The pros and cons of using oregano oil

By Kalyan Ajayakumar

Oregano is a flavourful herb that is most commonly used in Italian cuisine. But, it may also be extracted into an essential oil that is brimming with potent chemicals and antioxidants and has been shown to have positive effects on health. The extract is called oregano oil, and while being less potent than the essential oil, it seems to have health benefits whether applied topically or eaten. On the other hand, essential oils are not designed to be ingested. It’s interesting to note that oregano oil works well as a natural antibacterial and antifungal, and it may also aid in weight loss and cholesterol-lowering. In this article, we will look at oregano oil’s health benefits and side effects. 

Oregano Oil

The herb oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a member of the mint family (Labiatae). In folk medicines that have their roots all over the world, it has been valued as a precious plant resource for more than 2,500 years. It has a very long history of use in conventional medicine for treating indigestion, upset stomachs, and colds. Although oregano is one of the best herbs for healing, and you may have some experience cooking with fresh or dried oregano leaves, oregano essential oil is not something you would use in pizza sauce, for upset stomachs, or for colds. Although oregano is one of the best herbs for healing, and you may have some experience cooking with fresh or dried oregano leaves, oregano essential oil is not something you would use in pizza sauce.

The medicinal grade oregano, which grows in the Mediterranean, throughout much of Europe, and in South and Central Asia, is distilled to obtain the essential oil, which contains a significant amount of the herb’s active ingredients. In actuality, more than 1,000 pounds of wild oregano are required to make just one pound of oregano essential oil. The active components of the oil are preserved in alcohol and used topically (on the skin) and internally in essential oil form. Oregano is frequently referred to as the “oil of oregano” when it is made into a supplement for health or essential oil. As was already mentioned, oregano oil is regarded as a safe, natural substitute for antibiotics. Carvacrol and thymol, two potent compounds found in the oil of oregano, have both been shown in studies to have potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. Carvacrol is the main component of oregano oil, but research indicates that the plant’s leaves also contain phenols, triterpenes, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid, and oleanolic acid, among other antioxidant substances.

Oregano oil has been proven to possess the following qualities, according to studies, even though more investigation is still needed into its health advantages.

  • Antimicrobial.
  • Antiviral.
  • Antifungal.
  • Antioxidant.
  • Anti-inflammatory. 
  • Antidiabetic. 
  • Cancer Suppressant.

Nutrition Information 

The following is in one teaspoon of dried oregano leaves:

  • Calories: 2.65
  • Protein: 0.09 gram
  • Fat: 0.04 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 0.69 gram
  • Fiber: 0.42 gram
  • Sugar: 0.04 gram

An excellent source of:

Ø Iron

Vitamin K is another great antioxidant found in oregano. Vitamin K is critical for maintaining healthy bones and controlling blood sugar, according to studies. 

Antioxidants, which are also present in oregano oil, help prevent free radicals from harming your cells and developing into serious illnesses like cancer.

Benefits of Oregano Oil

There are several potential health advantages to using oregano oil, according to research:

A Natural Alternative to Antibiotics

Why is overusing antibiotics problematic? Because broad-spectrum antibiotics also kill healthy bacteria that are essential for good health, in addition to the bacteria that cause infections, they can be harmful. The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article in 2013 that highlighted the risks that patients may experience if they use antibiotics frequently. According to the author, recent studies have revealed that doctors frequently overprescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics, also known as “the big guns,” which are known to kill a variety of both beneficial and detrimental bacteria in the body.

When broad-spectrum medications are prescribed, they can lead to a variety of issues. It can encourage the development of infections that are resistant to antibiotics, decreasing the effectiveness of the drugs used to treat those bacteria, and it can eradicate the good bacteria in the body (probiotics), which, among other things, aid in digestion, produce vitamins, and guard against infections. Unfortunately, broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently prescribed for conditions for which they are ineffective, such as viral infections. Researchers from the University of Utah and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 60% of the time when doctors prescribe antibiotics, they choose broad-spectrum types, according to a study that was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Similar research on children found that broad-spectrum antibiotics were prescribed 50% of the time, mostly for respiratory conditions, and were published in the journal Pediatrics. What does the oil of oregano do for you, on the other hand, that makes it so advantageous? Taking oregano oil is essentially a “broad-spectrum approach” to maintaining your health. Bacteria, yeast, and fungi are just a few of the harmful pathogens that its active ingredients work to combat. Oregano oils “represent an affordable source of natural antibacterial substances that exhibit potential for use in pathogenic systems,” according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Fights bacterial overgrowth and infections

The good news about using less-than-ideal antibiotics is this: There is proof that essential oregano oil can help combat at least a few bacterial strains that cause illnesses and are frequently treated with antibiotics.

