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Oregano is an herb that’s commonly used in cooking, especially in Mediterranean and Italian dishes. You can also brew oregano tea for drinking.

Oregano comes from the same plant family as mint. It goes by several other names including:

  • European oregano
  • Greek oregano
  • Spanish thyme
  • wild marjoram
  • winter marjoram.

Oregano has a peppery, slightly bitter taste. This makes for a distinctly flavored tea. But people tend to drink oregano tea more for its potential health benefits than its flavor.

Traditionally, people have used oregano tea to soothe a variety of health issues, including:

Due to its potential diuretic properties, oregano has also been used to ease bloating and edema.

While oregano tea has a rich history that’s full of purported health benefits, there aren’t many human studies to back up those benefits. Existing research mostly involves laboratory samples (not humans) and oregano extracts, rather than oregano tea.

Still, these laboratory studies do suggest that oregano has some serious health benefits. Many of these benefits are linked to chemicals called flavonoids and phenolic acids. Oregano is rich in both of these.

Antioxidant effects

More human studies need to be performed to fully understand the impact of oregano on human health. However, many in vitro studies have shown that oregano may block the harmful effects of substances in your body called free radicals. These substances cause oxidative stress to your body.

According to the National Cancer Institute, oxidative stress can lead to cell damage and increase your risk of certain diseases. The antioxidant effects of oregano may reduce accumulation of these free radicals and improve health.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Oregano’s flavonoid and phenolic compounds may decrease inflammation in the body. Consuming it may help with certain inflammatory conditions, such as muscle or joint pain, skin irritation, or dry coughs.

Antibacterial and antiviral effects

Oils in oregano can also block the growth of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria and viruses. This means that oregano may have a role in treating or preventing certain types of infections.

A 2011 study in humans, for example, found that applying an ointment containing oregano extract helped reduce the risk of surgical wound infection by decreasing bacterial contamination.

Another 2011 study done in a laboratory found that oregano essential oil was effective against some respiratory viruses, including one that can cause serious respiratory infections in children.

Gut check

Be wary of any claims about oregano tea that sound too good to be true. Very few studies involve human participants, and none of them involve oregano tea specifically.

This doesn’t mean that drinking oregano tea doesn’t offer any health benefits. But many health claims about oregano tea aren’t backed up by research.

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The easiest way to make oregano tea is to buy a premade tea bag and prepare it according to the instructions on the product label.

To make oregano tea at home, you can use the same dried oregano you use for cooking.

Turn the dried spice into tea by:

  • bringing 1 cup of water to a boil
  • pouring the boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried oregano in a tea strainer, which you can purchase on Amazon
  • let the mixture steep for 2 to 4 minutes
  • remove the strainer and sip

Oregano has a long history of safe use in foods and food products. Most people won’t experience side effects from consuming oregano tea. However, if you drink a lot of oregano tea — say, more than four cups a day — you might develop an upset stomach.

In rare cases, people can also have allergic reactions to oregano. If you’re allergic to any kind of mint, avoid drinking oregano tea, as you may be allergic to oregano as well.

As an herb, oregano offers many health benefits and has been shown to be antiviral, antibacterial, and to include antioxidants. It’s unclear how drinking it as a tea stacks up against other methods of consumption. Still, it’s fairly safe so it may be worth trying if you’re interested.