Health Benefits of Oil of Oregano

I have always enjoyed oregano. It adds a nice light spicy flavor doesn’t it? Especially to mediterranean dishes like homemade greek pizza! Yum! I have a nice big oregano plant in my herbin garden and was trying to think of a way to harvest and use it.

Then I was diagnosed with Candida and my whole outlook on oregano changed.

Candida Albicans is a type of internal yeast/fingus that is necessary to a healthy digestive system and gut flora. However, when that healthy balance is compromised (whether through a food intolerance, leaky gut issue, or strong medications) candida often gets out of control and takes over the gut and eventually proliferates throughout the body. It can cause numerous health issues and is often left undiscovered for years. See, I started getting this weird rash on my hand and arms. I chalked it up to eczema or some type of allergy.  But after a few months of no progress I knew something internal needed to be dealt with. Through a LOT of reading and research I diagnosed myself with an candida overgrowth.  And yes, I also went to our family doctor for a more professional diagnosis. He confirmed my suspicions. I have 22 out of a possible 34 strains of this stuff! can you say YUCK!?

So, I continued reading and researching. I literally spent hours finding articles, websites, and books on candida, the anti-candida diet, the cause of candida, treating candida…etc etc.   I started taking a number of anti-fungal herbs like garlic, grapefruit seed extract, coconut oil, and caprylic acid. I found some good probiotics and eliminated all diary, starch, grains, and sugars from my diet. Trying to starve out these suckers.

As I researched I kept running into oil of oregano and its healing properties. I found a lot of information on its ability to help rid the body of candida, so naturally I was curious.

Here are some of the health benefits of oil of oregano:

  • Anti Bacterial
  • Anti Viral
  • Anti Fungal
  • Anti Oxidant
  • Anti Inflammatory
  • Anti Parasitic
  • Anti Allergenic
  • Helpful for digestion
  • Aids in balancing hormones in women
  • Can help in healing skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, and athlete’s foot. Assists the body in fighting the flu and colds. It can be used to treat bacterial infections like E Coli, Giardiasis and food poisoning.
  • Many studies have found that it is a very effective pain killer and many use it to treat migraines and other chronic pain.

Essential oils a.k.a. “oil of ___” have been used medicinally throughout history. Today many people use a variety of essential oils for their cooking, beauty, fragrance and health benefits. Most common essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus are distilled with hot water, steam, and condensation. You can also use ethyl alcohol or a carrier oil to extract the oils.

I decided that this would be a perfect way to use up some of that oregano that was staring me in the face!! It was time for an herbin experiement!

I found a number of recipes online for how to make your own oil of oregano. I decided to use olive oil as my carrier oil because I had it on hand and it seemed simple enough.

Here is the method I used to make my Oil of Oregano, or OoO. :)

  • I picked about 1/2 cup of oregano leaves from my herbin garden. I put it in a little jar so you can see how much I picked. Pretty huh?

Fresh Oregano

  • I then washed the oregano and put it into a large plastic bag. I used a large wooden spoon and my rolling pin to crush and beat the leaves in the bag. Bruising the leaves causes the oil to bleed out a bit.
  • I then warmed some olive oil in a pan of boiling water (not on the stove) until the oil was warmed thoroughly.
  • I poured the warmed oil into the bag with the crushed oregano leaves, mixed it all up together, and then poured it the oregano/oil mix into a small mason jar. I covered the jar and then set it in a cool dark place for 2 weeks to “steep”.

Helping to extract the oils

  • I shook the oil up every 3 days or so just to make sure there was no settling and to peek in on my project.

After 2 weeks I took the jar out and strained the mixture through a cheese cloth. Well actually it was a mesh-like pink favor bag. But that’s beside the point. I poured the oil through the cloth and then squeezed every last ounce of oil from the leaves.

Leaves after oil is strained out

  • I then put the light green oil into a clean jar for use. And there you have it. Oil of Oregano!

    Oil of Oregano, folks!

 

Keep in mind that this stuff is rather potent so its best to take only 2-4 drops per day in a glass of water, juice or another beverage. You can also purchase capsules if you wish. It can also cause skin irritation if used topically (remember this is an extract so its very concentrated) so test a small area of skin before applying to a larger area. If you dont want to make your own Oil of Oregano, but are interested in its many health benefits you can purchase it online here.

