Oregano: The Robust Herb with a Healing Touch
In the lush embrace of an herb garden, oregano (Origanum vulgare) stands out with its vibrant green leaves and a distinct, pungent aroma. Often associated with Italian cuisine, this hardy perennial transcends the culinary realm, weaving its way into the tapestry of herbal medicine with remarkable benefits, particularly for the immune system.
A Brief History
Oregano’s story begins in the Mediterranean, its native land. The ancients didn’t just sprinkle it on pizza (which, of course, didn’t exist yet); they recognized its medicinal qualities. The Greeks, for instance, used it for treating skin wounds and aches. Fast forward to today, and it’s a global staple, both in kitchens and natural remedy cabinets.
Let’s start with what most know oregano for: its culinary prowess. This herb adds a warm, slightly bitter taste that is almost synonymous with Italian dishes. But it’s not just about flavor; it’s also about health. Fresh or dried, oregano sprinkled in soups, stews, or on pizza contributes beneficial compounds to your diet.
Now, let’s delve into oregano’s impressive health benefits. It’s packed with antioxidants, compounds that fight free radicals in your body, reducing oxidative stress. This aspect is crucial for overall health and particularly beneficial for the immune system.
Another star component in oregano is carvacrol, a phenol that has shown promising antimicrobial properties. This means oregano can help fend off bacteria and viruses, giving your immune system a helpful boost(please see caution below)
Oregano Oil – The Concentrated Elixir
Here’s where it gets even more interesting: oregano oil. This concentrated form of oregano is a powerhouse for the immune system. You can make your own at home. To be clear, this is infused Oregano oil, not Oregano EO.
Despite what the MLM companies tell you, Oregano EO is not safe for ingestion and is absolutely destructive to your digestive system. Remember, we are loving our bodies, trusting the healing process that our bodies already are built to do, and there is no miracle cure for all illness. Please be gentle with yourself.
DIY Oregano Oil Infusion
To make oregano oil at home, you’ll need:
- Fresh oregano leaves
- A carrier oil (like olive or almond oil)
- Begin by gently bruising the oregano leaves to release their oils.
- Fill a jar with these leaves, then pour your carrier oil over them until completely submerged.
- Seal the jar and place it in a sunny spot for about two weeks, shaking it daily.
- After two weeks, strain the oil through a cheesecloth, and voila! Your homemade oregano oil is ready.
Using Oregano Oil
A word of caution: oregano oil is potent. It’s best used diluted (the above oil infusion.) For immune support, a couple of drops can be added to a teaspoon of honey. It’s known to be particularly helpful at the onset of a cold or flu.
People who are allergic to plants in the Lamiaceae family should not use oregano oil. This family of plants include basil, lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.
More reasons to consider the safety of oregano oil include people on blood thinners, waiting for surgery, people taking Lithium, and it may lower blood sugar as well. Ingesting oregano oil should be approached with caution. It is not the first thing I would reach for, but it does have its place. As a skin topical, however, I would not hesitate to try it.
Growing oregano is a rewarding endeavor. It thrives in well-drained soil and plenty of suns. Oregano is also a perfect candidate for container gardening, making it accessible even if you’re short on space.
Oregano, in its humble green leaves, holds a world of flavor and health benefits. Whether it’s jazzing up a pasta dish or steeped in an oil infusion to boost your immune system, it’s a testament to the power of herbs in our lives. Next time you pass by this herb, whether in your garden or kitchen, give it a nod of appreciation for its robust versatility and healing touch.