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Greek Oregano: The Taste of Greece

As one of the defining flavours of Greece, oregano is widely used in Greek cuisine for its flavour. But it has also been used since the time of the ancients for therapeutic reasons too.

Greek oregano, which grows native to the country, differs from oregano species of neighbouring areas and is the form of oregano most widely used in the country.

Join us as we explore the character, benefits and uses of this most popular Greek herb…


What is Greek Οregano?

Oregano - tofillo

True Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum) is considered the best in the world due to its distinctive and exceptional characteristics that occur not only in its wild state, but also when it is cultivated on Greek farmland. As a result, it is a variety of oregano that is particularly sought after. Various other types of oregano can be found in the Mediterranean region, such as Italian and Turkish, and globally there are even more varieties. All of these are species of the Labiatae family which includes other aromatic plants like mint, basil, thyme, rosemary and sage.

Greek oregano of course gets its name from its abundant presence in the Greek landscape. Compared to its Mediterranean cousins, Italian and Turkish oregano, it has a stronger flavour that is earthy, slightly spicy and aromatic, so it’s not typically interchangeable with other oregano varieties for recipes.

As you will see later in this article, its uses in cooking are virtually limitless!


Greek Oregano History

Did you know that in Greek mythology, oregano had a romantic beginning? According to myth, the Greek goddess Aphrodite – goddess of love and beauty – created and grew the herb in her garden on Mount Olympus. As the story goes, she made it a symbol of happiness and joy for the Greek people and so the ancient Greeks widely used the herb in wedding ceremonies and for good luck.

Indeed, the word oregano comes from two Greek words: “oros” meaning mountain, and “ganos” meaning joy. So oregano literally means ‘joy of the mountain’!

Oregano’s earliest known use dates back 4,000 years ago to Turkey. Some time later, the famous Greek physician Hippocrates was regularly prescribing it to his patients to relieve digestive issues and soothe respiratory illnesses. At this time, Ancient Greek and Roman culture had also embraced the use of oregano in cooking.

Later, in the middle-ages in Europe and China, the tradition of using oregano for medicinal purposes continued. People would use oregano therapeutically for conditions like rheumatism, toothache and fevers.

By the Elizabethan era, much of the superstition around oregano’s powers re-emerged. It was used to bring about happiness, health and good luck – to name just a few!

With oregano, we recall all the fragrant memories of the Greek land!

Oregano Benefits

Oregano Properties - tofilloWe mentioned above how oregano has been used for therapeutic benefits throughout history, such as for digestive issues, rheumatism and bodily aches. The herb is still traditionally used for these kinds of issues today.[1]

Indeed, there are many benefits of this great herb! Here are just a few more…




  1. Good for heart health and general health

We’ve seen in some other articles on chamomile tea and sage essential oil that antioxidants are abundant in many Greek herbs and flowers, and Greek oregano is no different. It contains a high level of antioxidants,[2] particularly a high level of the antioxidant thymol which has numerous health benefits.

The antioxidants in oregano are able to neutralise free radicals in our body. Free radicals can cause damage to functions of the body, including the heart. Because of oregano’s high level of antioxidants, it’s therefore a great herb for general health and wellbeing, including heart health. Here you will find our article on antioxidant properties of herbs.

So next time you’re making a heart-healthy meal, why not include some oregano? At tofillo we love to include our Dried Greek Oregano when making pasta for the whole family at the weekends!

  1. Fights inflammation

We all know that inflammation is a big health concern in our modern times. It seems that a lot of our modern conveniences – fast food, transport, sedentary lifestyles – can all cause inflammation in the body.

Well did you know that oregano contains high levels of a compound called carvacrol which has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties? In an animal study, researchers found that carvacrol reduced swelling in mice’s paws by up to 57%.[3] And in another animal study, researchers found that a mixture of oregano and thyme essential oils also reduced internal digestive inflammation in mice.[4]

So while research specific to human reactions still needs to be done, the science already shows support for the traditional practise of using oregano to fight inflammation.


