Origanum vulgare L.

Last updated: 14 October 2016

Scientific Name

Origanum vulgare L.


Mentha formosana (C.Marquand) S.S.Ying, Micromeria formosana C.Marquand, Origanum albiflorum K.Koch, Origanum americanum Raf. Origanum anglicum Hill, Origanum barcense Simonk. Origanum capitatum Willd. ex Benth., Origanum creticum L., Origanum decipiens Wallr. ex Benth., Origanum dilatatum Klokov, Origanum elegans Sennen, Origanum latifolium Mill., Origanum laxiflorum Royle ex Benth.,   Origanum loureiroi Kostel., Origanum micranthum Colla, Origanum nutans Willd. ex Benth., Origanum officinale Gueldenst., Origanum orientale Mill., Origanum puberulum (Beck) Klokov, Origanum serpylliforme Fisch. & C.A.Mey., Origanum stoloniferum Besser ex Rchb., Origanum thymiflorum Rchb., Origanum venosum Willd. ex Benth. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Oregano, wild marjoram [2]
Philippines Oregano, suganda, torongil de Limon [2]
France Origan [2]
United States of America Mediterranean or European oregano [2].

Geographical Distributions

Origanum vulgare is predominantly a Mediterranean genus, especially of the eastern part (more than 75% of the species). O. vulgare most probably originated in the Mediterranean, but it is widely distributed now from the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, throughout Europe and the Mediterranean to West and Central Asia and Taiwan. It is also cultivated in many countries of the world, including Southeast Asia (e.g. Indonesia, the Philippines) where it is more important than O. majorana. [2]

Botanical Description

O. vulgare is a member of the Lamiaceae family. O. vulgare is a woody perennial that can grow up to 1 m tall. The stem is ascends, with roots at the base, purplish-brown, hairy to hairless and with the branches measure up to 25 cm long. [2]

The leaves are up to 45 pairs per stem. The petiole is up to 2 cm long. The blade is ovate to roundish, measuring 6-40 mm x 5-30 mm, hairy to hairless, with glandular (100-2000 glands per cm2) and entire or remotely serrulate at the margin. The spike is 3-35 mm x 2-8 mm. The bracts are 2-25 pairs per spike, subovate, measuring 2-11 mm x 1-7 mm, hairy to hairless and purplish to greenish. [2]

The sepal is tubular, measures 2.5-4.5 mm long, with 0.5-1 mm long teeth and hairy to hairless. The petal is 3-11 mm long, purple, pink or white and hairy outside. The lobes of the upper lip are 0.2-0.7 mm long. The lobes of the lower lip are unequal and measure 0.5-1.7 mm long. The upper pair of the stamens measure up to 4.5 mm long while the lower pair measures up to 5.5 mm long. The style measures up to 13 mm long. [2]


O. vulgare is a sun-loving plant. Being temperate and subtropical in origin, it can survive cold weather conditions. However, O. vulgare is hardier than marjoram. In its natural habitat, O. vulgare grows on limestone soil up to 4000 m altitude. O. vulgare prefers light dry soils with a pH of 4.5-8.7. The mean water requirement during the growing period is 500-1000 mm, and the average temperature should not be lower than 15°C, although plants may survive much worse conditions. In the tropics, the crop grows best at altitudes of 1000-2000 m. In the Philippines, O. vulgare is cultivated in Silang, Cavite, which is at 600 m altitude with an average annual temperature of 23-25°C. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

Leaf oil/ leaf extract. [2]

Traditional Use

O. vulgare may have antibacterial and antifungal properties. A number of studies have looked at oregano’s ability to help the body ward off an array of intestinal parasites and bacteria. [3][4] 

Laboratory studies have shown that rosmarinic acid, which is contained in oregano and some other herbs, has been reported to inhibit cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) to an extent comparable to ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. This may indicate the ability to reduce inflammation. [5]

Compounds present in oregano may function as antioxidants in the body, thus helping prevent cellular and tissue damage from free radicals. [6]

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.

Side effects

O. vulgare has been reported to cause individuals experience an allergic reaction when taking this dietary supplement. Call your doctor or seek medical attention if you have fast or irregular breathing, skin rash, hives or itching. [7]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

O. vulgare has not been reported to cause any adverse effects related to fatal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding. [8]

Age limitation

O. vulgare has not been reported to cause any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician. [8]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


Most Common Dosage

Leaf extract: 250mg, 3 times a day. [8]

Concentrated oil extract: 5-10 drops, 3 times a day. [8]

Tea: One cup several times a day using one teaspoonful of herb per cup.[8]

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of O. vulgare. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Origanum vulgare L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Oct 12]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-143954
  2. De Guzman CC, Jansen PCM. Origanum L. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 156-161.
  3. Dorman HJ, Deans SG. Antimicrobial agents from plants: Antibacterial activity of plant volatile oils. J Appl Microbiol. 2000;88(2):308-316.
  4. Force M, Sparks WS, Ronzio RA. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Phytother Res. 2000;14(3):213-214.
  5. Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine. 2000;7(1):7-13.
  6. Lamaison JL, Petitjean-Freytet C, Carnat A. Medicinal Lamiaceae with antioxidant properties, a potential source of rosmarinic acid. Pharm Acta Helv. 1991;66(7):185-188.
  7. Benito M, Jorro G, Morales C, Peláez A, Fernández A. Labiatae allergy: systemic reactions due to ingestion of oregano and thyme. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1996;76(5):416-418.
  8. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, 2000; p. 560.