Oregano oil is a fragrant herb that is best known as an ingredient in Italian food. However, it can also be concentrated in an essential oil that is loaded with antioxidants and potent compounds that have proven beneficial to health. It seems to be useful both when consumed and when applied to the skin. Interestingly, it is an effective natural anti-fungal antibiotic, and it can also help you lose weight and reduce your cholesterol levels.
What is Oregano Oil?
Oregano oil comes from the leaves and buds of the oregano plant. Botanically known as Origanum vulgare, oregano is a flowering plant of the same family as mint. Although it is native to Europe, it now grows worldwide. Oregano has been popular since the Greeks and Romans who used it for medicinal purposes in ancient times. In fact, the name oregano comes from the Greek words “gold,” meaning mountain, and “desire,” meaning joy or pleasure. It is made by drying the leaves and shoots of the plant in the air. Once dried, the oil is extracted and concentrated by steam distillation. The oil contains compounds called phenols, terpenes and terpenoids, which have potent antioxidant properties and are responsible for their fragrance, some compounds are:
- Carvacrol: The most abundant phenol in the oil. It has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria.
- Thymol: A natural antifungal that can also support the immune system and protect against toxins.
- Rosmarinic Acid: A powerful antioxidant that helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
It is thought that these compounds are the basis of the many benefits of oregano in health. Here are nine potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.
1. Natural Antibiotic:
Oregano oil and the carvacrol it contains can help fight bacteria. Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria are one of the most common causes of infection. They cause diseases including food poisoning and skin infections. One study in particular examined whether it improved the survival of mice infected with Staphylococcus Aureus. Six of the 14 mice (43%) that received oregano oil lived more than 30 days, a survival rate almost as high as the survival rate 7 of 14 (50%) for mice that received normal antibiotics. Research has also shown that this oil can be effective against certain types of bacteria that may become resistant to antibiotics. This includes Pseudomonas Aeruginosa and E. Coli, which are the common causes of urinary tract and respiratory tract infections.
Summary: A study with mice found that oregano oil was almost as effective as normal antibiotics against common bacteria, although much more research is needed.
2. It Can Help Reduce Cholesterol:
Studies have shown that oregano oil can help reduce cholesterol. Thirty-two participants also received 0.85 ounces (25 ml) of oregano oil after each meal. After three months, those who received this had reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol, compared to those who received advice on diet and lifestyle. Carvacrol, the main compound of this oil, has also been shown to help reduce cholesterol in mice that were fed a high-fat diet for 10 weeks. Mice that received carvacrol along with the high-fat diet had significantly lower cholesterol at the end of 10 weeks, compared to those given only a high-fat diet.
“The cholesterol-lowering effect of oregano oil is believed to be due to carvacrol and thymol phenols”.
Summary: Oregano oil has been shown to reduce cholesterol in studies of people and mice with high cholesterol. It is believed that this is the result of the compounds carvacrol and thymol.
3. Powerful Antioxidant:
Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. It is believed that free radical damage plays a role in the aging and development of some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Free radicals are everywhere, and are a natural product of metabolism. However, they can accumulate in the body through exposure to various environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants. One study compared the antioxidant content in 39 commonly used herbs, and found that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants. It was found that oregano contained 3-30 times the levels of antioxidants compared to other herbs studied, which included thyme, marjoram and St. John’s wort. Gram per gram oregano also has 42 times more antioxidants than the antioxidant level of apples and four times more than that of blueberries. It is believed that this is mainly due to its rosmarinic acid content. Because this oil is very concentrated, you need much less oregano oil to get the same antioxidant benefits as you would get with fresh oregano.
Summary: Fresh oregano has a very high antioxidant content that is much higher than that of most fruits and vegetables, gram by gram. The antioxidant content is concentrated in oregano oil.
4. It Could Help Treat Yeast Infections:
Yeast is a type of fungus. It can be harmless, but overgrowth can result in intestinal problems and infections, such as thrush. The best known yeast is called Candida, which is the most common cause of yeast infections worldwide. In test tube studies, oregano oil has been found to be effective against five different types of Candida, such as those that cause infections in the mouth and vagina. In fact, it was more effective than any other essential oil tested. Test tube studies have also found that carvacrol, one of the main oregano oil compounds, is very effective against oral Candida. High levels of Candida yeast have also been associated with some intestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A test tube study demonstrates the efficacy of oregano oil in 16 different strains of Candida and concluded that oregano oil can be a good alternative treatment for Candida yeast infections. However, more research is needed.
Summary: In test tube studies, oregano oil has proven effective against the most common form of Candida yeast, reducing the risk against infections.
