Oregano is a popular herb, as it is used quite frequently in culinary dishes. Oregano tea is prepared using the same oregano herb that you probably have in your kitchen, but unlike other herbs, this is bitter and consumed more for its health benefits than for taste and flavor. But before you try your hand in brewing a nice cup of this tea, here are some of the science-backed health benefits and some of the myths.
7 Proven Health Benefits of Oregano Tea
1. It’s an Excellent Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Oregano leaves are rich in flavonoids and phenolic compounds and are, therefore, excellent antioxidants Antioxidants are essential to neutralize the harmful free-radicals that cause inflammation in our body.
In addition to that, it also reduces cancer signaling processes, as it exhibits an anti-cancerous effect.
2. Oregano Tea Is Great for Diabetics
Attributed to carvacrol again, oregano has an anti-diabetic effect and is proven to reduce blood glucose levels.
In type 2 diabetes, there is either or both insulin resistance and a reduced number of cells that produce insulin. Either can lead to reduced levels of insulin in the system. Studies have found that oregano not only reduces blood sugar levels, but they also prevent the death of the cells that produce insulin. This suggests that it might be helpful for type 2 diabetics in the long run, as most type 2 diabetics lose a significant number of insulin-producing cells over time.
Not only that, but studies also suggest that oregano is effective in reducing the lipid levels (dyslipidemia), as well as normalizes microscopic changes in liver and kidney (a common occurrence) in type 2 diabetic patients.
And it doesn’t end there, oregano might also help prevents diabetes. With all that said, it does seem like a good idea to add oregano in your diet, as most people living in the 21st century are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to the unhealthy diet we typically indulge.
3. It Has Antibacterial and Antiviral 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 as it noted an improvement in sore throat, hoarseness, and cough in the participants.
It also improves gastrointestinal health by reducing inflammation in the gut.
And lastly, it also helps in better wound-healing by preventing and/or killing the infection in the wounds.
4. It Might Help With Depression
Along with the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, the 21st century has also witnessed the epidemic of depression.
If you suffer from depression, oregano tea might help you there too. Components present in oregano like thymol, carvacrol, borneol, gamma-terpinene, etc, have shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms and exhibiting positive behavioral effects.
They do that by increasing the level of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, preventing it degradation in our system. Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. This effect may not work for everyone, but it's worth a try.
5. It’s Great for Your Memory and Concentration
Not only is oregano effective in depression, but it's great for your overall brain's health.
Studies suggest that oregano extract helps improve memory, focus, concentration, and helps to keep the mind calm. So, it may even be beneficial for anxiety.
Regular consumption of oregano might not only be neuro-protective but might also help us have better brain health in older ages. As most neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and dementia result from oxidative stress caused by the free-radicals, oregano being a good antioxidant helps neutralize these free-radicals.
6. It Is Good For The Gut
Oregano has shown to improve gut health by improving the intestinal barrier. A disrupted intestinal is usually seen in conditions like Crohn’s disease, food allergies, acute pancreatitis, etc.
A break in the intestinal barrier is caused by an imbalance in bacterial load which leads to inflammation, which in turn breaks down intestinal lining and causes the gut to “leak”.
Oregano helps to reduce this bacterial imbalance, reduces inflammation, and improves immunity.
It is also protective against certain intestinal parasites.
7. It Might Relieve Pain
Oregano has analgesic properties as well.
It has been found to be a good analgesic in rats for acute pain. The analesic properties of oregano is attributed to its component, carvacrol.
Oregano may not be as strong as aspirin or morphine, but it might help you with mild pain.
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 so far.
Dried Oregano, Oregano Oil and Oregano Extract: What’s The Difference?
Dried oregano is what the name suggest, it’s dried oregano leaves. This is what is commonly used in kitchen and to prepare oregano tea.
Oregano oil is an oil which is infused with oregano. Mostly it’s an olive oil. It’s usually available for oral consumption in the form of capsules and softgels. It is also available in oil form.
But do not confuse oregano oil with oregano essential oil. Essential oils are extremely concentrated oils that is 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.
So, Can You Use Oregano Oil Or Extract To Make Your Oregano Tea?
Essential oil should not be consumed orally as they are concentrated and therefore can damage the mucosa. 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. However, they are mostly used for topical application or in the form of capsules. Always read the label to find out whether the oil or/and extract is suitable for oral consumption or not. However, since both oil and extract are oils and solutions infused with oregano, they are likely to be quite diluted. So, directly infusing your tea with oregano leaves would be superior. Plus the extract and oils may contain additional oils and chemicals that the company may use while production.
So, 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 some side-effects.
- Too much consumption of oregano can upset your stomach causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Oregano belongs to the mint family of herbs, and if you are allergic to any member of Labiatae family (mint, sage, lavender, etc), it's possible that you may be allergic to oregano as well. They seem to cause cross-sensitivity. Be cautious.
- No studies in humans have been conducted regarding their interaction during pregnancy. Although, one study on pigs suggests that oregano reduces the oxidative stress that occurs during the late pregnancy and lactation.
- Be cautious of your blood sugar levels if you plan to use oregano tea along with insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs. Hypoglycemia caused by the combined effect of medications and oregano should be monitored by your doctor
How to Prepare Oregano Tea
You can get ready-made oregano tea bags. All you have to do is steep it in boiled water.
But you can also prepare oregano tea at home using separate tea bags or loose tea and or dried oregano.
Boil water, and add 1-2 teaspoons of dried oregano and steep it in the water along with tea. You can similarly steep fresh oregano if you have those instead.
Oregano tea can be a bit bitter or pungent. If you don't like that, you can always add some honey and lemon in it 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 is a great herb! It's quite safe, has amazing health benefits and so easy to prepare at home.
If you suffer from depression, this might be the tea for you. It's great for diabetics, your brain's health, and even for your common cold.