Herbs in History - Oregano & Onion

February 22, 2024

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In an effort to preserve and share the fascinating histories of medicinal plants and herbs that have been used around the world for ages, the AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation) is honored to partner with Alain Touwaide, Ph.D., and Emanuela Appetiti of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions to launch the Herbs in History project in 2022.

This month we cover the rich histories of oregano and onion. Both are staples in the Mediterranean diet and have been featured in world literature through the centuries. So many species for the former and so many stories for the latter...including an intriguing weather forecast technique! Preview the entries below and visit Herbs in History online to read more.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare L.)

More than Pizza
In present-day culinary and alimentary life, oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) is almost a synonym of pizza or warm focaccias garnished with small leaves of oregano, when it does not evoke Greece, a piece of feta sprinkled with ground oregano leaves and sprayed with olive oil, a few olives and a piece of bread, with a glass of wine. Though suggestive of health benefits, this gustatory and olfactory evocation sharply reduces the merits of oregano, which, in the past, were by no means limited to a pleasant meal. Its history is contradictory, however, with both a clear therapeutic profile early affirmed in history and a subsequent disappearance from the pharmacopoietic arsenal. | Read more...


Onion (Allium cepa L.)

Layers of Stories
Though not a medicinal plant strictly speaking, onion (Allium cepa L.) greatly benefits human health. Current literature concords in crediting it with a many properties: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, anthelmintic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, lithotripic, stomachic, and tonic. It is no surprise that it is abundantly used in alimentation, raw or cooked, boiled or baked, braised or grilled, pickled or caramelized, entire or finely chopped, in salad or soups, in stews and sandwiches, in combination with other vegetables and foodstuffs or by itself. Its history is as varied as its actions, uses and layers, with tears and weather prediction, omnipresence and local productions, facts and beliefs. | Read more...

About the Project
Herbs in History is made possible by funding from the AHPA-ERB Foundation, as part of the nonprofit foundation's mission promote education and research on medicinal, therapeutic, and health-promoting herbs. Tune in monthly for thoughtfully detailed historical accounts of herbs you know and love, and learn more about the origins of medicinal plants that have stood the test of time.