Courtesy of MARION OWEN

Head colds and sore throats are no fun. But you can diminish their hold on you. This fishing float, painted by Anchorage-based artist Kate Alexander while suffering from a bad head cold. Garlic-Oregano Tea to the rescue!

My artist-friend Kate hopped over to the island last week for a visit. She was in search of old fishing floats, on which she paints nautical scenes, blending starfish, octopuses, seaweed and other ocean subjects with watercolors. By the end of her stay however, Kate was complaining of a mild headache. Things worsened. When I dropped her off at the airport, she was sniffling with a cold about to descend.

I felt badly for her, since we didn’t have time to brew a batch of garlic-oregano tea. Sounds terrible? The tea, I mean. I can tell you from first-hand experience, that this tea really works. Many times, the tea has substantially reduced the symptoms of a cold or stopped it altogether. It might not be the tastiest hot brew on the planet, but you do get used to it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll get back to Kate in a moment, but let’s start by focusing on the unsung heroes of the garden: Herbs. Here we are, at the end of September, and I’m still harvesting dill, cress, sage, parsley, calendula and oregano. (My garlic has been harvested, dried, stored and replanted for next year’s crop).

Herbs have a power-punch that most veggies can only dream of. Having said that, it’s unfortunate that herbs are not prescribed as part of our first medicine, along with moving to a plant-based diet more often instead of pills. 

Herbs are amazingly versatile: Dried, frozen, made into vinegars, salves, food seasoning and more. And since I’m talking about garlic-oregano tea, let’s look at the recipe and its primary players: Garlic and oregano.



2 cups water

A few slices red onion

4 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or 2 Tbl dried 

4 to 6 slices fresh ginger

2 Tbl fresh lemon juice

2 tsp honey or other sweetener

Pinch cayenne pepper

Directions: Place water, onion, garlic, oregano, and ginger in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and steep for 15-20 minutes. It will turn a nice pink-blush color. Remove from heat and stir in lemon and sweetener. Pour into a mug and take small sips all day! When you’ve emptied the pot of liquid, add boiling water to the ingredients for another round. Then make a new batch.  

First, garlic…

Garlic resides in one of two superfood classes of vegetables that are most adept at blocking human cancer cell growth in a petri dish. One is the broccoli family and the other is the garlic/onion family. But the absolute #1 food against breast cancer? Garlic. #1 against brain tumors? Garlic. #2 against kidney cancer: Garlic. Lung cancer? Garlic. Childhood brain tumors? Garlic. Pancreatic cancer? Garlic. Prostate cancer and stomach cancer? Garlic. All this, according to (full disclosure here): A comparative, by D. Boivin, S. Lamy, S. Lord-Dufour, J. Jackson, E. Beaulieu, M. Côté, A. Moghrabi, S. Barrette, D. Gingras, and R. Beliveau. Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study. Food Chem., 112(2):374{380, 2009.

Rather than tracking down the actual study, you can watch the video, which turns complicated data into a Reader’s Digest version at NutritionFacts.org video:  https://nutritionfacts.org/video/1-anticancer-vegetable/

Next, oregano…

Oregano is a member of the mint family. How can you tell by looking at a sprig of oregano? The proof is in its square stems. A square stem means it’s a member of the mint (mentha) family. Oregano is used in cuisines in the Mediterranean region, the Philippines, Greece and Latin America. Its popularity in the U.S. is said to have sparked when soldiers, returning home from WWII, brought back a taste for the ‘pizza herb.’

New research is discovering more properties for oregano as an antibacterial agent and an antifungal agent for example. Did you know that oregano has 40 times the antioxidant power of blueberries? Okay, to that’s on a weight-by-weight basis, but it gives you reason to pause and sprinkle the herb on your food and make a tea, or salad dressing like this one:



2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 TBL almond butter

1 TBL lemon juice

1 TBL white miso paste

1 TBL minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard

1/4 ground turmeric teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and basil

So how is Kate feeling? As I write this, she is hunkered down in her little house in Anchorage, painting more floats. When I asked for a photo to illustrate this column she texted back, “I’d love to see your article when you’re done.”

Hopefully, she’ll make a batch of Garlic-Oregano Tea…

To see more of Kate’s work, look her up on Facebook. Meanwhile, to share Kodiak with friends and family by signing up for my “Goodness from Kodiak” newsletter. Look for details on the home page of my blog at MarionOwenAlaska.com. I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.


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