Oregano, botanically known as Origanumvulgare, is a fragrant flowering plant from the same family as mint. It is most known as a dried culinary herb added to Italian food. However, the plant itself has a lot of medicinal benefits. When concentrated into an essential oil, oregano is loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds with proven health benefits.
Oregano oil comes from the leaves and shoots of the oregano plant. It’s made by air-drying the leaves and shoots and extracting the oil, concentrated by steam distillation. The oil contains these essential compounds responsible for its medicinal benefits:
- Carvacrol – It’s the natural antibiotic content in oregano oil. The most abundant phenol in oregano oil, carvacrol is shown to stop the growth of different kinds of bacteria.
- Thymol – It’s a natural antifungal that can protect the body against toxins and support the immune system.
- Rosmarinic acid – It’s the antioxidant content of oregano oil that helps protect cells against damage caused by free radicals.
How to Use Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is available as a bottled liquid oil form or capsule form. Oil is usually cheaper than capsules, though capsules can be better if you don’t like the taste of oregano.
Here’s a guide on how to use oregano oil:
- Applied topically on the skin – For skin infections and conditions, dilute oregano oil with olive oil or coconut oil at a concentration of 1 teaspoon of carrier oil per drop of oregano oil. Then, apply it to the affected area. This can help treat acne, canker sores, psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot, rosacea, varicose veins, cold sores, and warts.
- Absorbed under the tongue – For taking oregano oil sublingually, dilute a drop of oregano oil to a drop of carrier oil. Place 1-3 drops of this mixture under the tongue. Hold it there for a few minutes, then flush it with water.
- Swallowed – For taking oregano oil orally, put a few drops of it to a cup of water. Gargle and swallow. This is effective for problems like respiratory illnesses, indigestion, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Inhaled as vapor – For colds, sinus, and chest congestions, oregano oil can be steamed as a vapor to be inhaled. Put one or two drops of oregano oil in a vaporizer or a bowl of steaming water, and inhale.
If you’re thinking of taking oregano oil, but you’re currently taking prescription meds, make sure to consult it first with your doctor. Also, oregano oil is not recommended for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Benefits of Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is an excellent immune system supporter. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-viral, antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal (the list goes on!) properties.
These are the potential benefits and applications of oregano oil:
1. Acts as a natural antibiotic
The carvacrol in oregano oil can help fight bacteria. One of the most common causes of infection is Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, causing ailments like skin infections and food poisoning. Research has found that oregano oil can be taken to combat this bacteria, as well as others that can become resistant to antibiotics like E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which ware common causes of the respiratory tract and urinary tract infections.
For conditions that need the use of antibiotics, take 3-5 drops of oregano oil 1-2 times daily for ten days. You can also apply a few drops of oregano oil over the abdomen or to the soles of the feet.
2. Treats respiratory infections
Many natural respiratory remedies contain oregano as an important ingredient. It’s both used internally and externally to treat colds, flu, asthma, and bronchitis. It also reduces inflammation caused by allergens. You can either make an oregano vapor to clear up a clogged and runny nose or take it orally. If you suffer from bronchitis or a sinus infection, take three drops of oregano oil twice a day for up to 10 days. You can also massage oregano oil unto the chest to help relieve ailments.
3. Works as a powerful antioxidant
Fresh oregano has a very high level of antioxidants – much higher than most fruits and vegetables. In oregano oil, it gets concentrated. It is found that oregano has 42 times the antioxidant levels of apples and four times that of blueberries (gram per gram), mostly due to its rosmarinic acid content.
Antioxidants are needed by the body, as it helps protect the body from damage caused by free radical and oxidative stress. Free radicals are everywhere, and free radical damage can cause aging and the development of some diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Oxidative stress leads to increased damage in DNA and cell death. The thymol and carvacrol in oregano are antioxidants that help reduce oxidation.
4. Fights bacterial infections
The high carvacrol levels in oregano oil allow it to fight certain types of bacteria and cure infections. Studies show that carvacrol is effective in fighting against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infection. Taking oregano oil supplements or applying it directly to the skin can bring antibacterial effects.
Oregano oil is also showing promise in treating chronic bacterial issues, like small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). A study found that herbal remedies, including those with high levels of both thymol and carvacrol, effectively treated SIBO.
5. Helps treat yeast and fungal infections
Yeast is a harmless type of fungus, but overgrowth can result in infections and gut problems. The most common type of infection-causing yeast is candida. The high levels of this yeast can cause infections in the mouth, vagina, and some gut problems like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Test tube studies have found that oregano oil is effective against five different types of candida yeast. The next time you get a yeast infection, try an oregano candida treatment.
It also appears to be an effective antifungal agent, thanks to its high levels of thymol. A study has found that thymol can be an effective treatment for common fungal infections caused by candida, like oral thrush, athlete’s foot, nail fungus, and more. When using essential oils, make sure to dilute it properly and test it first before fully applying to the affected area of the skin.