  1. Helps manage diabetes

Another epidemic that we face in the world today is diabetes. With the mass production of sweets and highly processed foods, increasing numbers of people around the world are developing type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, in animal studies, oregano extract was shown to help improve insulin resistance and restore damaged liver and kidney tissue (which can cause diabetes).[5]

While we can’t say that the use of oregano alone will prevent or cure diabetes, the science shows that it can form at least part of an effective treatment plan for diabetes.


  1. Antibacterial and antiviral properties

One big issue facing modern medicine today is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant diseases. Amazingly, researchers found that oregano’s antibacterial properties were able to significantly affect various bacteria that were not responding to other drugs.[6] Though more research needs to be done, this early research suggests that because of oregano’s antibacterial properties, it could be used to fight antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Oregano also has strong antiviral properties, because of its high content of thymol and carvacrol compounds. In particular, carvacrol has been shown to inactivate the norovirus (a virus that causes stomach flu) within one hour of treatment![7] Additionally, both thymol and carvacrol have been shown to inactivate 90% of the herpes simplex virus, also within one hour of treatment.[8]

Those were just a few great benefits of oregano. Now, you must be wondering – how can you use oregano to both enjoy the delicious taste and get those great benefits?

Well, here are some ideas…

Who doesn’t remember her scent? Whether as a herbal tea or as a spice, oregano has the most characteristic aroma of our country! We are re-flavoring our dishes, our salads, our roasts and our bread!

How to use oregano

Oregano Seasoning

Oregano - tofilloOregano is used so widely in Greek cooking that if Greece had a national herb, it would be oregano!

Greek oregano has a warm and slightly sour and spicy taste, which can vary in intensity depending on the conditions it’s grown in. The herb gives an earthy, savoury flavour to various dishes, such as grilled meats and salads.

In fact, the flavour is even more pronounced when using the dried form of the herb – unlike most other herbs, it becomes more flavourful when it’s dried.

At tofillo we love to use our Dried Greek Oregano in many dishes, from a traditional preparation of Greek lamb to homemade pasta sauce, to grilling some Greek feta cheese with tomatoes.

Here are two more of our favourite and most traditional uses of oregano:




  • Oregano on Pizza

You’ll often hear people refer to oregano as the ‘pizza herb’. That’s how popular it is to use with the tasty combination of dough, tomato sauce and melted cheese! We recommend using our Dried Greek Oregano for pizzas – it gives a stronger flavour that stands up well to the tomato sauce and cheese.


  • Oregano on Greek Salad

Greek Salad Recipe- Χωριάτικη Σαλάτα Σύνταγή


Of course, as the taste of Greece, oregano is an essential part of the Greek salad. Combined with other traditional ingredients (cucumber, tomato, feta, olives and onion), oregano elevates the flavour of a Greek salad. It makes it taste earthy and robust and we find that the oregano works well with the onion to cut through the creaminess of the feta cheese. Delicious!







Oregano Tea

Aside from seasoning, another good use of oregano is as a herb for tea.

Oregano tea is a warm, earthy, and slightly spicy tea, so it’s perfect for when you want a nourishing drink. By drinking it, you can obtain some of the health benefits of oregano we’ve explored earlier in this article. What’s more, some of the traditional benefits of oregano tea also include things like: soothing muscle cramps and menstrual pain, soothing symptoms of common colds and preventing constipation and diarrhea.

Those were just a few facts for starting. To learn more, take a look at our article on oregano tea.


Oregano Essential Oil

Finally, another great way to benefit from oregano is through oregano essential oil.

Did you know that Greek oregano has the highest concentration of essential oregano oil, compared to any other oregano variety worldwide?

As you would expect, oregano essential oil provides a lot of the great benefits that we explored above. In particular, it has very strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research has shown that oregano essential oil can block the growth of certain infectious bacteria,[9] and also that because of the oil’s high thymol content, it can help treat common fungal infections like nail infections, athlete’s foot and yeast infections.[10]


So that was our walk-through some of the great benefits and uses of this powerful herb! As you’ve seen, oregano has been used over thousands of years for its great taste and health benefits!


If you’ve been inspired to include more Greek oregano in your cooking or tea, then head over to our Dried Greek Oregano product page in our online shop. We hope you enjoy it!


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5874591/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8933203/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22892022/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18288268/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5242351/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182053/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24779581/

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22890541/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23484421/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659158/

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