Oregano (Coleous aromaticus Benth) is an unobtrusive plant usually found in the backyard of houses in the provinces. However, this ordinary indigenous plant has extraordinary potential for culinary and medical applications.
A study conducted by Dr. Estela C. Taño of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station (QAES), oregano contains essential elements which are carminative (relieves flatulence), emmenagogue (ability to provoke menstruation), and diaphoretic (increase sweating). Oregano also finds used in improving digestion and blood circulation. It has the potential to cure asthma, chronic and dry coughs, bronchitis, and for effective removal of phlegm. In fact, through continuous research, Dr. Taño has created different products that are now available in the market.
Oregano is only one among the indigenous plants that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is promoting through the Indigenous Plants for Health and Wellness RDE Program. This program is a joint effort of Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) that studies in-depth the country’s indigenous plants on its various purposes such as functional food, herbal medicine, and as raw material for pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical products. The program promotes and highlights the importance of indigenous plants and their by-products in improving people’s health while creating employment and additional livelihood opportunities in the provinces to help improve the local economy.
With this, BAR has embarked on an information campaign to promote awareness on the program, the conduct of seminars and the distribution of books and other related materials not only in the provinces but also in metro Manila. In fact, BAR 2010 technology calendar features “herbs and spices” (one of the components of the program) with the theme “adding flavor to agriculture, promoting herbs and spices in the Philippines”. The calendar features the most common herbs and spices indigenous to the country. These are sweet basil, parsely, peppermint, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano, fennel, and cilantro for herbs while chives, black pepper and turmeric for spices.
Like oregano, each of these indigenous plants has its own potentials not only for culinary purposes but for other uses like medicine, and as raw material for pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical products as well.