When we hear the word oregano, our thoughts often turn to the scent of freshly baked pizza and the Mediterranean, but origanum vulgare, or kungsmynta, as the plant is also called, grows wild in the mountains and on rocky mountain slopes in the Nordic region. There is a long tradition of using dried kungsmynta leaves as a seasoning in traditional Nordic cuisine. In fact, it ranks as the second most used herb in our history.

Even the first educated physician in the Nordic region, the Dane Henrik Harpestreng, mentioned kungsmynta in his writings from the 13th century. He also used the name ”kung” for the plant. Variations of this designation, like ”kung,” ”stenkung,” ”kungsgräs,” and others, are the most common names in folklore to this day. The origin of the name simply lies in the fact that the plant was large and beautiful and grew on rocky mountain slopes.

During Harpestreng’s time, kungsmynta was often crushed and mixed with honey as a remedy for coughs and jaundice. Tea extracts were considered effective for throat swelling, and pressed juice from the plant was recommended for intestinal parasites, improving eyesight and hearing. The English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended oregano tea for digestive problems, lack of appetite, cough, and cleansing the body of waste substances in urine and bile. He also believed the plant affected the menstrual cycle and could be used against snakebites.

Killing Effect on Fungi and Parasites The essential oils are responsible for the powerful aromatic scent. The dominant substance is thymol, which is better known as thyme. Thymol is both a disinfectant and antispasmodic and works very well in severe cough attacks (e.g., whooping cough). It also has a killing effect on fungi and parasites of several kinds of intestinal worms. For such use, it is commercially available on the internet as origanum oil/oreganol, either as pure essential oil or in capsules.

Because kungsmynta contains much less thymol than thyme, it has been somewhat overshadowed in modern medical use. However, it can partially replace thyme in cough mixtures. The antispasmodic effect is enhanced by adding small amounts of the insect-eating plant sileshår. Kungsmynta tea stimulates digestion and can also be used as a gargle for mouth and throat inflammations. In addition to the disinfecting effect of thymol, the plant’s tannins also inhibit bacterial infections.

The medicinal plant known as ”Origanum vulgare”, also called oregano, grows wild throughout the Nordic region


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