What Is Oregano Oil?

So, what exactly is oregano oil? Whenever people talk about the oregano herb, it is usually about the universally popular spice used in Italian cuisine like pasta and salad dishes. This versatile herb has gone from the kitchen and into the medicinal world to become a herbal oil with incredible healing properties.

What Oil of Oregano Is

Oil of oregano is derived from the wild oregano plant, a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. This plant grows in great numbers in the mountainous regions of Asia and Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean area. The oil is extracted from the dried leaves and flowers of mature plants through steam distillation method. Of the more than 40 species of oregano, the oil derived from Mediterranean wild oregano (Origanum vulgare) is found to be most healthfully beneficial. For treating disorders, oil of oregano can be applied to the affected area, taken orally, sublingually (under the tongue), or inhaled in aromatherapy. However it is administered, you can expect to see a remarkable line-up of benefits.

Benefits of Oregano Oil

Early Greek and Roman herbalists have discovered a wide range of medicinal uses of oregano oil. Its versatility makes it an indispensable part of everyone’s herbal medicine arsenal. • Oregano oil has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. Carvacrol and thymol, two phenols found in oregano, are proven antimicrobials. Research findings have shown that they can kill the pathogen Listeria and even the virtually indestructible MRSA.

  • Oregano oil has antioxidants that can aid the body’s immune system.
  • Oregano oil contains E-BCP (beta-caryophyllin) that suppresses inflammation.
  • Oregano oil contains the phytochemicals rosmarinic acid and carnosol that have shown promising results as cancer-fighting agents.
  • Oregano oil has potent anti-viral properties that can treat cold, cough, flu, and other upper respiratory infections.
  • Oregano oil is a natural antihistamine that can inhibit allergic reactions like inflammation, sneezing, and itching.
  • Oregano oil acts as an anti-parasitic that can repel lice, mosquitoes, bed bugs, and fleas when used externally. It can get rid of tapeworms, roundworms, and other intestinal parasites when taken orally.
  • Oregano oil promotes proper digestion by stimulating the release of digestive juices. It can also maximize the use of food nutrients by causing the release of enzymes that promote better food absorption.

How Does Oil of Oregano Work?

Oregano oil contains various chemical components that work in synergy to create the antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial effect it is known for. Of these, the primary component is carvacrol which provides a lot of healing benefits. As an antimicrobial, carvacrol can penetrate tough cell membranes that bacteria use to hide from the body’s auto-immune defenses. Given its potent antibiotic action, oregano oil is not intended as a long-term medication. It is recommended to be used for only seven to ten days and taken in regulated doses.

Components of Oregano Oil

Oil of oregano possesses powerful antimicrobial properties through the presence of natural phytochemical compounds called phenols. They are known to have antioxidant effects.


This phenol fights a host of bacterial infections like staphylococcus, E. coli, Candida albicans, salmonella, campylobacter, the aspergillus mold, giardia, pseudomonas, listeria, and klebsiella.


A natural antifungal and antiseptic that helps strengthen the immune system, shields the body against toxins and promotes healing of damaged tissues.

Rosmarinic Acid

An antioxidant that stops the damage caused by free radicals. It has the potential to treat allergic asthma, as well as prevent cancer and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). It has antihistamine properties that can minimize the effects of allergy breakouts.

Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP)

An inflammation-suppressant with beneficial effects on arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis.


Another cancer cell growth inhibitor that raises the antioxidant effect of oregano oil.


Great as a stress and anxiety reliever.


Contain potent bacteria-killing properties. Oregano oil also contains vitamins A, C, and E, as well as nutrients like iron, niacin, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese.

How Safe is Oil of Oregano?

Oregano oil is safe as long as you use it as directed. If taken orally, it needs to be diluted in water or juice and thinned out with carrier oils like olive, coconut, or almond oil if applied topically. Test yourself first if you are allergic to oregano oil by applying a diluted drop of the oil on your arm and observe if any reaction occurs. Not all oregano oil is created equal. Hence, you need to be watchful of the many brands of oregano oil sold in the market. Many of them could be adulterated and may not have the therapeutic value that you paid for. Be sure that the oil of oregano that you are buying is manufactured from the Mediterranean variety Origanum vulgare or the Spanish variety Thymus capitatus. These oils are golden to dark yellow in color and have a strong herbal scent.

