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If You’ve Never Tried Oregano Tea, You’re Missing Out on a Slew of Health Benefits

The brew is packed with compounds that fend off sickness, fight inflammation and more!

The oregano in your spice rack is a mainstay in many Mediterranean and Italian recipes. Indeed, the mildly sweet and peppery herb can dress up almost any dish, from pizza and salad to omelets and pasta, but it can also be brewed into a delightful, health-promoting tea. Here, we take a closer look at the benefits of oregano tea and explain how to incorporate it into your diet.

What is oregano tea?

Oregano tea is an herbal drink containing dried or fresh oregano leaves. “Sometimes it’s just the leaves, but some blends also include additional ingredients, like lemon, ginger and other herbs,” says Sophia Deah, MS, RD, a functional medicine dietitian. It’s nothing new: People have been consuming oregano tea for thousands of years. It goes by many names, such as  Za’tar Chai and wild hyssop, and is used in cultures worldwide to promote well-being.

5 health benefits of oregano tea

This healing herb has several scientifically backed benefits and you can get a healthy dose in a single cup of oregano tea. Read on for the feel-great benefits:

1) Oregano tea may reduce inflammation

“Oregano is known to have anti-inflammatory components, so it’s a good addition to any anti-inflammatory diet,” explains naturopathic physician Amy Rothenberg, ND, author of The A Capella Singer Who Lost Her Voice & Other Stories From Natural Medicine. What’s more, adds Deahl, “Oregano contains phytochemicals, which are compounds that help fight inflammation.” That’s impressive, as reducing inflammation has been linked to everything from weight loss to pain relief, improved mental health, heart health and more.

More specifically, oregano contains carvacrol, a chemical that gives oregano its unique scent and flavor and has been shown to reduce swelling and pain.

One scientific review, published in the journal Molecules, examined oregano’s beneficial effects on health. The study authors concluded that oregano-based compounds could provide a novel treatment approach for several inflammation-related diseases, including arthritis, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Another, published in the journal Food Science & Nutrition, found that carvacrol offers lots of potential as an anti-inflammatory. Even though the science was conducted on animal models, researchers say these benefits could translate to humans.

Related: Maqui Berry Extract Is a “Million Times More Powerful Than Taking Vitamin C” Says Top Inflammation Expert

2) Oregano tea fights disease

Antioxidants are natural compounds found in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and herbs. They help track down and destroy free radicals, the molecules responsible for disease. Though many herbs and spices contain antioxidants, studies show that oregano and oregano oil are particularly antioxidant-dense.

One, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry evaluated the antioxidant content of 39 commonly used herbs and spices. The authors concluded that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants, and therefore could be very beneficial in preventing chronic disease. Another study, conducted by Russian scientists, found that oregano oil inhibited oxidation. In less scientific terms: it slowed the cell damage caused by free radicals.

3) Oregano tea heals the gut

Oregano’s carvacrol and thymol (another plant compound found in oregano tea) are known for their antimicrobial properties, says Deahl. More specifically, “these compounds can help combat harmful bacteria overgrowth that can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut,” she explains. Since about 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, Deahl says a healthy microbiota balance is crucial.

And an animal study published in Frontiers in Immunology found that sheep fed an oregano oil-supplemented diet had higher counts of beneficial gut bacteria, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, compared to sheep that didn’t.

That’s significant because Deahl says these probiotic bacteria “play a crucial role in maintaining gut health by aiding digestion, strengthening the immune system and producing essential nutrients.” Considering that oregano tea also contains oregano oil, it’s safe to assume the benefits observed in the study may translate to humans. (Learn why drinking water is vital for good health, too.)

Muts-read: This SIBO Yogurt May Be the Delicious Cure For Bloating, Blue Moods and GI Discomfort You’ve Been Waiting For

4) Oregano tea may bolster your immune system

benefits of oregano tea: Caucasian woman smelling cup of tea
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty

Another potential benefit of oregano tea? Enhanced immunity! Once again, these effects can be attributed to the thymol and carvacrol in oregano. Research is limited, but several studies have confirmed oregano’s immune-boosting effects.

One, published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, found that oregano oil helped reduce the spread of certain viruses in a lab setting. Another, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, concluded that applying an oregano-infused ointment to healing surgical wounds decreased the amount of harmful bacteria and reduced the risk of infection. 

Related: Hugs Have Been Study-Proven To Boost Immunity & Dramatically Lower Stress But Only If They Last *This* Long

5) Oregano tea may help protect against cancer

Certain cancers, like breast, lung and colorectal cancer, are particularly common in women. Here, too, drinking oregano tea may provide some benefit. In fact, several test tube studies illustrate the herb’s ability to stop cancerous cells from spreading.

One, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, found that oregano extract stopped the growth of colon cancer cells and helped kill them off. Another, published in Anticancer Drugs, concluded that carvacrol (the compound we’ve mentioned several times) slowed the growth and spread of colon cancer cells.

More research is needed to make official conclusions, but one thing is certain: Oregano tea contains powerful healing and protective properties.

How to make oregano tea

Want to reap these potential benefits at home? Here’s how to brew a cuppa.

What you’ll need: dried oregano, a sprig of fresh oregano or oregano tea bags; a tea strainer; and one cup of boiling water.

To do: Dr. Rothenberg offers up this easy recipe: Measure 2 teaspoons of dried oregano into a tea strainer or place a sprig of fresh oregano in a tea cup. Then, boil 1 cup of water and pour it over the dry or fresh oregano. Let the water steep for 3 to 5 minutes and remove the plant matter. Add honey, cinnamon or another sweetener for taste, and then drink. 

Prefer storebought tea? Simply pour the boiling water over one or two oregano tea bags and let them steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and drink. A brand to try: Buddha Teas, Organic Oregano Tea ($11.99 for 18 tea bags on Amazon).

How much oregano tea to drink

benefits of oregano tea: Hands of an unrecognizable woman pouring hot water into a cup to make a cup of tea.

Oregano tea can be a tasty addition to your morning routine, but you don’t want to overdo it. “Some people get an upset stomach if they drink too much,” Dr. Rothenberg says. “1 to 2 cups a day should be plenty.”

Who should avoid oregano tea?

Oregano tea is like other herbal teas in that it presents few risks. However, it isn’t for everyone. “You should sidestep oregano tea if you have an allergy to oregano or any of the other plants in the Lamiaceae family, including basil, mint, sage and lavender,” Dr. Rothenberg says. “Also, avoid it if you have any type of bleeding disorder or are two weeks before or after surgery, as oregano may increase bleeding. Don’t use oregano tea if you take the medication lithium.”

Deahl recommends consulting with your healthcare provider before consuming oregano tea, especially if you’re on medications or have certain health conditions. Your doctor can determine if oregano tea is right for you and make personalized recommendations.

Other ways to reap the health benefits of oregano

Not a tea drinker? No problem! Adding oregano to your meals can harness similar health benefits, says Deahl, who notes: “Dried oregano tends to have more nutrients than fresh oregano, however, it depends on how it’s processed. I recommend using both dried and fresh oregano in your cooking. I like to use oregano in tomato sauces, Greek salads and on top of pizzas.” Try it in this delicious lemon-oregano roast chicken recipe!

To learn more about the benefits of herbal teas, read:

These Teas End Bloating Fast –– Learn How to Blend Them to Boost the Benefits

The Best Tea for a Sore Throat? Docs Reveal Their Top 6 Picks that Soothe Fast

Mullein Tea is a Little-Known Brew That May Be the Best Remedy for Colds, Flu & More

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