchange.com/Oregano.html
[6–7] https://the-alternative-cure.org/herbal-treatments/cuban-oregano-health-benefits/
[8] https://www.whitemagic.ca/spell/Marjoram-Or-Wild-Oregano-Is-Beli.html
[9] https://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=19866

Main article researched and created by Alexander Leonhardt,
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