What Healing Solutions Can Oregano Oil Provide?

As a Treatment for Herpes

The powerful active component carvacrol in oregano oil actually breaks down the thick cell membrane that protects the herpes virus. This allows the oil’s antibiotic components to penetrate the viral defense, where they attack and kill the virus. Oregano oil can be applied topically with a carrier oil or taken sublingually. This is covered fully in Using Oregano Oil To Treat Herpes.

As a Treatment for Cold Sores

The red, swollen, and frequently painful blisters of cold sore are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1). The blisters generally appear around the mouth and on the lips. Unlike standard antibiotics that are next to useless, oregano oil can pass through the tough cell membrane and destroy the viruses that live inside the cell itself. A study conducted in 2007 showed that oregano oil is able to “disrupt the viral envelope.” The oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and used as a topical application.

As a Treatment for Cough and Bronchitis

Oregano oil has expectorant action that can thin mucus and phlegm to relieve the discomforts of cough and bronchitis. Its antiviral properties also alleviate hacking cough caused mainly by virus infection in the throat and larynx. The oil can be used as a topical rub or inhaled in steam.

As a Treatment for Colds and Flu

One of oregano oil’s many health benefits is its capability to treat upper respiratory infections like colds and flu. Research has shown that oil of oregano can kill Staphylococcus aureus, a known cause of upper respiratory tract infections. The components carvacrol and thymol are also anti-inflammatory and can help ease congestion of the air passages and clear blocked sinuses. The oil can be taken sublingually, inhaled directly, or through steam inhalation.

As a Treatment for Candidiasis

Candidiasis occurs when Candida, a fungus that lives inside humans, reach an abnormal growth level and create various troubles in the body. Candida overgrowth symptoms include vaginal yeast infections, thick white coating on the tongue, and others. Compared to commercially-sold anti-fungal drugs, oregano oil is a tougher and safer solution in fighting infections like Candidiasis, Aspergillus mold, and yeast organisms. It can be taken sublingually or applied topically. This topic is covered fully in How To Use Oregano Oil To Treat Candida.

As a Treatment for Acne

Oregano oil is particularly effective against cystic acne. The oil’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties produce great results by eliminating the acne-causing bacteria, thanks to its active component carvacrol. It can also reduce inflammation and dry out the lesions. The strong components in oregano oil can burn the skin, so test a small amount on your skin first. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs.

As a Treatment for Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis) and Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)

Onychomycosis is a stubborn toenail disease that can stay on for a long time. If creams and other expensive therapies didn’t work, then oregano oil is the solution you’ve been waiting for. It fungus-fighting properties can stop all fungal growths on the foot like toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. Can be used as a foot wash or as a nail application. Read our full article on treating toenail fungus with oregano oil.

As a Treatment for Warts

Warts are stubborn and unsightly growths that can affect any area of the body. They are caused by the Human Papillomavirus Virus or HPV and can be painful as in the case of plantar warts under the feet. The carvacrol in oregano oil can help burn off these warts effectively. The oil can be used with carrier oils as a topical application.

As a Treatment for Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal problems can be caused by gas, excess acid, bacterial infection, indigestion, and others. Oregano can effectively destroy even tough strains of E. coli and salmonella bacteria that are the cause of food poisoning. It relieves indigestion by inducing the release of gastric juices and bile to hasten the digestive process. It can be taken with tea after meals.

As a Treatment for Ear Infections

An ear infection can be a painful condition when the middle ear becomes blocked due to excess fluid build-up. This can be caused by bacterial or virus infection, swollen adenoid glands, allergies, and sinus blockages. Used as a topical application, oregano oil’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties help lessen the pain and throbbing caused by the infection.

Heals Skin Diseases

The use of oregano oil as an external topical application can benefit individuals suffering from skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, acne, candidiasis, rosacea, and others. Since undiluted oregano oil can cause skin irritation when used full strength, it is advised to thin it first with carrier oils like coconut, almond, or olive oil. See Oregano Oil For Eczema for further information.

Provides Relief From Allergies

Oregano oil has natural anti-inflammatory and mild analgesic properties that act as an antihistamine or anti-allergenic. This can help diminish the body’s reaction to such allergens like mold, dust, pollen, and other potential triggers that can bring about the discomforts of allergy. Carvacrol and rosmarinic acid in oregano oil are natural antihistamines that can help relieve as well as treat allergic reactions. Steam inhalation can help clear the air passages by reducing inflammation and loosening mucus.

