Medicinal Uses, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacology of Origanum onites (L.): A Review

Chem Biodivers. 2016 May;13(5):504-20. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.201500069.


Origanum onites L., known as Turkish oregano, has great traditional, medicinal, preservative, and commercial importance. It is used for the treatment of several kinds of ailments, such as gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, high cholesterol, leukemia, bronchitis, etc. In this review, traditional use, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of O. onites reported between 1988 and 2014 were discussed. This review was prepared based on literature survey on scientific journals and books from libraries and electronic sources, such as Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, etc. All databases were searched up to June 2014. Several different classes of terpenoids, triterpene acids, phenolic acids, hydroquinones, flavonoids, hydrocarbons, sterols, pigments, fatty acids, tocopherols, and inorganic compounds were detected mainly in the aerial parts of this plant. Pharmacological studies revealed that extracts obtained from several solvents and individual compounds exhibited antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, insecticidal, anticancer, hepatoprotective, genotoxic, antidiabetic, cholinesterase inhibitory, anti-inflammatory, analgesic activities, etc. O. onites, in general, exhibited remarkable activity potential in almost all test systems. The results of toxicity studies indicated that O. onites did not show any significant toxicity and mutagenicity on Drosophila and Salmonella. Toxicity of the extracts/essential oils and also individual compounds should be evaluated on mammalian cells to ensure their safety. The bioactivity of individual compounds aside from terpenoids should also be assessed in detail. Additionally, mode of action for the bioactive compounds should be evaluated to understand the complex pharmacological effects of these phytochemicals.

Keywords: Biological activity; Carvacrol; Lamiaceae; Origanum onites; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / chemistry
  • Analgesics / isolation & purification
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / isolation & purification
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Insecticides / isolation & purification
  • Insecticides / pharmacology
  • Origanum / chemistry*
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / isolation & purification
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insecticides
  • Phytochemicals