Podcast 443: Oregano Oil

On this episode, Martin Pytela welcomes Ms. Judy Gray to the Life Enthusiast podcast. Her background of Nutrition & Masters in Science led her to founding North American Herb & Spice 40 years ago. Today, we discuss how her company came to be, the healing benefits of Oregano Oil &  and their other amazing remedies you might not know you were missing from your cupboard!

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MARTIN: Hello, this is Life Enthusiast podcast. And my name is Martin Pytela, I’m the health coach here. And today I have the honor and pleasure of visiting with Ms. Judy Gray, the founder and CEO of North American Herb & Spice, a company we dearly love and support. Miss Gray.

JUDY: Yes! Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I thought it would be well worth it for people to understand just how wonderful the products are and why they are so wonderful. I mean, my general perspective and my frequent saying is, hey people, we are in the industrial food experiment and it’s not going well.

JUDY: You are so absolutely right. And this is why many years ago I decided that I had to do something about it. I was director of nutrition at a cancer hospital who used nutritional supplements and they had about 500 different supplements. And I was not really happy with all of them, because I didn’t like these synthetic ingredients. And maybe even the formulations on some of them, I wasn’t really happy with them. And it gave me an opportunity to see if these things really work or not. And many of them, I just wasn’t satisfied with. So then I became the clinic administrator for Dr. Cass Ingram, and I asked him if he used, you know, what he used, and everything. And if he was happy with all of the supplements and everything, and he was he wasn’t, of course. Some are, you know, he really loved. And and some he was just not satisfied with. So then, I had two family members with serious illnesses. One was pancreatic cancer, and so it was my turn to see, I was helping them get well. And I got both of them well.

QMARTIN: Wow! Seriously?

JUDY: And the oregano, and that was my main “arma materia”, if  you will.

MARTIN: So which year was this approximately?

JUDY: Oh, this was in the early nineties.


JUDY: Yeah. So it was very early nineties. And so I was really so amazed at how well that this oregano was working. I started out with the herb first of all. And then I kind of graduated to the oil of oregano. and you may see my little friend here. <Laugh> <laugh>

MARTIN: The visiting chief pet officer.

JUDY: Yes. Houdini my helper. And he’s the chief pet officer at Hoodi’s foodies. <Laugh> His own company now. <Laugh>

MARTIN: Okay, so question here, did you find or did you fall up on the wild from the beginning?

JUDY: Well, yes. And I’ve been in Turkey in the seventies I was there. And I had seen little tiny bottles of the oil in the souks (open-air markets) and I thought it was very interesting, but I really couldn’t get much out of them. I couldn’t understand exactly how they used it or what they believed it was good for or whatever. So I didn’t know exactly what their uses were and anyhow, so I thought well we’ll try this. And I tried it topically, first of all. And it brought out like black toxic soot out of the body, I tried it as a rub. And then I found out that I had to work with it not straight but to use it in combination with a carrier oil. So I did that, and I tested many many different carrier oils, and I decided finally to settle on a really good extra virgin olive oil. And extra virgin olive oil is not always what it seems, you have to really be careful because a lot of it is adulterated and it’s just not what it should be. So I had a really hard time finding the you know, the best extra virgin olive oil. But it also has its wonderful potential, vitamin E and all kinds of things. So it was a fabulous combination in my opinion. And I had tried avocado oil and black seed oil. Black seed oil was the next one that I really, really liked with the oregano oil.

MARTIN: Is that, was that from the early days?

JUDY: That was from the early days, yes.

MARTIN: Okay. And tell me about the extraction method. I mean the black seed is just tiny little pellets that are tiny little seeds, right?

JUDY: Yes. And it’s complex to get that done, and to do it in a cold pressed manner, it takes special machines to do that as well. And I have my same team in Turkey doing that for me. So, and I don’t just take people’s word for it. When I have something made or something, I go there and I sit there right there with them and I don’t take anybody’s word for it, you know? Oh, here’s my friend again. <Laugh>

MARTIN: That’s quite alright.

JUDY: And so I’ve spent quite a long time in Turkey and I actually went to Eskisehir university and did a lot of research for about three weeks with Dr. Bocher because he there’s over 80 different species of oregano. And there are only about four that <laugh> have the right properties to work with the body and help.

MARTIN: Well you can get technical, you can throw some science-ey words. I mean, you named your website P 73, right?