Helps Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis and Muscle and Joint Pain

Oregano oil is a natural pain-killer. With its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, oregano oil can permeate the skin surface and go deep into the affected joints to relieve the pain and swelling and help re-establish normal mobility. The oil also works well with tired and sore muscles, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and antispasmodic action. Oregano oil is best used as a topical application.

Helps Fix Women’s Health Issues

As a natural emenagogue, oregano oil can help regulate monthly periods for women suffering from irregular menstrual flow. What’s more, it can also push back the onset of menopause and relieve its unpleasant symptoms like abrupt mood swings and hormonal imbalance. Since it can induce uterine contractions, it is best not to use it during pregnancy. It can be taken with tea or applied topically.

Slows Down the Aging Process

Apart from the toxins and oxidation that affect the body’s condition, there are free radicals that are responsible for muscular degeneration, nervous disorders, wrinkles, and other factors that hasten the aging process. The powerful antioxidant components in oil of oregano protect the body from free radicals and oxidation damage that speed up the aging process. It can be used with carrier oils as a topical cream.

As a Treatment for Parasitic Infections

The natural anti-parasitic ingredients in oregano oil are effective deterrents against parasite-borne infections. A recent study revealed that the oil can destroy the norovirus which causes stomach flu and gastroenteritis. It has also been found to be beneficial against food-borne microorganisms like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. It can be taken with liquids, sublingually, or as a skin application.

Boosts Your Body’s Immune System

Oil of oregano’s capability to strengthen your body’s immune system can protect you from easily catching bacteria and virus-borne sickness. It also carries powerful antioxidants to combat free radicals, as well as parasite-fighting properties to rid the body of parasitic attacks that can cause a lot of health issues. Oregano oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and taken sublingually or used in a diffuser.

Promotes Oral Health

The thymol in oregano oil is one of the primary ingredients in commercial mouthwashes that is advertised to prevent bad breath, plaque, and gum disease. As an active component in oregano oil, thymol is an effective anti-fungal and antibacterial agent to stop bad breath and prevent gingivitis. The oil can be added to toothpaste or added to water as a mouthwash.

As a Treatment for Dandruff

Dandruff is a fungal infection that causes dryness, flaking, and itchiness of the scalp. Oregano oil is a natural anti-fungal that helps fight dandruff, yeast, and other fungal infections. A few drops of oregano oil can be added to your favorite shampoo. It can also be mixed with tea tree oil and rubbed into the scalp.

As a Possible Prevention of Cancer

The phenols in oregano oil can neutralize free radicals and repair the damages brought about by oxidation and toxins in the system. It has the capability to delay the aging process and protect the body from certain forms of cancer and other disorders associated with premature aging, as well as damages caused by free radicals.

Can Be Used for Pet Care

Oregano can be used as a treatment for fungal, parasitic, and skin infections in pets like cats and dogs. It has also shown efficacy in treating canine arthritis. For skin diseases like ringworm, apply the diluted oil in areas where the fur has been lost. For arthritis, apply the same oil blend on the affected area. Oregano oil diluted in a gallon of water can make a great final rinse for your pet bath.

Can Be Used to Ward Off Insects

A study done in 2005 showed that oregano oil’s active components, carvacrol, and thymol, are actually effective in warding off mosquitoes. It is a much safer substitute for stronger insect sprays that contain DEET, which raise a lot of health issues. Even growing oregano in your garden can help repel various pests. The oil can be mixed with water and used as an insect spray. Mixed with dishwashing liquid, it can be used as a natural pesticide.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Oregano Oil?

While oregano oil offers a lot of healing benefits, it may also come with some unwelcome and potentially toxic side effects. This occurs as a result of high doses of the oil or if the individual has allergic reactions to oregano oil. Thus, it should be taken as directed in the recommended medicinal amount. There are also certain individuals who should not use oil of oregano (see the following section below). Here is a list of oregano oil side effects that you should be aware of:

  • It may impede the absorption of iron
  • It can trigger allergic reactions
  • It can cause high blood toxicity
  • It may thin your blood
  • It can cause miscarriage
  • It may put an unborn child at risk
  • It could cause inflammation
  • It may cause an upset stomach
  • It may bring down your blood sugar levels
  • It may release toxic materials into your bloodstream For more detailed information about these side effects, please read our article “Possible Side Effects Of Oregano Oil”.

