Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lawin Project Series: Oregano (Coleus amboinicus) for Medicine, Culinary and Pest Control

Oregano (Coleus amboinicus) for Medicine, Culinary and Pest Control
Oregano is a centuries-old remedy for many ailments, from bad digestion to diabetes. It is an excellent food adjunct. To Italians, it is the secret of their cooking and making pizza, just as the Mexican make chili con carne. Our own dinuguan tastes best with this aromatic herb.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday


Two types of oregano: local (dark green) and variegated (Italian). The variegated oregano is sensitive to Philippine condition. It was given to the author by Dr Domingo Tapiador who brought it from Rome where he was based with UN-FAO headquarters.

There is always oregano (Coleus amboinicus) at home, ready to ease cough and sore throat. I imagine myself wearing a handkerchief around my head, advising my family and neighbors not to take cough drops or antibiotics for simple colds.

I tell them to pick a young leaf or two of oregano and chew it while taking juice or soft drinks. Or blanch it, extract the juice, and add sugar and warm water. It is practical and there are no side effects. And what a feeling! No wonder the plant's name which comes from the Greek words, Ore/Oros means mountain, and ganos is joy. Joy on the mountain.
Pliny the Elder claimed oregano as a remedy for bad digestion. To Italians, it is the secret of their cooking and making pizza, just as the Mexican make chili con carne. Our own dinuguan tastes best with this aromatic herb.

On the other hand, I found out that oregano is an insect repellant. I noticed that mosquitoes, flies and roaches are kept away by its odor. Oregano has essential oil, thymol, which is also a strong antiseptic and disinfectant.

Warning: Oregano extract is not advisable for plant pest control, specially on garden plants, either as spray or sprinkle solution. It has allelophatic substance, which means it is phytotoxic to certain plants, causing stunting or death. Never plant oregano side by side with your favorite garden plants like rose, mayana, anthurium and ground orchid.

Plant oregano in pots by cutting, or the whole shoot or branch. It can grow in the shade or under direct sunlight, with moderate amount of water. During rainy months keep the potted plants away from too much rain water. Oregano grows best in summer, but don't forget to water it regularly. A full grown oregano can be made into cuttings which you can grow in individual plastic pots to supply the neighborhood - as token or gift. It takes a cutting to reach full growth in two to three weeks. ~

Acknowledgement: Philippine Medicinal Plants (Internet)

This information is helpful to medicine, pharmacology, botanical research, and to the public in general. It is the intention of this program, Paaralan Bayan sa Himpapawid to encourage the use of natural medicine and food, and to potential scientists to direct their attention to our own indigenous resources as the subject of their study.

- Fresh leaves yield 0.055 volatile oil, largely carvacrol.
- Phytochemical screening yielded carbohydrates, proteins, phenols, tannins, flavanoids, saponins, glycosides.
- Aerial parts yielded essential oil with 28 constituents, 16 of which were identified. Thymol (83.39%) was the major compound, while 1-octen-3-ol, terpine-4-ol, eugenol, trans-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide and α-cadinol were present as minor constituents. (16)
- Study of flowers and aerial parts for essential oils yielded four compounds from flowers oil and twelve from the aerial parts. The major constituent was carvacrol in flowers and aerial parts, 50.98% and 77.16% respectively. Other constituents were p-cymene, ß-caryophyllene, and trans-a-bergamotene.
- Aromatic, carminative (relieving flatulence), emmenagogue (encourages menstrual bleeding) , diaphoretic (increase sweating), tonic, stimulant.
- In India, considered antilithiotic, chemopreventive, antiepileptic, antioxidant.

· As condiment, provides fragrance to salads and strong-smelling meat dishes.
· Sometimes, used as flavoring for drinks.
· In India, leaves of the green type often eaten raw with bread and butter. Chopped leaves used as a substitute for sage.
· In the Philippines, macerated fresh leaves applied externally to burns.
· Leaves are bruised and applied to centipede and scorpion bites. Also, applied to temples and forehead for headache, help in place by a bandage.
· Leaves in infusion or as syrup used as aromatic and carminative; used for dyspepsia and also as a cure for asthma.
· The Malays used the plant juice or decoction for pains around the areas of the heart or abdomen.
· Decoction of leaves given after childbirth.

· In Indo-China, given for asthma and bronchitis.
· The juice of the leaves for dyspepsia, asthma, chronic coughs, bronchitis, colic, flatulence, rheumatism. The dose is one tablespoonful of the fresh juice every hour for adults and one teaspoonful every two hours, four times daily, for children. As an infusion, 50 to 60 grams to a pint of boiling water, and drink the tea, 4 to 5 glasses a day. For children, 1/2 cup 4 times daily.
· For otalgia (ear aches), pour the fresh, pure juice into the ear for 10 minutes.
· For carbuncles, boils, sprains, felons, painful swellings: Apply the poultice of leaves to the affected area, four times daily.
· For sore throats, a decoction of two tablespoonfuls of dried leaves to a pint of boiling water, taken one hour before or after meals.

· In India, leaves are used traditionally for bronchitis, asthma, diarrhea, epilepsy, nephro-cystolithiasis, fever, indigestion and cough. Also used for malarial fever, hepatopathy, renal and vesicle calculi, hiccup, helminthiasis, colic, and convulsions.
· The Chinese used the juice of leaves with sugar, for cough in children, asthma and bronchitis, epilepsy and convulsive disorders.
· Leaves are applied to cracks at the corners of the mouth, for thrush, headaches; against fever as a massage or as a wash.
· Used for bladder and urinary afflictions, and vaginal discharges.
· Used as carminative, given to children for colic.
· In Bengal, used for coli and dyspepsia.
· Expressed juice applied around the orbit to relieve conjunctival pain.

Fresh leaves rubbed on clothing or hair at the time of bathing for its scent.
Respiratory ailments like cough, asthma and bronchitis: Squeeze juice of the leaves. Take one teaspoon every hour for adults. For children above 2 years old, 3 to 4 teaspoons a day inflated throat, and short lips. 

Acknowledgement: Philippine Alternative Medicine (Internet)

 NOTE: Many homes have other useful plants on their backyards, such as
  • Soro-soro, a species of Euphorbia used to control ringworm;
  • Lagundi (Vitex lagundi) is good for fever and flu;
  • Alovera (Aloe vera) for burns;
  • Pandakaki (Tabernamontana pandacaqui) for minor cuts;
  • Bayabas (Psidium guajava) for skin infection and allergy;
  • Ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata) for natural freshener;
  • Sampaguita (Jasminium sambac) for lei and natural air freshener.

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