You are probably familiar with oregano, a culinary spice that adds flavor to many traditional Italian dishes. In cooking, the leaves of the Mediterranean oregano plant (Oreganum vulgare) are used either fresh or dried, and you can also brew them to make a tisane (an herbal tea) rich in antioxidants. In addition to its great flavor, oregano leaves contain several medicinally active compounds that have significant health benefits.
Oregano leaves contain more than 40 different compounds, many of which belong to phytonutrient classes called polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, all recognized for their antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals, which can damage cellular components such as membranes and DNA, raising your risk of chronic diseases that include diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
A number of studies suggest that compounds in oregano may help prevent or slow the growth of potentially harmful microorganisms. It is used for respiratory tract disorders such as coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis. It is also used for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as heartburn and bloating. Other uses include treating menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders, headaches, and heart conditions
You can prepare a tisane from either fresh or dried oregano leaves by cutting or bruising the leaves before brewing to release more of the herb’s essential oils into the water. Steep one (1) teaspoon of fresh or dried leaves in six (6) fluid ounces of boiling water for five (5) minutes. If using fresh leaves, be sure to rough chop them prior to steeping. The tisane can be slightly bitter, but adding a half-teaspoon of honey or a sugar substitute can counteract this. The herb is generally considered safe and without any negative side effects.
By ITMA Certified Tea Master Chas Kroll