6. Helps lower cholesterol
Studies have found that oregano oil can also aid in lowering cholesterol levels. In a study involving people with high cholesterol, people who were given 25 mL of oregano oil after each meal reported having lower levels of (bad) LDL cholesterol and higher (good) HDL cholesterol after three months.
Researchers have found that the cholesterol-lowering effect of oregano is brought about by the phenols carvacrol and thymol.
7. Benefits gut health
Oregano can be beneficial for your digestive health in different ways. Gut symptoms like bloating, pain, and diarrhea are caused by gut parasites, which can be killed by oregano oil. This oil can also help protect against leaky gut, which happens when the gut wall gets damaged, allowing toxins and other bacteria to pass through the bloodstream. Research has found that oregano oil protected the gut wall from further damage while reducing the number of E. coli bacteria.
8. May reduce inflammation
Inflammation is linked to a number of different adverse effects on the body and causes various types of diseases. Oregano oil can also help in reducing inflammation in the body, thanks to carvacrol.
A study found that a combination of oregano oil and thyme oil shows promise in treating colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. Another study involving mice with swollen paws and ears found that different concentrations of carvacrol can reduce swelling. However, due to a lack of clinical trials, it’s not yet clear if oregano oils can truly be beneficial in treating colitis in humans.
9. Relieves pain
Oregano oil was also studied for its painkilling properties. An animal study found that standard essential oils, including oregano oil, has a capacity to relieve pain. It has found that it can significantly reduce pain in mice, with effects similar to morphine and fenoprofen, some commonly used painkillers.
Another study found that oregano oil did not only reduce pain but that the response was dependent on the dose. It means that the more oregano oil the animals took, the less pain they appeared to feel.
The natural warmth and anti-inflammatory properties of oregano oil make it a wonderful relief for body aches and pains, including menstrual pain. It can relieve dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea issues, helping blood to flow to the pelvic region and encourage uterine contractions to ease the menstrual flow.
For pain relief on the body, use your homemade oregano oil or mix essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it to the affected area. For painful period relief, mix 2-3 drops of homemade oregano oil to hot ginger tea and drink it. You can add more when you’re drinking chamomile tea.
10. Fights cancer
Some studies suggest that oregano oil may help fight some cancers. In studies on cancer cells in test tubes, the carvacrol compound demonstrated promising results against colon, liver, lung, and breast cancer cells. Oregano oil has also been found to inhibit the growth of some lung and prostate cancer cells. Studies have also shown that it can inhibit cancer cell growth and cause cancer cell death.
Although the research is promising, there have not been any studies conducted on humans, so more research is needed. Use it with caution and don’t rely on it as a replacement for medical treatment.
11. Aids in weight loss
Oregano oil is a helpful tool for people looking to lose weight. Research has shown that carvacrol has the ability to disrupt the process that leads to the accumulation and creation of fat tissue. Studies conducted in mice showed that mice given a high-fat diet with carvacrol gained significantly less weight and body fat than those who just received a high-fat diet.
More direct research is still needed to provide additional evidence for this area, but it may be worth trying as a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
12. Works as a natural insect repellent
Both thymol and carvacrol can be effective insect-repellants. One study found that these compounds help repel ticks and mosquitoes. There were test-tube studies and human studies to support this. You can also use oregano oil to get rid of head lice and control household pests. It can also keep insects and pests away from the plants in your garden.
To make an oregano insect repellant spray, place 25 drops of oregano oil and lemon essential oil in a spray bottle. Fill it up with water and shake well. Spray the mixture on surfaces like the insides of drawers and cabinets, and wipe dry.
13. Eases skin conditions
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial property of oregano oil can benefit people with psoriasis, eczema, candidiasis, and rosacea. However, make sure to blend it well with coconut, jojoba, or olive oil since oregano oil can be potent and naturally warming. Make sure to test it in a small part of the affected area first to make sure it’s safe for your skin.
14. Helps ease animal conditions
Oil of oregano is not only helpful for humans – it can benefit your pets and livestock as well. These are the ways you can use oregano oil for animals:
- Relieve skin conditions and kill external parasites – Oregano oil can be applied to areas where your pets lost fur due to mange, ringworm infections, or hotspots. But dilute it with carrier oils just as well. You can also use it as a rinse after bathing your dog to help in flea and skin parasite control. Simply blend a teaspoon of oregano oil with a gallon of tepid water.
- Remove intestinal worms in dogs – Add a drop or two of oregano oil to moist dog food to help kill intestinal parasites.
- Treat arthritis in dogs – Add several drops of oregano oil to cod liver oil or moist dog food to aid in treating dog arthritis.
- Replace antibiotics for chickens – Many organic farmers reject the use of antibiotics and use oregano oil instead. Add a few drops of oregano oil to poultry feed to keep the chicken strong and healthy, while avoiding chemical antibiotics.