Chances are pretty good that if you have a spice rack (or even a “spice corner” in your cabinet) that oregano is in it. That’s because this common herb goes well with just about anything, from pizza sauce to scrambled eggs.
Especially popular in Mediterranean cooking, oregano is a flowering plant and perennial herb. The herb belongs to the mint family and its name comes from the Greek words meaning mountain (oros) and joy (ganos).
Oregano can be found in fresh, dried, or oil form. While it certainly brings joy to the kitchen, this herb is also known for having alleged medicinal properties. Although there’s no scientific evidence to support those claims, the antioxidant-rich herb is safe to consume and not without benefits.
Let’s check out all the awesome things oregano tea is good for.
An herb by many names
Oregano can go by a few different names, including Spanish thyme and wild marjoram. Common varieties of oregano include Greek oregano, Italian oregano, golden oregano, and Mexican oregano.
Oregano has been used medicinally for a long time. We’re talking all the way back to ancient Roman and Greek empires. And it still is today.
Used both topically and orally, oregano and oregano tea are traditionally used as an antiseptic and to treat or improve the following ailments:
Although many swear by oregano tea for some of the benefits noted above, there aren’t actually any human scientific studies to back those claims.
But does that mean it’s all a bunch of hogwash? Not quite.
Oregano is packed with antioxidants and antibacterial properties. So it makes sense that free radical-fighting, antimicrobial, and antiviral oregano does have benefits that may support skin, inflammation, and overall health.
While there’s no harm in giving oregano tea a try, if you’re looking for a specific relief or treatment you’ll probably want to reach for something more credible.
OK, so like we just said, there isn’t research on the specific benefits of oregano. However, there’s load of research on the specific nutrients and compounds found in oregano.
For example, certain antioxidants found in the herb are believed to positively affect the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems. They may also be able to relieve symptoms of inflammation and reduce blood sugar.
Antioxidants, antioxidants, antioxidants!
One of the most convincing reasons to add oregano to your life is that it contains tons of antioxidants. One study found that oregano had the highest total antioxidant capacity compared with five other herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, and sweet basil).
What to antioxidants do anyway? They fight against cell damage by stabilizing free radical molecules. Eating an antioxidant-rich diet is believed to help prevent and fight off cancer, protect and repair our skin, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and more.
It’s also anti-inflammatory
The antioxidants found in oregano not only stabilize free radicals, but can also reduce inflammation. Particularly, oregano oil’s flavonoid and phenolic compounds are believed to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Again, human research is lacking, but several animal studies have also linked oregano to reduced inflammation.
Let’s remember that inflammation is a normal response in the human body to healing (think injury or illness). However, chronic inflammation is a real pain — and following an anti-inflammatory diet can certainly help.
Plus, it’s antimicrobial and antibacterial!
Who knew oregano could be such a fighter of the cooties?
Studies have shown that oregano oil has antiviral activity that can protect against both human and animal viruses. This is thanks to its main compound carvacrol.
Impressively, studies show oregano oil can fight the human norovirus infection and 90 percent of the herpes simplex virus in just 1 hour. Additionally, oregano essential oil can be beneficial in fighting many different species of bacteria and takes credit as one of the most powerful essential oils to do so.
Oregano tea has been tied to weight loss — but, there’s no clear evidence that it works, when it comes to humans, at least.
Studies did show that the carvacrol found in oregano can reverse the effects of a high fat diet in mice. Carvacrol is believed to affect the genes that control fat synthesis, but more research is needed.
If you’re curious about oregano tea, you can take comfort in knowing that it’s safe for most people to give it a try.
As is the case for virtually everything, it’s best not to overdo it. There isn’t any research on exactly how much oregano tea causes an upset stomach so listen to your tummy. Cut back if it starts to cause discomfort.
According to the NIH, you should steer clear of oregano if you:
- have an allergy to oregano or the Lamiaceae family, which includes basil, mint, sage, and lavender
- have a bleeding disorder or are 2 weeks before surgery, as oregano may increase bleeding
- have diabetes, as oregano might lower blood sugar levels
- are taking the medication Lithium
You can easily whip up oregano tea at home using this simple recipe:
If you’re using dried oregano, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and pour over 2 teaspoons of dried oregano. Steep for 3 minutes, then strain.
If you’re using fresh oregano, use the same process above with 1 medium sprig of fresh oregano.
Sweeten to taste with honey or sweetener of choice (optional).
Now that you know the benefits of oregano tea (and have a recipe), all that’s left to do is get steeping. But remember that there’s not much in terms of scientific evidence or human research that oregano tea is a cure-all. (But what is, right?)
If nothing else, sipping oregano tea will provide a healthy dose of antioxidants, and making it takes just a few minutes. Looking for other ways to incorporate herbs into your daily routine and your kitchen? Check out our crash course on fresh herbs.