A leader in the production of wild oregano oil, North American Herb and Spice has helped bring this healing ingredient back into the market
By E. Z. Guler-Tuck
The use of oregano oil reached its peak in North America in the 1930s, only to be completely removed from the marketplace in the 1940s. The culprit of this mass eradication of the herb was “adulteration of the natural oil by companies trying to maximize profits,” says Judy Kay Gray, President of North American Herb and Spice.
Gray is the founder of the company, and she holds a Masters of Science in Nutrition. When she reintroduced oregano oil to the market in the 1990s, it immediately gained popularity. This rapid rise to the top was attributed to “the commitment to a pure, unadulterated, high-quality oregano oil,” she explains. However, in recent years, “it appears history is repeating itself. Competitors have flooded the marketplace with low-cost adulterated oregano oils with standardized synthetic carvacrol contents that marginalize oregano’s nutritional benefits,” just like in the 1930s.
A “small” order
Since its inception, North American Herb and Spice has grown into a company that integrates “sustainability programs and fair trade practices around the world that benefit local indigenous populations,” says Gray. “Because we look for only the highest quality old-world sources, our focus revolves around providing a premium product.” This type of business model enables the company to run as a small business with 20 full-time employees in Canada and the U.S.
A heap of health benefits
North American Herb and Spice is in the business of bottling healthy ingredients and marketing them to its customers in effective ways.
The company offers a signature line of products featuring oregano, along with other ingredients that it bottles, including omega oils, vitamins, minerals, food oils and sprays, for a total of more than 130 natural health products.
“We are the oregano experts! Recently we released several product lines we are certain will benefit our customers,” Gray affirms. The Oreganol line features everything from germ-killing cleaners to moisturizing cream, along with your usual edible oils, which dissolve in any food or beverage and are offered in a variety of sizes and application methods.
With strong antioxidant properties that are far superior to those of blueberries, “oregano oil contains a delicate balance of plant phenols that, when found in their natural ratio, can produce medicinal benefits in many different applications. This makes oregano oil very versatile as a natural alternative medicine and is why it is often called ‘the medicine chest in a bottle,’” she says. “The juice of oregano is a highly oxygenated hydrosol that provides much needed nourishment on a cellular level.”
The four different varieties, offered in capsule form, provide various benefits to the body. “First, our Oreganol P73 gelcap is a convenient way to take oil of oregano for those who prefer it in capsule form. Our OregaRESP p73 is a very concentrated, desiccated multi-spice oil capsule that provides support for the respiratory system. Our OregaMax is the original, raw, crude oregano blend that is a dietary staple for its potent, natural, trace-mineral content. Finally, our OregaBiotic is a novel spice oil complex emulsified in beeswax, which provides a unique delivery system that supports the gut and intestines,” lists Gray.
No part of the body has been overlooked; the company’s SinuOrega formulation keeps the nasal passages clear, while a topical cream made with oregano oil helps maintain good skin health.
The customer is king
One of North American Herb and Spice’s greatest strengths is the way in which it communicates with its customers. The small staff enables the company to reach out and engage its customers and the community, responding to their demands by providing quality, natural health products.
“Some of the most rewarding experiences, beyond my own personal blessings, are the miracles I have witnessed through communication I have had with my customers,” says Gray. “Countless telephone calls, letters, and emails that remind us why we work so hard to help and educate our consumer. I am reassured every time we make a difference in someone’s life, and that is what motivates us most.”
Four wild species
Unlike many oregano oil compositions, the oil produced by the company is made from a blend of four wild species of oregano. These species of oregano are derived from Turkey, where, for many years, the herb has been an important part of the culture, used in food, medicine and as a preservative.
“The North American Herb and Spice blend of wild high-mountain oregano comes from a region of Turkey where it grows directly out of ancient mineral-rich lime rock,” Gray explains. “This is of utmost importance because the natural phenolic balance found in high-mountain oregano is superior to that found in low-growing plants. Our oregano is truly wild, hand-picked by villagers whose knowledge comes from generations of personal use.”
The harvesting process begins when the oregano is transported to the distillation facility where “it is steam distilled using the purest, untainted water from a 300-foot-deep aquifer. We then bottle the oregano oil, using a time-tested ratio of certified organic extra virgin olive oil. This is the only, truly edible way to benefit from the immense powers of wild oregano oil,” she concludes.
The company continues to offer product lines that answer to the growing demand in the market, as well as work on developing new ways of bringing the ingredients to the shelves.
New developments at North American Herb and Spice HQ include “a human study that will prove oregano oil, along with other wild spice oils, is effective against toenail fungus,” Gray says.
North American Herb and Spice is dedicated to and deeply involved with the sourcing and production processes that offer its customers authentic, fresh ingredients from various regions in the world. With this mission in mind, there is no doubt that the company will take its “small business” to new heights within its categories, and the market for its products will continue to grow.