Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 873–888 | Cite as

Origanum spp.: an update of their chemical and biological profiles

  • Mariangela Marrelli
  • Giancarlo A. Statti
  • Filomena Conforti


The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of most recent studies about potential pharmaceutical applications of plants belonging to Origanum genus. Oregano is one of the most famous and economically important culinary herbs in the world. The genus Origanum includes more than 70 species mainly distributed around the Mediterranean region. The vernacular name “oregano” is attributed to a vast number of species. O. vulgare L. is the most variable species of the genus and the most commonly known as oregano in most countries. Today, it is generally accepted that oregano is a characteristic flavour produced by a number of plant species that yield carvacrol-rich essential oils. The genus Origanum is characterised by a large morphological and chemical diversity. Because of their several biological activities, such as antimicrobial, expectorant, antispasmodic and carminative, Origanum species have been used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases. The botany and chemotaxonomy of the species are thoroughly reported, along with chemical constituents. The in vitro and in vivo effects of Origanum extracts are presented and discussed.


Biological activity Essential oil Origanum sp. Phenols Terpenes 



H-ras transformed rat embryonic fibroblasts


Butylated hydroxyanisole


Butylated hydroxytoluene


Rat brain tumour cell line


1,1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazil radical


Glucose transporter-2


Human embryonic kidney cells 


Human cervix carcinoma cell line


Hepatocarcinoma cell line


Human liver cancer cell line


Colon carcinoma cell line


Lipoprotein lipase




Minimal fungicidal concentration


Human pancreas carcinoma cell line


Minimal inhibitory concentration


Minimum inhibitory dose


Nitric oxide


Propyl gallate

RAW 264.7

Mouse macrophage cell line


Reactive oxygen species




African green monkey kidney epithelium cells


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional SciencesUniversity of CalabriaRendeItaly

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