JUDY: Right. Yes. And that’s what, when we had all of these research projects done, the scientists did call it the magic bullet, if you will. The P73, and carvacrol is one of the major factors in it that has the potentiality of killing off bad bacteria, and pathogens that are harmful to the body. And that’s amazing. It really is. And you can use what we have both topically, internally, and you can use it every day. And we’re the only company that has studied all of that and made sure that it was safe to use, and also easy to use. So it has just been a phenomenal, wonderful formula for people to use and to, you gain in their health. It’s shocking! And even my sister said, oh if you hadn’t found this, I don’t know what I would do! And if I didn’t have it, I would just go into a panic because once you use it, you can find a use for it every single day. It’s incredible.

MARTIN: And this is, you’re talking about the oregano oil itself?

JUDY: The oil and the capsules as well. I use all of it every day.

MARTIN: You do?

JUDY: I do.

MARTIN: Okay. Because I hear some herbalists say hey hey oregano, you should not be using it every day because it’s going to be too much for your body to handle.

JUDY: Well. And they’re probably exactly right, because remember I said there’s over 80 species. And many of the species are way too high in some of the caustic factors, like thymol that the body cannot tolerate. So if you have that, and as far as I know, I’m the only one who tests it to make sure that it has the right kind of properties.

MARTIN: So these are, these are called terpenes in general, right?

JUDY: Well, terpenes. Yes, exactly.

MARTIN: There has been, there has been such a resurgence, or maybe a fashion of talking about terpenes, especially in the hemp industry. Right. They’re talking about the limonene and whatever else terpenes, right?

JUDY: Absolutely. Yes. And you see, some of them have… we do a gas chromatography on every single batch to make sure that it is within that configuration. And it’s, but we also found, as I said, that there were four different species of the plant that we really felt were the very best. And sometimes we would combine them and to make our own unique formula. So it’s not just something off the shelf or out of the cooker. <Laugh>

MARTIN: Okay. So beware of imitators. Yes?

JUDY: Yes. And boy, do I have a lot of imitators and some of them are putting things in there that are not even… they may be Mexican Sage. They may be something else other than even oregano. You have to know that the brand you’re using, which is probably the only one I know that’s tested as mine. So <laugh> try it.

MARTIN: I’ve noticed that you have multiple strengths, right? Like you have the regular and the super and the ultra, and they seem to be varying in the percentage of the carvacrol in it. Right?

JUDY: Well, that’s true. And you know with most things, I would say just even regular strength is probably good enough. In this crazy life of ours now I see things becoming more serious issues. Out there we see more pathogens, more parasites, more all kinds of things. And so that’s why we started coming up with the stronger dosages that many people use and seem to need. And the thing that is, you can even use it, I use it even if I have something inside my mouth or something like that, I may take a little bit of cotton, put some drops on it and then stuff it up around inside my mouth to keep the gums healthy <laugh> Good teeth, you know.

MARTIN: Right on.

JUDY: You can use it in so many ways and we even use it with the regular strength with babies, and you know that little character that’s been walking around me? <Laugh> He’s had it on him. I rub it on the pads of his little paws when he’s not feeling good. This little character, he likes to eat plastic for whatever reason. I don’t know, but that’s just a habit he’s picked up. So I have to watch him carefully. <Laugh>.

JUDY: And I think he ate some plastic and he got very, very ill. And then when I took him to the vet, he picked up cat flu. So that was a mess, I’ll tell you. And I was really afraid I was going to lose him. So I was putting the oregano on his paws and then I put him in his carrier and I gave him some of our super five greens. And then I took the oregano juice and I put it in a spray bottle because my cats in the past have been really good. I mean, they would let me just squirt it in their mouths and everything else, but he’s a toy Bobcat and he’s got his own ideas. <Laugh>

MARTIN: As you’re talking about this what pops into my head is, so how do you extract it? Is this a water or organic like alcohol or what, how do you extract this out of the herb?

JUDY: Well, what I used on him was the water extract and I put it in a bottle and I sprayed him from top to bottom. Didn’t like it, but it got him well.

MARTIN: <Affirmative> Mhmm. So that’s a basic hydrosol?

JUDY: It’s a hydrosol, yes. And we had them dig a 300 meter aquifer water well, to get absolutely clean water to do this. So they steam distill it, and when you do that, the distiller has two different little spigots and one side the oil comes out and the other side, the water comes out. And so you have the hydrosol and you have the oil and the oil can be used, at least ours can be used topically and internally, because I’ve been using it every day of my life for 40 years. So <laugh>, and I’m still alive and kicking it. <Laugh>.