People Who Should Not Use Oregano Oil

Because oregano oil may carry some rather unpleasant side effects, here are the individuals who may be at risk of using this oil.

Pregnant Women

Oregano oil may block iron, the most important mineral needed by pregnant women for nourishment. Oregano oil can also stimulate blood circulation inside the womb. Both mom and unborn child may be in danger as the amniotic sac that covers the fetus may weaken due to the increased blood flow. Oil of oregano can be a potential cause of miscarriage if its period-inducing hormone is stimulated.

Individuals Suffering from Anemia

Just like pregnant women, persons suffering from anemia need iron to promote red blood cell production. Oregano oil has a tendency to hinder the body’s iron absorption which could produce harmful results.

Persons Using Blood Thinners

Oregano oil prevents the clotting of blood and may produce uncontrolled bleeding and other complications. Individuals taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin are advised against using oregano oil.

Persons Prone to Allergic Reactions

People who are allergic to plants belonging to the Lamiaceae family (mint, basil, sage, thyme, etc.) are likely to be hypersensitive to oregano oil.

People Suffering from Hypoglycemia

Oregano oil can make blood sugar plummet to dangerously low levels when taken in high doses. Diabetics should consider this information before using the oil of oregano.

Individuals With Sensitive Skin

When oregano oil is used as a topical application, individuals with sensitive skin may still experience skin irritation and inflammation, even if they have no known allergic reaction to oregano or any of its by-products. One solution to this problem is to dilute a prescribed amount of oregano oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil.

Persons Who Need to Go Into Surgery

The use of oregano oil should be stopped at least 2 weeks before undergoing any form of surgery to prevent the risk of bleeding and other complications. For more detailed information, please read our article “Possible Side Effects Of Oregano Oil”.

What is P73 Oregano Oil?

P73 stands for polyphenol 73%, which is found in a particular high-grade blend of therapeutic wild oregano. It is a powerful germ-killer and an abundant source of organic vitamins and minerals. P73 oregano oil is loaded with more antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals and the damages they create. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it far more superior to commercially-marketed drugs. The healing properties of P73 make it an effective natural remedy for various disorders.

How to Choose the Right Oregano Oil for You

You would naturally want the best value for your money, especially when buying natural oil of oregano. Be forewarned, however, that not all oregano oil manufacturers are out there to offer you quality products. You might end up with a cheap imitation or a totally ineffective product. There are some things you need to bring into consideration as you go shopping for the best brand of oregano oil.

What plant was the oil taken from?

The oil’s plant source is one of the main factors for your choice. You should also ask yourself questions like: • What is the oregano plant’s country of origin? • Was the plant raised organically? • When was the plant harvested? • What is the extraction process used? The best quality oregano oil comes from plants grown in the Mediterranean. There are also oil extracted from plants harvested in Spain, Mexico, Asia, and elsewhere. Although the wild oregano (Origanum vulgare) of the Mediterranean has been found to be the best source of essential oil, comparative studies have shown evidence that other oregano oil sources can be effective, too.

How pure is the oil?

Oil of oregano with high purity is of excellent quality. High-quality oil still retains more active ingredients after the oil extraction process. Do not purchase oils that use alcohol and solvents during extraction. Instead, choose raw and unprocessed, undiluted and steam-distilled oil of oregano.

How much carvacrol is present in the oil?

Many people think that carvacrol is the only thing that matters most in oregano oil. While it is surely an essential component, there are other equally important active ingredients, like eugenol and thymol, that work in synergy with carvacrol to fight microorganisms the cause diseases. Carvacrol content is one price determinants in the sale of oregano oil. The amount of carvacrol content varies from 50 to 85 percent in most popular oregano oil brands.

Word of Advice

Because of oregano oil’s strong properties, its therapeutic use should only be administered under the expert counseling of a medical professional. Oil of oregano does not come in a fixed formulation. What may have proved effective for other individuals may just not work for you. Since people are unique in their biochemistry, you first need to determine which type of oregano oil suits you best. Pay attention to how your body reacts to it and be aware of any side effects. Only then will you find your own personal blend that produces the most desirable results.