The oregano tea is prepared with fresh or dried oregano leaves ( Origanum vulgare L ). On a scale that measures the antioxidant potential of plants and foods, dried oregano ranks fifth due to its ability to absorb free radicals.
Among the chemical compounds that give it its characteristic odor are thymol and carvacrol. Pinene, limonene, ocimene and caryophyllene are also present. Thymol improves digestive function and has lethal action against pathogenic microorganisms.
Carvacrol has an important anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. Within the medicinal action of oregano tea we can highlight its anti-analgesic, digestive, antidiabetic, anticatarrhal, vermifuge, antiseptic, carminative, antitussive and bequic, emmenagogue, anti-inflammatory, estrogenic, tonic, antioxidant and expectorant capacities.
It can prevent a number of diseases, including metabolic syndrome and cancer. Before preparing the tea, it is advisable to cut or crush the leaves to help release the compounds into the water.
Oregano leaves contain more than 40 different compounds. Among these are polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins, substances recognized for their antioxidant qualities and antibacterial properties. Different antioxidants benefit different parts of the body.
Source: USDA (2016)
The high antioxidant power of oregano infusions is derived from the high content of polyphenols; namely rosmarinic acid and flavonoids (quercetin, eriocitrine, luteolin).
The human body naturally produces free radicals and antioxidants to lessen those effects that can be harmful. As molecules in the body oxidize, free radicals are created.
Free radicals are unstable chemicals that are formed by various mechanisms: as a by-product of digestion, when there is overexposure to sunlight, and when in contact with environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke.
In most cases the formation of free radicals far exceeds that of natural antioxidants. Although the body has defenses to reduce the impact of free radicals, their excess causes damage to cell structures.
Achieving balance requires a continuous supply of external antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing free radicals from the bloodstream.
The intake of foods rich in antioxidants slows down or even prevents the oxidative process. Molecules with antioxidant characteristics bind to free radicals and potentially reduce molecular damage that can affect DNA over time.
Eating foods containing these types of substances reduces the risk of chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease among other conditions. From this antioxidant potential comes the therapeutic action exerted by the components of oregano against cancer.
Indeed, studies carried out in the laboratory indicate the reduction in the growth of colon cancer cells, and finally their disappearance, when extracts of oregano are applied.
Indicators also improved in laboratory animals with the same condition. These findings, while promising, need confirmation in human clinical studies.
What is it for?
The partial effect on the inhibition of microbial growth – particularly on total coliforms, yeasts and molds – has been studied for the essential oil extracted from oregano. In the case of tea, it has been applied as a facial tonic for oily skin prone to acne.
Much has been written about the vermifuge, antiseptic and antifungal properties of oregano. Most of these studies are confined to laboratory conditions and not clinical trials, and most of them use the essential oil and not the infusion.
A study indicates that oregano infusion, compared to essential oil, may be a cheaper alternative to incorporate in some foods as a natural antimicrobial.
In folk medicine
Dried oregano used as a tea has been used to relieve digestive discomfort, when the infusion is ingested after meals. It has also been used to treat nausea — especially pregnancy sickness — vomiting, and diarrhea.
Oregano tea has been designated as a gastric stimulant and helps prevent and eliminate gas and flatulence. The infusion of oregano improves the inconveniences caused by fluid retention and, therefore, helps in the treatment of abdominal inflammation.
It has been used for the relief of menstrual pain and premenstrual discomfort, also muscle cramps and even seizures. It has been pointed out that it can be stimulating in the process in which estrogens are produced, female hormones that decrease in menopause.
Oregano could contribute to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic people and, in general, oregano tea is useful for diseases of the respiratory system, since it is an antitussive, anti-inflammatory, warlike and antiseptic analgesic.
How to prepare it?
For its preparation fresh or dried oregano leaves are taken. The ratio is roughly like this: 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves (representing 5 to 10 grams) requires a cup of hot water.
The leaves are immersed in this for approximately 5 minutes. If they are fresh leaves, the ratio is 2 to 4 teaspoons per cup. The recommended dose of this tea is up to three times a day.
The drink may be somewhat bitter, but sugar, honey, or sweetener can be added to counteract the bitterness. Optionally you can add a lemon wedge (preferably organic) to increase bioavailability.
Another way to prepare is to bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, the heat is turned off, the oregano leaves are added and left to rest for five minutes. Then it is cooled and drunk warm.
In laboratory studies, tea is prepared by infusing 15 g of the dried herb with 150 ml of distilled water for 30 minutes. The minimum effective dose has not been estimated.
Is it good for menstruation?
Oregano tea is a stimulant of hormonal function, being able to cause menstruation. For pregnant women this can be dangerous, especially in the first and last trimesters of their pregnancy.
Oregano tea in excess can cause some stomach upset, even causing dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and even constipation, although taken in moderation does not pose those risks.
The herb is generally considered safe and no negative side effects have been reported.
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- USDA (2016). National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Spices, oregano, dried. Basic Report 02027. Retrieved on April 8, 2018 at ndb.nal.usda.gov