Dittany of Crete: a botanical and ethnopharmacological review

J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Sep 15;131(2):229-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.06.005. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


Origanum dictamnus (Lamiaceae family), an endemic plant of the Greek island of Crete, is widely used as a traditional medicine since antiquity, all over Europe. The aim of the present review is to present comprehensive information of the plant's botanical taxonomy and morphology, as well as of the chemical constituents, biological and pharmacological research on O. dictamnus, which will be presented and critically evaluated. The paper also highlights particularly interesting aspects and common medicinal uses not previously described in the specific ethnobotanical literature. An increasing number of chemical and pharmacological studies have been reported recently, some of which strongly support its traditional medicinal uses against various illnesses such as sore throat, cough and gastric ulcer. A variety of compounds, including flavonoids, lipids and terpenoids (mainly carvacrol and thymol) have been identified from the plant. Current studies have showed that the extracts, the essential oil, as well as their active principles possess several pharmacological properties, like antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-ulcer ones. The recent scientific data and the rich historical evidence of its medicinal uses could support further research as well as its use as a safe herbal medicinal product.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Greece
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional / history
  • Origanum* / chemistry
  • Origanum* / classification
  • Plant Extracts* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts* / therapeutic use


  • Plant Extracts