According to A survey on the aromatic plants of Libya, Origanum Cyrenaicum Beg . & vacc are one of the medicinal plant species that grow in the green mountain region of Libya which contributes to about 50% of the total plants in the country. They are aromatic in their chemical constitution and locally used in traditional medicine to treat diseases, perfumery and cosmetics.
The Origanum species are perennial herbs which may also be called sub shrubs with many ascending stems , sessile or petiolate like leaves and flowers in loose spikes which are arranged in a paniculate all over the world giving the vernacular name ’Oregano’. According to recent studies, oregano is used traditionally in many ways because their essential oils have antimicrobial, cytotoxic and antioxidant activity, Elabbar et al, 2014.
The genus Origanum is medically an important antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antithrombin, antimutagenic, angiogenic, antiparasitic and antihyperglycemic activities. Therefore it is a multipurpose medicinal pant. It is also found in the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Asia.
It is a multipurpose medicinal pant used in the treatment of several disease conditions. Externally: inhale crushed leaves during flu to facilitate breathing. Also for ear congestion. Internally: Expectorant, carminative, stomachic and for menstrual cramps. And also against dysentery.
They are used as dietary supplements for promoting good health and preventing diseases. Are also used as preservatives for foods. The extracts can also be used in several industrial such as prevention of metal corrosion and rubber vulgarization.
According to Coa (2013), several investigations have been carried out on the flavonoid constituent of many medicinal plants and their effect on cancer cells, for example the litchleaf used by the traditional Chinese in medicine. It was found that in one structure of the plant part, for example the seed, there are various compounds such as anthocyanins, flavones, flavonols and chalcones among others. Another study identified that flavonoid from the fern species have an effect on human lung cancer cells. According to Coa (2013), it was found that flavonoids had high free radical scavenging activity which enabled them to have cytotoxicity effect on the cancer cells.
Bioflavonoids are polyphenolic group of compounds found in the plant kingdom. About 3000 types of flavonoids are known with many having low toxicity in mammals and some used in medicine. They are classified basing on their biological effects such as; anti-inflammatory, antihepatotoxic, anti-ulcer actions 3, 4, enzyme inhibitors like aldose reductase and xanthine oxidase, antioxidants, antiallergic, antiviral, and anticancer among others. According to Coa (2013), Flavonoids are medicinal plant components which belong to the polyphenolic compounds and form a large family of secondary metabolites of the medicinal plants with almost 10,000 known structures
These are substances that in small quantities can prevent or reduce the process of oxidation such as fats in foods. When present in small quantities they can importantly delay or prevent oxidation of substrates. They can also be defined as substances which can trap harmful forms of oxygen to prevent the damaging of cells.
Antioxidants are classified into natural and synthetic. They are used as an ingredient in dietary supplement for promoting good health and preventing diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease. They are also used as preservatives for foods. This is aimed at increasing the life of foods. This is done by combining antioxidants with foods which have high unsaturated fat which later prevent the onset of rancidity. Rancidity is a process by which the unsaturated fats break down and produce a rancid-like smell. An example if an antioxidant is vitamin E.
The anti-oxidation process occurs through the formation of free radicals.
A brief description of some of the aromatic compound as food and medicine items has been presented. So common are these compounds in our life that it will be a very long paper describing all of these. However, it is undisputed fact that without aromatic compounds we can not imagine a healthy and enjoying life.