Oregano can be a tasty addition to a pizza or any Italian dish, but did you know that the oil of oregano that is extracted from this herb can have positive effects on your immune system, too?
In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic and as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments. Current healthcare practitioners use oregano extract for its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Oregano oil has so many benefits that it is probably a good herb to have around the house. Here are a few reasons why.
Health Benefits of Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano contains two phenols called carvacrol and thymol, which have strong antimicrobial properties. A 2004 study demonstrated that oil of oregano showed antibacterial properties against 27 different bacteria (including salmonella, E. coli, and two staphylococcus species, some of the most common bacteria that cause gastrointestinal illnesses) and antiviral properties against the herpes virus (responsible for cold sores, chicken pox and shingles), as well as antifungal properties against 18 different types of fungus.
Oregano oil is perhaps nature’s strongest fungal fighter. Candida albicans causes candidiasis, a common human fungal infection, and oregano oil has been found to completely inhibit the growth of C. albicans in culture.
Another study found that essential oils of tea tree, oregano and rose geranium have a synergistic antifungal effect against 11 candida strains, especially when combined with Amphotericin B, a drug used to treat systemic fungal infections.
Oil of oregano has several other useful applications that make it a must-have around the house. Containing compounds called terpenes, which have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, oregano oil can be used topically on cuts to prevent infections, on gums to help reduce pain, as well as on fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.
A 2019 study investigated the antiviral properties of an essential oil blend of oregano, thyme and salvia. The researchers tested the effectiveness of the oil blend against respiratory tract viruses and found strong antiviral activity against rhinovirus, and two out of three strains of influenza.
There are a few important aspects of oregano oil that you should consider before taking it. Not all oil of oregano products are created equally. Pathway Oregano Oil is standardized to 70% carvacrol and contains a full spectrum of the naturally occurring compounds found in oregano. Wild Mediterranean oregano oil from the Origanum vulgare species in a base of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is used.
Oil of oregano is also available in tincture and capsule form to take orally. It is also available as an essential oil. Essential oils should only be used in a diffuser or topically along with a carrier oil.
And although oregano oil is natural, it is still wise to consult your health care practitioner before using it and to determine correct dosages. If you have an allergy to any herbs in the mint family, which includes thyme, basil, mint and sage, you may also have a sensitivity to oil of oregano, since it belongs to the same plant family.
Photo from here, with thanks.