MARTIN: So 40 years. So that goes back to 1980.

JUDY: Yes! Absolutely.

MARTIN: So you’re saying the company you, when did you actually start the company? 91?

JUDY: Well I’ve been using it. I was, well, I did a lot of experiment with it and I did a lot of testing before I put it out in the marketplace. And also with my family members, I used it on them. Before I put it out into the marketplace. So we were the test animals. <Laugh>.

MARTIN: So would you like to share some war stories from the early days? Like, it probably was not easy, right? When you start a little company.

JUDY: No, it wasn’t at all. And we didn’t have them labeled very professionally looking, I started out with little blue bottles and I put like a little, almost an address label on it, you know. <Laugh> And was very primitive, but it was very good, and very strong. But most of the stores they said I think I’ll pass. But they started telling the big manufacturers: there’s this crazy woman who’s coming in and saying, <laugh> that this oregano oil is so wonderful. And so it was really tough getting started, I have to tell you. So what I did was, we had written a book about it and it was called The Cure Is in The Cupboard. Well as you know back in the eighties, you could kind of say stuff like that, but you know in today’s world, oh my goodness!

MARTIN: Yes the FDA is coming. Taking your babies.

JUDY: <Laugh> We are so limited today, in what we can say and do and everything. I mean times have changed and I don’t think it’s for the better, but that’s just my opinion. And we had this book, The Cure Is in The Cupboard. We had OregaMax and that was the oregano, plus a wild herb Rhus coriaria, wild garlic, and onion. And we put it together and it was a formula that we had seen used basically right around the world. And especially in Turkey where we did our research. And it was so good and it helped in so many ways. And you could open up the capsule and put it on your pizza. <Laugh>

MARTIN: That’s what I was thinking for. I was thinking it sounds like a Greek salad in a pill.

JUDY: It was great, and it still is. So that’s what we started with. So back in the day, you could actually put products and a book together. So that’s how we started out, was putting the book and the OregaMax and the regular strength oregano oil in a package. And we would do radio shows, and what have you, and tell people about the miraculous things that we were doing with this stuff. And people were just buying it! I mean, and I was selling it out of my home and the post office said, no, you can’t bring in all these packages! <Laugh> So we were taking it to the post office. Then we had to get the mail trucks going. And then the next thing was an office.

JUDY: And now we have about 55,000 square feet and I do my own manufacturing and everything. So this has really developed and grown into a wonderful business. and the quality is so important to me. And when I find raw materials, I find them and I actually go where they are grown and usually wild, because I think wild is the best choice that you can possibly have. It’s stronger, it’s hardier, it’s more therapeutic, it’s everything that’s good. You know, you want in the wild as much as possible. If I can’t get it in the wild, then I will use organic, you know, and that’s it. <Laugh>

MARTIN: You know, what’s interesting. I have my own story with North American Herb and Spice. I think the year was maybe 2001 or two. I was in Vancouver, British Columbia. And there was the sort of the early days of my journey. And I at that stage, I still had allergies and I went into a health food store. One of the hippie stores in Vancouver. Vancouver itself is a fairly hippie town.

JUDY: Yeah. <laugh>

MARTIN: And anyway, I thought that I was getting oregano, but I just simply  a bottle, paid for it. Didn’t read the label, took it home. Ended up with a bottle of Rosemanol or Rosemary oil.


MARTIN: And I looked at it and I thought, I guess I’m gonna have to take it back. And then I had another thought, no, no, no! This is the higher power telling me that this is what I need. So I opened it up and I would take something like a dozen drops of this rosemary oil in juice straight. And sure enough, that totally kept the allergy at bay.

JUDY: Well, these are wonderful mountain grown herbs and they’re handpicked and the power of them is so amazing. And as you’ve experienced, whether it’s the rosemary or the oregano, either one of them are so wonderful and I used them all so. <Laugh>

MARTIN: Yes. I just wanted to attest to the fact that not only is it, well it’s powerful. and it’s edible, and it’s safe, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

JUDY: And the rosemary is also good for memory. And it helps short term memory. And I think sometimes, we have a tendency to start forgetting and things like that, and that helps so much. And it’s also very very good for the lymphatic flow. And that’s your secret immune system nobody really talks about. So if you rub that rosemary all over you and you will help the lymphatics work so much better.

MARTIN: And you’ll smell like roasted chicken.

JUDY: Yes. Why not?

MARTIN: Dogs will follow you.

