Friday, January 11, 2013

Medicine Chest ~ Oregano

Oregano is usually thought of as a culinary herb, but it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
Try a Tea made with Oregano for indigestion, bloating, flatulence, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, headaches, swollen glands, and to promote menstruation.
It has also been used in the past to relieve fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice.
Unsweetened tea can be used as a gargle or mouthwash.
Alternatively, the leaves can be dried, pulverized, and made into capsule form for when it is inconvenient to make a tea.
Externally, Oregano leaves can be pounded into a paste (add small amounts of hot water or tea to reach the desired consistency - oatmeal may also be added for consistency purposes).
This paste can then be used for pain from rheumatism, swelling, itching, aching muscles, and sores.
For tired joints and muscles, put a handful of Oregano leaves in a coffee filter, mesh bag, or cheesecloth bag and run steaming bath water over it. Allow it to steep in the tub with you as you relax in the warm, fragrant water.
Lastly, an Oil can be made with Oregano leaves to use for toothache pain. Put a few drops on the affected tooth for relief.

Antioxidant Properties of Oregano

Oregano contains thymol and rosmarinic acid that work on the body to minimize the destructive effects of free radicals. According to researchers at the USDA's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland, a tablespoon of fresh oregano contains as much antioxidant power as a medium sized apple.There is a lot of current medical interest in the ability of free radicals to help repair damage to the body on a cellular level and combat cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, macular degeneration and help slow geriatric muscle deterioration.

Anti-Fungal Properties of Oregano

Historically used as a food preservative, oregano has some impressive credentials as an anti-fungal. Fungal infections can be nasty customers and even fatal in some circumstances. Oregano has been used as both an internal and external preparation in treating fungal infections and has been tested successfully in inhibiting the growth of yeasts like Candida albicans.

Antibiotic Properties of Oregano

Oregano might just be the little herb that can. A phenol in oregano, carvacrol is generating interest for its powerful ability to kill bacteria. Preliminary tests conducted at Georgetown University suggest that oregano's antibacterial muscle may rival that of streptomycin and penicillin.

Other Medicinal Uses of Oregano

If you plan on keeping oregano in your medicine cabinet, there are some other uses for this herb that you should know about. Oregano can be used as a digestive aid because it encourages salivation. It can soothe bee stings and treat venomous spider and snakebites. Oregano is also an efficient pain reliever.

Cautions when Using Oregano

Although herbs and spices may appear benign because they are used in cooking, concentrated doses can lead to problems. Oregano has many medicinal applications that can help you get and stay well, but consult your doctor before making any changes or additions to the medications you are taking. Oregano can cause skin irritations in some people, and should be avoided if you are pregnant or nursing.
Oil of Oregano

Oregano Fast Facts

  • Oregano contains: iron, vitamin E, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.
  • A native to the Mediterranean, Oregano is a perennial in the mint family. It is widely used as a seasoning in Italian dishes, including pizza sauce.
  • Steep two tablespoons of fresh oregano in eight ounces of water for five minutes to create a refreshing antioxidant tea.
  • Oregano is sometimes taken as a supplement to help avoid colds and flu.
  • Oregano can be used to treat head lice.
  • Oregano is a welcome addition to a long list of antioxidant rich herbs like garlic, thyme, peppermint and sage.
To derive the maximum benefit from supplements, use them within the first six months of purchase or less. Store supplements in a cool, dark place, and keep them away from moisture.

People have used herbal teas for centuries. Not all herbs are suitable for making tea, so become informed on each particular herb before ingesting a tea made from it.

The steps involved in making both enjoyable beverages and medicinal teas are pretty much the same. The major difference is that when making medicinal teas, more attention should be paid to covering the water pot as much as possible to entrap the beneficial properties of the herb. While the aroma of the tea is part of the enjoyment for making beverages, there should be no aroma when making teas for medicinal uses.

Having said that, making a pot of herbal tea is actually an easy, enjoyable thing to do. Bring cool water to a boil, and then rinse a non-metal container with some of the water. Metal containers can interfere with the purity of the tea. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh, or 1 tablespoon of dried herb (or crushed seed) to the pot for each cup of water, plus an extra 2 tablespoons of fresh or 1 tablespoon of dried "for the pot." (For iced tea, increase to 3 tablespoons of fresh and 2 tablespoons of dried herb to allow for watering down by melting ice).

Therefore, if making 2 cups of hot tea, you would use 6 tablespoons of fresh herb or 3 tablespoons of dried.

Put the herbs in the non-metal pot, and pour the boiling water over the herbs. Let them steep, covered, for about 5 minutes. This is not an exact time, and you should check at varying intervals to find the right strength for your purposes. Strain the herbs out of the water when the desired strength is reached. Garnish with herb sprigs, honey, or citrus fruits.

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