Oregano is a popular herb, and is used quite frequently in culinary dishes. A common way to use oregano is to use it fresh or dried. Extracts and essential oils are also available for purchase. Another less common way is to consume oregano as tea.
Oregano tea is prepared using the same herb that you may have in your kitchen. Unlike other herbal teas that are sweet or spiced, this tea is bitter, and is consumed more for its health benefits rather than taste and flavor. But, before you try your hand in brewing a cup of this tea, here are some of the science-backed health benefits and some of the myths surrounding the consumption of oregano tea.
7 Proven Health Benefits Of Oregano Tea
1. It is an Excellent Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Oregano leaves are rich in flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which are important antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to neutralize harmful free-radicals that cause inflammation and diseases in our body.
The anti-inflammatory effect of oregano is due to the specific components called thymol and carvacrol. Studies suggest that they reduce inflammation by inhibiting the biochemical pathways that initiate the body’s inflammatory response.
In addition to anti-inflammatory actions, oregano essential oil also reduces cancer signaling processes, as it exhibits an anticancer effect when combined with human skin cells.
2. It is Great For Diabetics
Carvacrol, a component in oregano, has an anti-diabetic effect and is proven to reduce blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to control blood sugar, and/or doesn’t respond to insulin the way it should (insulin resistance). A person could have one or both of those symptoms, and the resulting increased blood sugar can not only lead to kidney problems, but heart problems, and a myriad of other diseases.
Medications, exercise, and diet modification have traditionally been used to control Type 2 diabetes. However, promising studies suggest that blood sugar can be controlled naturally. Studies have found that oregano not only reduces blood sugar levels, but also prevents the death of the cells that produce insulin; these are beta-cells, and are located in the pancreas. In addition to controlling blood sugar.
Additionally, studies also suggest that oregano is effective in reducing lipid levels (dyslipidemia), as well as normalizing microscopic changes in the liver and kidneys (a common occurrence) in type 2 diabetic patients.
And the benefits don’t end there. Oregano might also help prevent diabetes by promoting pancreas health. With all that said, it would appear that oregano can not help reduce the progression of diabetes but the severity of the disease as well.
3. It has Antibacterial and Anti Viral Action
Oregano is proven to have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral effects; as suggested by various studies.
A 2010 study shows that oregano is effective against upper respiratory tract infections (URI) as it noted an improvement in sore throat, hoarseness, and cough in the participants. Compounds in oregano also promoted bronchodilation, or relaxation of the trachea, which can help to reduce symptoms of URIs and speed healing.
Oregano has been shown to improve gastrointestinal health by reducing inflammation in the gut, preventing colonic damage in patients with acute or chronic colitis.
It doesn't stop there, oregano has been shown to promote wound-healing by preventing and/or killing bacteria that cause infections, including drug-resistant bacteria.
4. It Might Help With Depression
Depression is quickly becoming one of the most costly diseases among the US population, with over 16 million adults experiencing one or more episodes of depression in 2015. It cost the US over $2 billion in treatment in 2010, and the numbers have likely grown in recent years.
If you suffer from depression, oregano tea might help with symptoms. Components present in oregano like thymol, carvacrol, borneol, and gamma-terpinene, have been shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms and exhibit positive behavioral effects.
These compounds work by increasing the level of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, preventing its degradation in the body. Although this effect may not work for everyone, it's worth a try. However, if you are on medication for depression, it’s important to consult your medical provider before stopping any medication regimen.
5. It Improves Memory and Concentration
Studies suggest that oregano extract helps improve memory, focus, concentration, and helps to keep the mind calm. This means that it may even be beneficial for anxiety.
Regular consumption of oregano is not only neuro-protective, but might also help us have better brain health as we age. This is plausible because neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and dementia can result from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, so consuming a compound rich in antioxidants like oregano might be an effective supplemental treatment.