JUDY: I like the smell of Rosemary and ours is kind of woody, it has a nice woody aroma and it’s quite nice. I like it.

MARTIN: Pleasant. It is pleasant.

JUDY: I’m so happy that you, you started with our products a long time ago.

MARTIN: Long long ago. That was before I even started the company, The Life Enthusiast. I started Life Enthusiast Enthusiast in 2003.

JUDY: Oh my goodness.

MARTIN: Yeah, I don’t know, it’s probably not worth telling, but I had my own journey of really bad health. Mainly at the hands of mercury toxicity, and it really broke me. And so I was working on getting out of that and over that, it was quite the journey.

JUDY: Well, with mercury toxicity, cilantro oil is something that is really beneficial and that helps get that nasty stuff out of our bodies.

MARTIN: Yes. Well we stock all of your fancy oils, right? Like we stock the myrtle and the fennel – Fenatrol, and the sage and the rosemary, cause I love them. And I insist that we offer it to people, even if they don’t understand why they should have them.

JUDY: Well you know, and it’s very interesting. That’s wonderful! I’m so happy to hear that. And with these oils, what makes them unique is that they are not aromatherapy oils, they are edible essentials. And when you have edible essentials, they are safe for you to use and there’s no toxicity, whereas if you use the aromatherapy oils, there are certain compounds in there that could actually cause issues. And even if you took enough of it to cause liver damage so you don’t wanna go there. You want the edible essentials and you’ve done that, and that’s a great thing. So, and it’s wonderful because you can use them inside and out and even on small children and even rubbing the oils on the bottom of a baby’s feet. You know if you have our lavender, it’s wild lavender that’s grown in the Turkish mountains and it’s really wonderful and smells so good. And if you rub that on the bottom of the baby’s feet, then you can send them right off to sleep and ‘if they’re fussy and not feeling good or something like that, it’s gonna help a whole lot.

MARTIN: What do you call your lavender product?

JUDY: Well these are, well I call them essential edibles and, but we’ve only named them just individually. Like oregano, lavender, cilantro, you know what have you, but we’re getting a little smarter about it because we were one of the first people to come out with the edible essentials. So that’s where we go, well duh that’s what they are. So we got to tell people about them, and we have our friend back again. <Laughing>

MARTIN: That’s great. So I mean we’re getting on with years, right?

JUDY: Yeah. Unfortunately that’s happening. <Laugh>

MARTIN: So what’s what’s for your company. What, where are you going to do with it? Where are you taking it? Sending it?

JUDY: Well, Steven, the young man you’ve had on, he’s my great nephew and I became his guardian when he was about 12 years old. So I’ve been indoctrinating him <laugh> all these years. And so I think, and he loves what we do. You know my family all thought I was wacko <laugh> when I started doing these things, you know? What are you doing?

MARTIN: You’re wacko only until the day when they need you.

JUDY: Yes, exactly. Yes. And my sister, she’s scared to death to go to doctors and she, if you showed her a needle, she would pass out. So I turned out to be her doctor. So whenever she calls me up and says, oh I have this, or I have that, or you know whatever. It’s like, okay, we’ll do this and we’ll do that. And she’s been strong and healthy ever since. these things work. And then they work because they give the cells what they need, the nourishment, the cleansing. You know, the pathogens don’t like them. <Laugh>

MARTIN: Yeah, that’s an interesting thing about when you throw the word pathogens, I’m thinking of the world of antibiotics, which is practically over, right? Like the age of antibiotics has come and gone because now we have realized that microbes, especially bacteria are quite capable of developing resistances to whatever is thrown at them.

JUDY: And they morph!

MARTIN: And they morph, but they can’t figure out how to deal with the plant oils.

JUDY: No, they don’t. Isn’t that interesting? Because we have seen, you know, I’m not sure if oregano is as you know, <laugh> since you’ve taken it, it’s quite peppery.

MARTIN: Oh yes. It’s intense.

JUDY: Yes. And there’s something there that really, it knocks ’em dead, but I can tell you, they don’t seem to build up a resistance to it, which is really a wonderful thing. It’s a gift from God, I call it.

MARTIN: Well, there it is, right? Nature over science.

JUDY: <laugh> Yeah. Whatever, chemical.

MARTIN: Yeah. Okay. Let’s call it that.

JUDY: Yeah.

MARTIN: My most favorite story was saying well, okay so I’ll take some sawdust and pectin, and red pigment and apple juice and vitamin C and I put it into a pile and ask the pharmacist now go and make me an apple.

