The first thing you need to know about oil of oregano is that its many benefits pack a whole lot of ‘anti’s’ in its health-inducing arsenal. It is an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, anti-allergenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory essential oil that is extracted from oregano leaves.
For you epicureans out there, the word ‘oregano’ should have a familiar ring to it; it’s a fragrant herb often used to help flavor Italian food, per healthline.com. Its other uses in the kitchen and on dining tables include being used in sauces and as a marinade for meats, per medicalnewstoday.com.
Oregano or origanum vulgare, is a flowering plant that comes from the same family as mint. While it is native to Europe, it can now be found in most parts of the world. Oil of oregano is manufactured by air-drying the plant’s shoots and leaves, after which the oil is extracted and then concentrated through a process that involves steam distillation.
What’s in Oil of Oregano?
The oil’s pleasant fragrance emanates from its compounds, which include terpenes, terpenoids, and phenols that are responsible for the powerful antioxidant properties. More specifically, per healthline.com, oregano’s most active ingredients include carvacrol and thymol. Carvacrol, a phenol that has demonstrated antimicrobial properties, the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria; thymol, an anti-fungal that supports your immune system, guards your body from toxins, and helps fight fungal infections ; and rosmarinic acid, a robust antioxidant that combats the potentially damaging effects of free radicals.
9 Health Benefits of Oil of Oregano
Oregano essential oil can be either ingested orally or applied to the skin via a carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil), depending on which health benefit you seek. Following are nine of the potential health benefits provided by oregano oil. Keep in mind it would make sense to have a discussion with your physician and review side effects and discuss potential allergic reactions before doing a deep dive on using the oil. Such consultation is especially recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding:
- Antibiotic. The carvacrol found in oil of oregano is the oil’s primary bacteria fighter. One study published, cited at healthline.com, involved mice exposed to a type of bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus, which can cause illnesses related to food poisoning or skin infections. Six of the 14 mice infected and then treated with oil of oregano survived beyond 30 days, compared to seven of the 14 mice surviving beyond 30 days after receiving regular antibiotics.
- Antioxidant. Oil of oregano’s potent antioxidant characteristics have been shown to be three to 30 times stronger than those of other popular herbs, such as thyme and marjoram, per healthline.com. That puts the oil at or near the top of the class when it comes to fighting free radicals, which are known to be linked to heart disease.
- Enhance gut health. Not only has oil of oregano shown an apparent ability to thwart the growth of harmful gut parasites, it can also reduce your chances of gastrointestinal distress and a leaky gut.
- Treat allergy symptoms. Oil of oregano’s anti-inflammatory properties come into play here, working to settle allergy symptoms such as skin reactions (rash, eczema, etc.) and wheezing, per facty.com.
- Reduce cholesterol. A study cited at healthline.com involved 48 female subjects with mildly high cholesterol, who were given diet and lifestyle advice to reduce cholesterol. Thirty-two of them were also given 0.85 ounces of oil of oregano after each meal, with this latter group showing comparatively higher levels of “good” (HDL) and lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol after three months.
- Anti-inflammatory. Numerous studies have indicated that oil of oregano used as an anti-inflammatory can decrease swelling, redness, and pain associated conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, per facty.com.
- Treat respiratory conditions. Per organicfacts.net, oil of oregano can act as an expectorant, loosening and even expelling phlegm and mucus that can clog respiratory tracts and sinuses, such as during a cold.
- Regulate menstruation. Oil of oregano is also known as an emmenagogue; it can regulate menstruation and alleviate symptoms associated with oncoming menopause, such as imbalances in mood and shifts in hormones.
- Enhance digestion. According to organicfacts.net, a 2010 study revealed that oil of oregano can enhance the body’s digestion by boosting the secretion of digestive juices.