The health benefits of oregano oil can be attributed to its long list of properties. It’s antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiviral. In more recent years, science has begun to explore the uses of the oil in controlled studies with promising results that support many of the medicinal uses involving oregano oil by people for centuries. The studies also help to introduce new ways that the oil can be used, both in daily life and in more serious conditions, paving the way for a bright future for oregano oil.
A study published by Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, focused on oregano oil and its ability to fight fungal infections, specifically against Candida, a yeast infection.
In a similar study published by Frontiers in Microbiology, the anti-fungal effect of oregano oil were examined in relationship to Aspergillus flavus in canned corn and soybeans. Both oregano oil and mentrasto were used on the corn and soy beans in an attempt to stop the growth of aflatoxin B1 from Aspergillus flavus, a toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxin that is produced in food. Both were effective in stopping the growth of the dangerous fungus, with the mentrasto being slightly more effective in soy beans.
A Georgetown researcher presented his findings regarding oregano oil and drug-resistant bacteria at the American College of Nutrition. The findings were based on two separate studies. Harry G. Preuss, professor of physiology and biophysics, tested oregano oil on staphylococcus bacteria. This specific strain of bacteria has been developing a resistance to many common antibiotics, making it harder to treat. Oregano oil was combined with bacteria in a test tube and then compared to other test tubes containing common antibiotics and the bacteria. The oregano oil was found to inhibit the growth of the bacteria just as well as common antibiotics.
The second portion of the study examined oregano oil’s main ingredient, carvacrol. In the animal study, 18 mice were infected with the staph bacteria. 6 of the mice were given oregano oil for a month and 50% of this group survived the treatment. 6 received carvacrol in olive oil, not oregano. None survived for more than 3 weeks. 6 mice received only olive oil and all died within 3 days. This study was conducted twice with similar results, concluding that carvacrol is most effective with the other compounds found in oregano oil.
Essential oils have been getting a lot of attention recently for their possible capability of treating cancer.
Several different studies have been conducted with promising results when oregano oil was used to target different types of cancer cells. Research conducted by professor of pharmacology at Long Island University, Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, showed that carvacrol, the main ingredient of oregano oil, showed positive results when tested against human prostate cancer cells. “We tested carvacrol in various concentrations and for different time periods against human prostate cancer cells and were excited to see the complete inhibition of cancer cells,” said Dr Bavadekar. This is exciting research considering that current cancer treatment have various negative side effects. Essential oils, including oregano, could hold the key that researchers have been searching for that could lead to the end of cancer.
A controlled study showed that when oregano oil was consumed daily for 6 weeks, it was effective at curing intestinal parasite infections in humans. The study included 14 participants who all tested positive for several different types of intestinal parasites. 13 out of the 14 participants experienced full elimination of the infections while 7 out of 11 also experienced improved gastrointestinal symptoms.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
In a controlled study involving 60 participants suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, including sore throats and congested lungs, patients were split into two groups, with one receiving treatment consisting of several essential oils, including oregano, while the other group received a placebo. 20 minutes after receiving the treatment, the patients who received the essential oil solution reported a greater improvement in symptom severity when compared to the participants who received the placebo. Oregano oil is classified as an expectorant, meaning that it can help the body rid itself of excess mucus.
Scientific research is lacking for the following conditions and their relationships with oregano oil. There are several success stories of people using the oil to treat these conditions but without scientific evidence, your success cannot be predicted or guaranteed for the following conditions.
- Indigestion and bloating
For some, taking oregano oil in a veggie capsule before a meal can prevent indigestion, gas and other digestive issues. One of the most common side effects of ingesting oregano oil is an upset stomach. Each individual will respond to consumption of oregano oil differently and is therefore not currently a scientific based treatment for indigestion.
- Painful menstrual periods
Oregano oil is often taken by women who suffer from painful and irregular periods. With a moderate success rate, this is one of the main reasons that pregnant women should avoid contact with oregano oil.
Oregano oil can help with pain from inflammation and other causes and is often used to treat a headache through topical application.
Oregano is part of the mint, or Lamiaceae family, which includes basil, lavender, hyssop, mint, marjoram and sage. If you have had allergic reactions in the past to any of these herbs, extreme caution should be taken when with oregano. If you have severe allergies to any of the herbs in the same family, oregano should be avoided.
Oregano oil may act as a diuretic and can interact with certain medications, including Lithium. Discuss oregano oil use with your doctor if you regularly take Lithium to see if your dosage needs to be adjusted.
People with certain medical conditions should use oregano oil with extreme caution or avoid all together. Individuals with bleeding disorders should avoid oregano oil because of its risk of increased bleeding. For this reason, oregano oil should also be avoided two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery. Oregano oil can reduce blood sugar levels and should be avoided in people diagnosed with diabetes.
As with any medication, speak to your doctor before treating yourself with oregano oil.