JUDY: Yeah, exactly. Right.

MARTIN: It’s as if I could take all these fractions and say, and now grow a plant out of this.

JUDY: When I started out, I was using things in my armamentarium, just you know, from whatever was suggested or whatever. And I even, I didn’t know the difference between synthetic or natural and I soon learned. And particularly when I was with all of those extremely ill patients in the cancer hospital, I found that their bodies responded to these wonderful natural things. You know, it was just like those hungry cells wanted all of that nutriture, and they wanted that pure God made substances rather than the powerful chemicals and drugs. And I guess I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but <laugh> it’s just, I saw the improvement so quickly, and they felt better too. Oh my goodness. That’s the thing I hated seeing them so sick and suffering to such a terrible degree. Yeah. It was, that was tough.

MARTIN: We’re unfortunately, because we are not selling drugs, we are not able to make medical claims Or vice versa. Right. The moment I say, but I know how to cure pancreatic cancer. I can say those words, but then I cannot link a product to it.

JUDY: That’s right. That’s right. And with this, there’s a lot to it. I mean it’s, you have to live the lifestyle. You need clean water, you need fresh air. You need, you know, it’s a combination of things. There still is no one magic bullet and the supplements are extremely helpful in so many ways. But what they do is they help those 70 trillion cells to function in the healthiest way possible. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re helping to create health and not cure sickness.

MARTIN: Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yes.

JUDY: So that’s the point that I come from.

MARTIN: That’s great. That’s beautiful stated yeah. Build health. So I’ve just had one more thought, which was when did you come up with the idea of bringing the spices into it? Like I see that you have clove and cinnamon, and I mean one could cook with these, right? Like you can put them in baking, you can put them in smoothies. So like they should be on every kitchen cupboard. Right?

JUDY: Well, you know, when I was a kid, if I had a problem with a tooth or something like that, clove oil was the oil of choice to put on that sore tooth or whatever. And so I picked up on it then that these things have powers that really help when you need them. So that’s why we looked and we did all this research and we went into the wilderness and we had these wonderful, we picked the plants and made the hydrosols and the oils. And we tried them to see, how do they improve health? Do you feel better at when you’re using them? And yes, indeed they do <laugh> oh, yes. So that’s why we started putting ’em out there. And we put out all of the edible ones from the very beginning when I first started the company. So we’ve had for almost 40 years of people using these things with great results and never problems or anything like that. I mean, it was just like when you have something so good and so pure, then you don’t have any issues. And that’s what really makes me happy because that’s what it’s all about. You’re doing these things to make people feel good, look good. <Laugh> have a better life.

MARTIN: Yes. That’s great. Well, I certainly am hoping that we’ll have many many more years of North American Herb and Spice, and may you enjoy wonderful health, and stay with it.

JUDY: Well, thank you.

MARTIN: And I’m feeling encouraged that you have the tradition anchored well, so that it’s not going to just go away if you decide to retire because you surely deserve it.

JUDY: Well, I worked really hard to get all of these wonderful products out there. And Dr. Cass Ingram was a big believer in them and he supported everything in a beautiful way. And he used everything in his practice and he was so in love with them and he knew how well everything helped people in so many ways. And so that’s why it would be a horrible shame of all of this wonderful hard work, just disappeared. So I’m determined that it won’t. <Laugh>

MARTIN: Indeed.

JUDY: And it will outlast me for sure.

MARTIN: I miss him dearly. I’ve had the chance to do a few interviews with him and he was such a bright spark. I’m so sad that he’s no longer here.

JUDY: We’ll really miss him.

MARTIN: Indeed. Well, I didn’t mean to end on a sad note, but I guess parting is part of life. So let’s just say that I’m really happy to have had the chance to talk to you and to give you a chance to tell us how the company started all of that. And so let’s hope that our clients will feel inspired to pick up both the oils and all the other products and try them on in their life.

JUDY: Yes. And they must remember they are edible essentials and not aromatherapy, not perfume grade, not industrial grade. None of that. They are the best in the world.

MARTIN: North American Herb and Spice. Yes <Affirmative> Ms. Judy Gray. Thank you, it’s been a pleasure and an honor.

JUDY: Thank you

MARTIN: For Life Enthusiast. This is Martin Pytela Life-Enthusiast.com. You can find us on the internet or at (866) 543-3388 on the phone. Thank you for being here.

Author: Life Enthusiast