6. It is Good For The Gut
Oregano has been shown to improve gut health by improving the intestinal barrier. A disrupted intestine is usually seen in inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, food allergies, acute pancreatitis, and acute or chronic colitis.
A break in the intestinal barrier is caused by an imbalance in bacterial load which leads to inflammation,and in turn breaks down intestinal lining and causes the gut to “leak”. It’s important to know that the gut is supposed to have some degree of permeability, because this is how the body metabolizes nutrients from food. But increased gut permeability may cause diseases and inflammation, and can be difficult to treat.
7. It Might Help Relieve Pain
Oregano has been demonstrated as an analgesic in rats for acute pain. The analgesic properties of oregano is attributed to its component, carvacrol.
While oregano may not be as strong as aspirin or morphine, it might prove useful for mild pain.
Dried Oregano, Oregano Oil & Oregano Extract: What's The Difference?
Dried oregano is simply dried oregano leaves. This is what is commonly used in the kitchen and to prepare oregano tea. Removing the leaves from the stems is ideal, as the stems are usually not as tasty.
Oregano oil is an oil which is infused with oregano. The most common “Carrier oil” is olive oil. It’s usually available for oral consumption in the form of capsules and softgels, but is also available in oil form.
Do not confuse oregano oil with oregano essential oil. Essential oils are extremely concentrated oils that are extracted from the plant using steam distillation. Essential oils are usually not suitable for oral consumption, as they are very concentrated and can burn your oral and GI lining. They are used for aromatherapy and topical application (only after dilution).
Oregano extract, on the other hand, is oregano infused in a solution, which can be water, alcohol, or oil.
Can You Use Oregano Oil OR Extract To Make Your Oregano Tea?
Essential oils should not be consumed orally, as they are concentrated and can damage the mucosal lining of the esophagus, stomach, and gut. Commercially, they are not produced for the purpose of oral consumption. So, they shouldn’t be considered to prepare your tea.
As for the oregano extract and oils, there are no set rules. They are however mostly used for topical application or in the form of capsules for ingestion. Always read the label to find out whether the oil and/or extract is suitable for oral consumption. Since both oil and extract are oils and solutions infused with oregano, they are likely diluted. Directly infusing your tea with oregano leaves would be better to reap the rewards.
Additionally, the extract and oils contain additional oils and chemicals that will most likely not mix well with hot water.
The best way to prepare a healthy, fresh oregano tea is by using dried or fresh oregano leaves; the same ones you use in cooking.
Side- Effects Of Oregano Tea
Oregano is a very safe herb to use. But, certain people may experience side effects.
- Excessive consumption of oregano can upset your stomach causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Oregano belongs to the mint family of herbs, so if you are allergic or intolerant to any member of the Labiatae family (mint, sage, lavender, etc), it's possible that you may be sensitive to oregano as well. Be cautious, as they seem to cause cross-sensitivity.
- Be cautious of your blood sugar levels if you plan to use oregano tea along with insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs, as it may promote a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia caused by the combined effect of medications and oregano should be monitored by your doctor
How To Prepare Oregano Tea
You can purchase ready-made oregano tea bags. All you have to do is steep in hot water for a few minutes and then consume.
But, you can also prepare oregano tea at home using dried or fresh oregano, especially if you have some growing in your garden. In this case,simply bring water to a simmer and add 1-2 teaspoons of oregano. Let this sit for a few minutes to draw out the essence before drinking.
Oregano tea can be a bit bitter or pungent. If you don't like that, you can add some honey and lemon to improve the taste. You can also add other herbs or edible flowers, if you like to further enhance the flavor of your brew.
Oregano has been used traditionally for many other conditions like acne, cramps, warts, ringworm, indigestion, rosacea, psoriasis etc. But there are no scientific studies backing these claims. However, research does show that this might be a great, natural tea that can be added to the diet to promote overall health, especially in regards to reducing blood sugar and inflammation.
So if you are looking for a change, give it a try as it is quite safe, has amazing health benefits and is easy to prepare at home.