Oregano for Oil
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Miguel A. Martinez
Posted on: May 22, 1999

We are interested in a 4 acre production of Origanum Vulgare, for the purpose of essential oil extraction. However, we have noticed your recomendation on the use of Greek Oregano, due to its more aromatic characteristics. Could you please advice on the matter, as well as on price and availability of the Origanum Vulgare.

The current interest in oregano oil stems from its medicinal value. A number of doctors and caompanies are promoting oregano oil extracted from wild oregano from Greece as being the only oil that is proven to be medicinally active. We carry a book on the subject which lists references to the scientific literature which you can follow up on in your research on this crop (see our online catalogue at http://www.richters.com and search for "The Cure is in the Cupboard").

Although the promotors of oregano oil claim that only their oregano is the right one, we feel that ours is at least as good. That is based on the fact that our seeds came from wild collected plant material originally. It is easy to see that our material is highly aromatic and consistent with the wild Greek material from the scent and flavour of the plants grown from our seeds.

We cannot say, however, that our material is exactly the same as what is used for the medicinal oil market -- that needs to be confirmed by gas chromatography -- but we are confident that ours will prove to be effective.

It is important to realize that there is a historical reason why the marketers of oregano oil are suggesting that only the "true wild" oregano is the correct source. For years, seeds and plants of the wrong variety of oregano were sold as "oregano". This variety did not have the characteristic spicy aroma and flavour of the imported wild material from Greece. This was the situation in the industry for at least 30 years, and much of the plant material grown in North America and Europe is of this inferior type. No wonder that the oil marketers are trying to differentiate their product from anything that might be grown from the inferior variety.

There are 4500 seeds per gram. You need 2.5 kilograms of seed to plant one hectare. The seed is very fine so it is necessary to seed heavily to compensate for seeds planted too deeply. To plant 4 acres, you will need 4 kilograms of seed. At current prices (spring 1999), 4 kg of seed costs $1,600 in Canadian funds, or approximately $1,100 in U.S. funds.

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