Tom Greenthumb Gardening

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Oregano - Herb of the Week - Oregano Mouthwash

Sometimes referred to as the "pizza herb", my herb of the week is oregano. This perennial produces greenish-gray leaves with purple and pink flowers in the summer. A perfect addition to the basic herb garden. I've used it as ground cover for an attractive effect. More commonly though, this herb is used in many culinary dishes with an Italian flair, such as pizza, tomato based sauces, eggplants, and meats.

Oregano seeds should be sewn outdoors in the spring after the last frost. Planting in a well-drained location will yield the best results. Space these plants 12 inches apart and wait for seed germination, which usually takes around 7 to 14 days. It's best to harvest these plants by cutting fresh leaves as needed or just before the flowers bloom.

While oregano tastes great on our favorite Italian dishes, it also has many medicinal uses, such as a cure for sinusitis or throat inflammation. For inflammation of the mouth and throat, an oregano based mouthwash will help alleviate the symptoms. In 1 1/2 cups of boiling water add 2 tablespoons of the dried herb or four tablespoons of the fresh oregano leaves. Cover and steep the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain off the remaining herbs and allow your mouthwash mixture to cool. Use this warm liquid to gargle three to five times daily.

Whether eaten on your favorite foods, or used for its practical medicinal values, oregano is a versatile plant that should be in any basic herb garden.


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