DIY Oregano oil (or oil of oregano) is an apothecary must-have! It’s both cheap and easy to make, and will only cost you 15 minutes of time. Keep reading to find out how to make it, and why you should add this to your apothecary list of herbal remedies!
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Oregano has been touted as useful and precious for a long time…
Did you know, that in the (ancient) Greek language, the term “oregano” means “Joy of the mountain”. (source) This fact is a big hint as to where this plant is from natively, and suddenly gives the word Oregano all types of first name potential, amiright!? During this same place and time period (Ancient Greece) it was commonly believed that the meat that was derived from cows who grazed on these oregano filled fields were tastier to eat. I mean, it makes sense. I think of it the wild oregano oil acting as a type of “pre- marinade”. It was also used for many different ailments, as well as of course for cooking. It still is!
The Oregano Family
The oregano plant, or “Origanum Vulgare” is a perennial herb plant from the mint family lamiaceae. It has stems that grow woody in texture and appearance with age and, interestingly, it is also sometimes referred to as “wild marjoram”. The Origanum Vulgare plant is geographically native to the Mediterranean and Western Asian parts of the world where it grows with small, close, oval shaped leaves. (source)
The leaves of these fresh herbs are covered in very tiny hairs called glandular trichomes, and in flowering, grows small flowers that grow together and are either white, pink or light purple in colour. This plant is very well known for it’s delicious aromatic flavour, which can be aroused from either the dry or fresh plant by simply crinkling it in the palm of your hand or rubbing it between your thumb and forefinger.
Different Types of Oregano
There exists 2 major divisions of oregano: culinary (for eating) and ornamental (not for eating).
For the purposes of this recipe, any of the culinary varieties, except Sweet Marjoram (because it tends to have a delicate flavour that gets further diminished when heated) are recommended.
Culinary types include:
-Common oregano or “Oraginum vulgare”
-Syrian oregano or “Origanum syriacum”
-Greek oregano or “Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum ‘Greek’’
-Italian oregano or “Origanum x majoricum”
-Sweet marjoram or “Origanum majorana”
Ornamental types include:
-Golden oregano or “Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’’
-ornamental oregano (quite literally)
-also sweet marjoram or “Origanum majorana”
How to harvest oregano for oregano oil
Oregano is ready to harvest once it reaches 4 (four) inches in height, and should be for sure harvested once it reaches 8 (eight) inches in height. Ideally, before it blooms it should be picked as this is when it’s concentration of oils (and therefore flavour, aroma and healing properties) are at the maximum. Picking it during this window of time is the best way to benefit from all of the amazing properties of oregano.
Can you use fresh oregano for oregano oil?
If you are planning to use the fresh oregano for your oil, you can simply grasp the stem between your thumb and forefinger, and run them from the bottom third of the plant up to the top of the plant, which will cause the leaves to pop off as you move your hand upwards. Collect the fallen leaves and store in a bowl or container for your oil use.
Alternatively, you can use gardening shears to cut the top 2/3 of the stem off, with the leaves still attached. From here, if you were planning to use the fresh oregano in your oil, you could pop off the leaves into a bowl, or just chop up the leaves and stems together to use. Since the oil will, eventually, be strained, there’s no need to worry about separating the stems from the leaves.
If you would like to use dried oregano for your oregano oil
If you are wanting to use dried oregano for your oregano oil, you can cut off the oregano, stems with leaves attached, from 2/3 of the way down the plant, leaving the bottom third of the plant still attached and able to continue growing. At this point, you would need rope (or twine or an elastic) to tie the bundle of oregano together, and then hang it from somewhere clean and dry for 5-7 days until it has completely dried.
Alternatively, you could dry your oregano in a food dehydrator. This is my least favourite option as it uses extra energy, and the extra heat will cause some decrease in the taste, and homeopathic potential of the herb.
What is the difference between essential oregano oil and oil of oregano?
Essential oils are made from different parts of aromatic plants through the processes of drying, pressing and distillation, which causes the release (and then encasement in a bottle or jar) of the oils of the plants, which are known to contain healing and beneficial to the body compounds. (source) The main component of essential oils is called terpenes, but they also contain other elements in trace amounts (including alcohols, esters and aldehydes).
The essential oils that we extract from plants and use are created within the plants themselves for the purposes of protection from various natural pests and predators, to encourage pollination from various insects, as a type of signal system within the plant kingdom. As I’m sure you know, since you are reading this article, it turns out that these oils also have many benefits for human bodies too!
Oregano essential oil is a pure product, meaning that the distillation process allows the capture of the pure oil from the oregano plant. This pure oil is extremely potent and will cause harm if used undiluted. Typically, oregano essential oil is either diffused in an essential oil diffuser, or mixed with a carrier oil and/ or other substances at a rate of 1-2 percent to 98-99 percent carrier oil or other product. Pure oils are NOT for consumption. (source)
Oil of oregano is created through adding the oregano plant to an oil, and then heating up the oil and plant which causes the plant to release its essential oils into the carrier oil. Oil of oregano, therefore, CONTAINS oregano oil extract (because it is extracted through the heating process), however it is not ONLY the essential oil of the oregano plant, which is what you get when you purchase pure oregano essential oil.
Oil of oregano is what you get when you dilute the essential oils of oregano into a carrier oil. This homemade oil can be consumed, applied topically, and even used for cooking or baking.
Benefits of oregano
Disclaimer: This information contained in this article is not medical advice, and should not be treated as such. It is solely for information purposes. I am not a doctor. All opinions are my own.
Oregano has anti-inflammatory properties
Oregano contains the terpene compounds thymol and carvacrol which have been shown in studies to exert anti inflammatory activity, as well as increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. It also contains rosmarinic acid. These studies suggest that this could be a very useful compound in treating diseases that deal with inflammation. (source)
Oregano has powerful antioxidants
Oregano has antioxidant properties which means it helps prevent cell damage.