**Pregnant women should not take oil of oregano as it is a uterine stimulant. If you are breastfeeding please discuss it with your care provider. Many women have seen a drop in their milk supply from taking Oil of Oregano. **

 

Arnica Montana: duct tape for childhood

I have had a number of people ask me what some of my “go-to” herbal/homeopathic remedies are. And, while I’m no herbal guru, there are a few things in my medicine cabinet that are definitely worth sharing and that have worked for me and my family. I’ll start with arnica montana.

Move over Icy Hot, there’s a new sheriff in town!!

Arnica Montana

I have decided that arnica montana or “ahn gock” as Norah likes to call it, is basically the duct tape of childhood. There have been many occasions where one of my girls will fall and bump their head and I’ll think “oof, that’s gonna leave a mark”. So, like a good herbin mama, I slather on some arnica cream and chances are that there wont be anything to show for that owie by the next day.

 Arnica is a small yellow flower with woody stalks that has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500′s. The benefits of arnica montana are many. Arnica can be used both internally and externally, in adults or children. Many people find that, when taking arnica internally they have better focus, less anxiety, and gain relief from headaches and abdominal pain. When used topically (or internally), arnica acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, natural anti-biotic, has pain relieving qualities. It also helps prevent bruising by helping to disperse trapped blood and fluid from the site of injury. Arnica should not be used on cuts or open wounds, but is hugely beneficial when used on strains, sprains, bumps, or bruises.

If you have kids, you need this stuff. Not even kidding.

Arnica is also great for sore and strained muscles. I have used it often after a game of soccer or hockey, or when I returned home from a long hike. One study performed in Norway actually showed that marathon runners who applied arnica to their skin before the event felt less pain and muscle stiffness afterwards. When used topically in gel form at 50% concentration, arnica montana was found to have the same effect when compared to a 5% ibuprofen gel for treating the symptoms of hand osteoarthritis.

Some mothers choose to take arnica tablets after giving birth to aid in healing and to lessen swelling and bruising. It is very safe and effective and has no dangerous side effects unless taken in very high quantities. I took arnica after giving birth to Norah and could definitely tell a difference.

our oft used arnica gel

Many commercial anti-inflammatory creams now contain arnica as an active ingredient because…well… because herbs work!!

You can purchase arnica in tablet form or gel/cream form at your local health store or online. It is an inexpensive herbal remedy that you will use at least a couple times per week. I’d say go for it.

Making Almond Milk

Shortly after my youngest daughter was born, we realized that she could not tolerate dairy. Since I was breastfeeding, I choose remove dairy from my diet so as not to upset her little tummy. It was a challenge at first, but I gradually came to enjoy my non diary options and found lots of tasty alternatives to cows milk.

Chocolate almond milk was one of those alternatives. See, I love chocolate almond milk. A lot. I could easily chug a half gallon in a day. My girls love it too, so I often freeze it in little popsicle molds to make healthy fudgesicles. 

Yesterday I went shopping and nearly bought some but, I refrained because, well, its pricey. And wouldn’t you know, as soon as I got home I immediately wished I had a big glass of chocolate almond milk. Cold and refreshing, coupled with a cookie or two maybe? Why oh why didnt I buy it?! Saver’s remorse hit hard.

Thankfully, I have people in my life (Hi, Sara!) who are resourceful and like to say, “hey why don’t you just make your own almond milk?” instead of listening to my whining.

So, I hopped online and found a recipe for chocolate almond milk. Much to my pleasure, I found that making almond milk is actually pretty easy! And it tastes really good, too. Bonus!

Ingredients:

1.5-2 C Raw Almonds (soaked overnight)
4-5 C Water
4 Tbs Organic cocoa powder
4 Tbs raw honey

Directions:

  • Pour raw almonds into a jar and fill with water and soak overnight
  • Pour out the dingy water and rinse the almonds off
  • Put the softened almonds into a blender.
  • Add 4-5 cups of water
  • 4 tablespoons of organic cocoa powder
  • 4-5 tablespoons of organic honey or stevia (or whatever sweetener you might like)
  •  Blend, blend, blend
  • Strain the liquid into another container

And wala, chocolate almond milk!

You can keep this milk in the fridge for about a week. But I doubt it will last through the day at our house ::gulp gulp gulp::

**you can also dehydrate the leftover almond meal in the oven on low for 2-3 hours and use it for baking!**