Before allopathic medicine, herbs and other botanicals were the go-to remedies to heal the body. My easy and healthy healing Italian dressing contains functional herbs that can help balance bacterial, fungal overgrowth. This dressing only takes a few minutes to make, and chances are you have the ingredients in your cabinet.
Let’s meet the herbs.
Basil was once prescribed as a sedative against gastric spasms. It acts as an expectorant (improves the airway by loosening mucus and phlegm to be expelled) and can have a laxative effect. (1)
This popular herb may also aid in digestion; click here to learn six more ways to improve your digestion immediately. Protip: If you break the basil leaves and rub the juice on your skin, it may help repel mosquitoes.
Your kitchen probably already has some oregano in the cabinet. Just about every “Italian herb blend” will have at least a little bit of this common yet powerful herb.
For the herb nerds: origanum vulgare in Britain is called wild marjoram (more on this herb below); in Mediterranean countries, wild origanum vulgare is known as oregano. (1) The word oregano stems from the Latin origanon, which translates to “brightness or joy of the mountains.”
Ancient Greeks and Romans used oregano as a massage oil and as a disinfectant and preservative. (1) Due to the high thymol and carvacrol content, this herb has also functioned as an antiseptic and is powerfully antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-parasitic. These properties also make oregano helpful for vaginal infections. (1)(2)
Marjoram and oregano are both species of the genus origanum. Oregano plants have a concentration of the aromatic compound carvacrol, creating a savory flavor. Marjoram is sweeter, as it isn’t high in carvacrol; instead, the flavor comes from a variety of aromatic compounds, including sabinene (fresh, woody), terpinene (citrus), and linalool (floral). (1) To avoid confusion, marjoram is often called sweet marjoram to prevent confusion in areas that call oregano as we know it marjoram.
Sweet marjoram is an incredible source of antioxidants because it contains ursolic acid, carvacrol, and thymol. (2). Just one teaspoon in your salad can double the ORAC value of that meal. (2) Dried sweet marjoram has an ORAC value of 92,310 (fresh coming in at 27,297); for perspective, this is a higher antioxidant value than Gotu kola, camu camu, cocoa, cumin, black pepper, saffron, maqui berry, astragalus, and many other popular antioxidant containing foods!
Studies have also reported antimicrobial activity, antiulcerogenic effects, anticancer, and antiproliferative properties. 3 It may even help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, boosting levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that speeds communication between brain cells. (2)
Thyme is another cabinet staple that is commonly used in Italian cooking. It is warming, drying, and pungent. (4) In addition to adding great flavor, thyme is antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibiofilm, antileishmanial, and anticancer. (1,4)
Many of these benefits come from thymol, a natural monoterpenoid phenol. In studies, thymol shows to stop the herpes simplex one virus and is effective against bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics, even MRSA. (2)
Additionally, it aids in digestion, helping to break down fatty foods. (1) If you still aren’t sold, know that thyme is (5):
- A carminative (helps relieve gas)
- An expectorant
- An emmenagogue (stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus; some stimulate menstruation)
- A vermifuge (helps with parasites)
- Supports healing UTIs, yeast infections, and topical fungal infections
- Helpful for stomach pains, wounds, burns, toothaches, congested sinuses, inflammation, whooping cough, digestive spasms, menstrual cramps, and amenorrhea.
Herbalists have been using this herb for sore throats, infected gums, hangovers, and mouthwash for infected gums. Add a few drops of thyme oil to your bath to help ease rheumatic pain or in salves and massage oils. (1)
Remember, quality matters. My go-to for quality herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. With over 30 years in business, they offer sustainable, organic items, including herbs, spices, teas, essential oils, and more to the US and Canada. They are a zero-waste and fair trade company dedicated to improving the world while supporting their local communities.
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, chop, and let sit for 15 minutes
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 -2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)
- Pepper to taste
- Place all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid.
- Whisk or shake until well mixed.
- Allow sitting at least one hour before using; 24 hours will be even better.
Use on salads, beans, grains, lentils, or pasta. Use this dressing to make my Healthy Pasta Salad.
Don’t forget to chew each bite at least 30 times!
The information in this blog and on this site is not meant to cure, prevent or treat any diseases, nor is it a replacement for medical advice. Always check with your health care professional before trying supplements or dietary changes.
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- McVicar, J., 1995. Herbs for the home. New York: Viking Studio Books.
- Aggarwal, B. and Yost, D., 2011. Healing spices. New York: Sterling Pub. Co.
- Bina, F. and Rahimi, R., 2016. Sweet Marjoram. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(1), pp.175-185.
- Kowalczyk A, Przychodna M, Sopata S, Bodalska A, Fecka I. Thymol and Thyme Essential Oil-New Insights into Selected Therapeutic Applications. Molecules. 2020;25(18):4125. Published 2020 Sep 9. doi:10.3390/molecules25184125
- de la Forêt, Rosalee. (2017). Alchemy of Herbs: Transform everyday ingredients into foods & remedies that heal. Hay House, Inc.