5. It can Improve Intestinal Health:
Oregano can benefit intestinal health in several ways. Intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, pain and swelling are common and can be caused by intestinal parasites. One study gave 600 mg of oregano oil to 14 people who had intestinal symptoms caused by parasites. After daily treatment for six weeks, all participants experienced a reduction in parasites, and 77% of people were completely cured. Participants also experienced a reduction in bowel symptoms and fatigue associated with symptoms. Oregano oil can also help protect against another common intestinal complaint known as “leaking intestine.” This happens when the intestinal wall is damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to pass into the bloodstream. In a study on pigs, this oil protected the intestinal wall from damage and prevented “leaks” from being created. It also reduced the number of E. coli bacteria in the intestine.
Summary: Oregano oil can benefit intestinal health by the death of intestinal parasites and protection against a leaking intestine.
6. May have Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
Inflammation in the body is related to a series of adverse health effects. Research has shown that oregano oil can reduce inflammation. One study found that oregano oil, along with thyme oil, reduced inflammatory markers in the blood in mice that had artificially induced colitis. Carvacrol, one of the key components in oregano oil, has also been linked to inflammation reduction. One study directly applied different concentrations of carvacrol to the swollen legs or ears of the mice. Carvacrol reduced swelling of the leg by 35-61% and swelling of the ear by 33-43%.
Summary: Oregano oil may help reduce inflammation in mice, although human studies are necessary.
7. Could Help Relieve Pain:
Oregano oil has been investigated for its analgesic properties. A study in mice tested standard painkillers and essential oils, including oregano oil, for their ability to relieve pain. It was found that it significantly reduces pain in mice, with effects similar to the commonly used analgesics fenoprofen and morphine. The research proposes that these results were probably due to the content of carvacrol in this oil. A similar study found that oregano oil not only reduced the pain in mice, but that the response was dose dependent. That is, the more this oil the mice consumed, the less pain they seemed to feel.
Summary: Oregano oil can significantly reduce pain in mice, having similar analgesic effects as some commonly used medications.
8. May have Anti-Cancer Properties:
Some studies have indicated that carvacrol, one of the oregano oil compounds, may have anti-cancer properties. In studies on cancer cells in test tubes, carvacrol has shown promising results against lung, liver and breast cancer cells. It has been found to prevent cell growth causing the death of cancer cells. Although this research is promising, there has been no study done on people, so more research is needed.
Summary: Preliminary studies have shown that the most abundant compound in oregano oil, carvacrol, prohibits growth and causes cell death of lung, liver and breast cancer cells.
9. It can Help You Lose Weight:
Thanks to the carvacrol content of oregano oil, it can help with weight loss. In one study, mice were fed a normal diet, a high fat diet and a high fat diet with carvacrol. Those who received carvacrol along with their high-fat diet gained significantly less weight and body fat compared to those who received a high-fat diet. In addition, carvacrol seemed to reverse the chain of events that can lead to the formation of fat cells. More research is needed to show that this oil has an important role in weight loss, but it may be worth a try as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Summary: Oregano oil may be beneficial for weight loss through the action of carvacrol, although human studies are necessary.
How to Use Oregano Oil?
Oregano oil is available as a bottled or capsule-shaped liquid oil. It can be purchased at most health food stores or online. It is generally cheaper as oil than in the form of the capsule, although the capsules may be useful if you don’t like the taste of oregano. Because the intensities of the oils and capsules vary, it is important to read the instructions in the individual package to obtain knowledge on how to use the product. It can be applied to the skin or taken orally, depending on the condition being treated; however, the oil should always be diluted. There is no documented standard effective dose of oregano oil, but here is a guide to how to use it:
- On the skin: In case of skin conditions or infections, dilute with olive oil to a concentration of 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of olive oil per drop of oregano oil, then apply on the affected area.
- Under the tongue: Dilute with olive oil in a proportion of a drop of this oil to a drop of olive oil. Place 1-3 drops of this dilution under the tongue, keep there for a few minutes and rinse your mouth with Water.
- Drink: If you are taking this oil by mouth, you can add a few drops of oregano oil in a cup (237 ml) of water, gargle and then ingest.
If you are interested in taking this oil, but are currently taking prescription medications, be sure to consult your doctor before starting. In addition, it is generally not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Summary: Oregano oil is available as a liquid or in a capsule form. It can be applied directly to an area, dropped under the tongue or drunk, but should always be diluted before use.
Oregano oil is relatively cheap and easily available in both liquid and capsule form. It is higher in antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, and is full of powerful compounds called phenols. Oregano oil can be effective against bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation and pain, among other discomforts. In general, it seems to have several health benefits and can be useful as a natural treatment for some common health complaints.