Oxidative stress has been correlated to many diseases including Alzheimers, diabetes, atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s and some types of cancer. Carvacrol and thymol, specifically, have been studied for their ability to fight against and/ or neutralize this oxidative stress which can lead to the production of free radicals. (source)
Bottom line: Oregano compounds can help to prevent cell damage that results from oxidative stress.
Oregano has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties
Studies have used the carvacrol from oregano, in which a bactericidal action by the carvacrol was noted. This bactericidal action is believed to have been carried out through cell membrane damage.(source)
Bottom line: Oregano has been proven, as one of its many health benefits, to effectively fight bacteria.
Oregano can help lower cholesterol
Clinical study results have shown that with a test group who consumed oregano after each meal for 3 months, the level of “bad” cholesterol had decreased in the test subject’s bodies, and the level of “good” cholesterol had increased. (source) These studies suggest that oregano has great potential in supporting the health of individuals with cardiovascular diseases!
Oregano has antifungal properties
Oregano contains thymol, which has been shown to be an affective agent in fighting fungal overgrowths, including, but not limited to candida, which when in overgrowth causes vaginal yeast infections and thrush. (source)
(note that this study was not done on humans, but rather in test tubes. Of course more studies would be needed to confirm the success rate of this compound against yeast in humans.) (source)
Bottom line: Oregano has been shown to effectively fight fungal infections
People use oregano oil in different ways (either internally or externally) for various maladies and medicinal uses (source) including:
- high cholesterol
- urinary tract infections
- sore throat
- respiratory infections and other respiratory problems
- menstrual cramps
- psoriasis (and other skin conditions)
- gum disease
- fungus infections
- ring worm
- insect bites
- bug repellent
- joint pains
- muscle pain
- athlete’s foot
Precautions to take when using oregano oil
In pregnant women or breastfeeding women, oregano should not be taken in medicinal amounts. (This means any amount larger than one would normally consume as a part a regular meal.)
Topically, when applied to the affected area oregano oil could possibly cause an adverse reaction or allergic reaction to someone who has an allergy to plants in the lamiceae family.
The dosing of oregano oil has not been established as the quality of ingredients as well as concentration of active ingredients varies. Large amounts of oregano can be toxic and even lethal. It is always best to start with small amounts and consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medicine or remedy.
Large amounts of oregano consumed have the potential for upset stomach as side effects.
Individuals who are on blood thinning medications, medications for diabetes or lithium should avoid taking oregano oil. (source)
How do you make DIY oregano oil (oregano infused oil)?
-fresh or dried oregano
-a glass container (you could recycle one that was previously used for pasta sauce or use a mason jar)
-a dark glass jar to store your oil in once it’s complete (these are lovely and come with extras!)
-tight fitting lid
-olive carrier oil
-a coffee press (peep this Bodum sustainable press in chic black) OR
-cheese cloth, doubled paper towel or coffee filter
-label (I’m planning to get these for my kitchen) and marker
1.First you’ll need to harvest your oregano leaves, or gather your dried oregano. Place it in the clean glass jar, making sure to leave at least 2 inches at the top of headspace.
2.Next, grab your olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is my preference) and pour it over the oregano until it is completely submerged by at least 1/2 inch of oil.
You will now need to fill a pot with water, and heat it on the stove until boiling. Place a lid on the jar while you are waiting. Once the water is boiled, place the lidded jar in the water for 10 minutes. The water level should be at least halfway up the height of the jar.
3.You will notice that some of the oil will be absorbed by the oregano, this is normal.
4. When this happens, top up the olive oil in the jar until it is again submerged by at least 1/2 inch. Take the jar out of the water and leave it in a cool place to come down to room temperature.
5. Once it has cooled, place it in a cool, dark, dry place and return once each day, for the next 5 days to shake it once per day.
6.On the 5th day, strain the oregano pieces from the oil. I like to do this using a coffee press (actually, I use a coffee press for many things besides coffee in my kitchen!). Alternatively, you could use a cheese cloth, coffee filter, doubled paper towel or fine mesh sieve.
Pour the oregano oil into a dark glass jar (these are so pretty!) . It’s a good idea to label it “oregano oil” so that no one gets surprised when they reach for it. It is now ready for all of your home remedy and cooking uses!
Good news! DIY homemade oregano oil can be kept in the fridge and will last up to 2 years!
If you are interested in other natural and nutritious food sources, you might enjoy THIS article about the many benefits of nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast.
How do you make oregano oil with dry oregano?
You can make oregano oil with dry oregano using the exact same process (above) that you would use to make it using fresh oregano!
Can I make my own oregano oil?
Absolutely you can. It’ll take you hardly any time at all and is super easy. The other option you can use is to purchase a good quality oil of oregano capsule from either online or at your local health food store.
Can you make your own oregano essential oil?
Not really. Pure essential oils are made using a very complicated distillation process which uses tools and equipment that most people do not have at home, nor have access to. If you prefer to have the real deal, PURE essential oil, I use Young Living essential oils. This brand is well known for the quality of their essential oil products, including their oregano essential oil.
What is the best oil to make oregano oil?
In the recipe above, I chose to use extra virgin olive oil. Some other popular choices for a base oil are almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil or coconut oil.
Disclaimer:The Information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. It is recommended that for any health concerns or questions anyone may have, you consult a licensed medical provider. That Zoi Life does not assume liability or responsibility for the use and/or misuse of any of the information listed in this article or on this site.
This recipe was so easy to make, and I love that it can be used for so many things. For me, having home remedies is not only about saving money, but also about honouring my connection to nature. What’s your fave home remedy? Let me know in the comments below!
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Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.