The benefits of oregano oil for these conditions are highlighted in the following ways:

  • Oregano oil can be used in place of harmful antibiotics for a variety of health issues, according to dozens of studies.
  • A study evaluating the antibacterial efficacy of oregano oil against five different types of harmful bacteria was published in the 2011’s Journal of Medicinal Food. Oil of oregano demonstrated significant antibacterial properties against all five species after being evaluated for its antibacterial qualities. The most potent activity was seen against E. coli, indicating that oregano oil may one day be regularly used to support digestive health and avert fatal food poisoning.
  • Oregano oil vulgare extracts and essential oils of Portuguese origin are strong candidates to replace synthetic chemicals used by the industry, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Researchers from the study discovered that Origanum vulgare, which has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, was able to stop the growth of seven tested bacterial strains in a way that other plant extracts could not.
  • Impressive outcomes were also found in a mouse study that was published in the journal Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. Researchers discovered evidence that oregano oil might be able to aid pathogenic fungi in addition to fighting bacteria like listeria and E. coli.
  • According to additional research, the active ingredients in oregano oil, like thymol and carvacrol, can relieve bacterial infections that cause toothaches and earaches. Essential oils or their components inserted into the ear canal can effectively treat acute otitis media, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Reduces the side effects of drugs and/or medications 

One of the most promising oregano oil benefits, according to numerous studies conducted in recent years, is its ability to lessen drug/medication side effects. These studies give hope to people who are trying to find a way to manage the terrible suffering that comes along with medications and medical procedures like chemotherapy or the use of medications for long-term conditions like arthritis. According to a study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, the phenols in the oil of oregano can help shield mice from the toxic effects of methotrexate. 

The drug methotrexate (MTX) is frequently prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, but it is also well known to have harmful side effects. Researchers believe oregano’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for the oil’s ability to keep these factors at bay. It has been demonstrated that oregano is more effective than medications at offering complete defence against the side effects of MTX.

For the first time, it was discovered that carvacrol decreased the pro-inflammatory response in mice receiving MTX treatment by examining different markers in the sciatic nerve of mice. There will probably be more studies testing these findings because they are a relatively new idea in the field of research and because “groundbreaking” doesn’t even begin to capture the significance of this potential oregano health benefit.

Oregano essential oil can “prevent bacterial overgrowth and colonisation in the large intestine during oral iron therapy,” according to research done in the Netherlands. Oral iron therapy, which is used to treat iron deficiency anaemia, is known to result in a number of gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn, and vomiting.

Carvacrol is thought to target the gram-negative bacteria’s outer membrane and increase membrane permeability, leading to the eradication of harmful bacteria. Carvacrol has antimicrobial qualities, but it also disrupts specific bacterial iron handling pathways, reducing the side effects of iron therapy.

Treatment for Athlete’s Foot

In one study, the bacterial strains T. rubrum and T. mentagrophytes, which frequently cause the fungal infection known as athlete’s foot, were inhibited by the use of heat, salt, and essential oils, including oregano. The researchers came to the conclusion that using salt, essential oils, and thermotherapy in a foot bath to treat tinea pedis would be promising. Oregano oil was discovered to be the most effective (followed by thyme, cinnamon bark, lemongrass, and clove) after testing the fungicidal activity of 11 essential oils against the bacteria known to cause athlete’s foot.

Treats digestive problems (including SIBO and heartburn)

By relaxing the muscles in the GI tract and balancing the amount of good to bad bacteria in the gut, a number of the active ingredients in Origanum vulgare can aid in digestion. Thymol, one of the active ingredients in oregano, is a substance related to menthol, which can be found in peppermint oil. Thymol, like menthol, may help relax the soft tissue in the throat and stomach, reducing GERD, heartburn, and post-meal discomfort. Oregano essential oil is also a well-liked all-natural treatment for candida and SIBO because it supports bacterial balance and combats yeast overgrowth.

Gas, bloating, and food intolerances are all symptoms of the common digestive condition SIBO (especially FODMAPs). Similar to antibiotics like rifaximin (Xifaxan), origanum vulgare prevents bacterial replication and can be used to treat infections that affect the digestive system and nutrient absorption.

According to a 2014 study that was published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, using herbal antimicrobials is just as effective as using conventional antibiotics to treat SIBO. Four weeks of treatment with either rifaximin (1,200 milligrammes) or herbal antimicrobials for 104 patients who had been diagnosed with SIBO (via lactulose breath test) revealed that 46 per cent of those who received the herbal antimicrobials saw symptom improvements compared to only 34 per cent of those who received the antibiotic rifaximin. In addition, herbal antimicrobials were used to treat 14 of the 44 patients who had SIBO despite taking rifaximin. Even after the antibiotics had failed to help, 57% of patients responded favourably to the herbal therapy.

Treatment for Parasites

In one study, it was discovered that taking 600 milligrammes of oregano daily for six weeks significantly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms in adults with positive stools for enteric parasites, such as Blastocystis hominis, which causes digestive distress. Entamoeba hartmanni (four cases), Endolimax nana (one case), and Blastocystis hominis (eight cases) all completely vanished, according to researchers. Seven of the 11 patients who tested positive for Blastocystis hominis, a parasite that frequently results in symptoms like nausea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, reported improvements in their gastrointestinal symptoms.

Effective for Managing Inflammatory Conditions (such as IBD or Rheumatism) 

Both in its fresh and dried forms, oregano maintains a potent antioxidant capacity. Oregano essential oil has been demonstrated to reduce oxidative damage and aid in preventing mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and ageing due to its free radical scavenging activities and high concentration of antioxidants.

Free radicals are thought to play a role in the development of several chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and drug toxicity. According to one study, combining the use of thyme and oregano essential oils reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which may have a protective effect against colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in mice.

According to additional research, oregano oil is effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, tumour growth, and recurring respiratory disorders. The essential oil from Origanum vulgare “presents antibacterial, antioxidant, and chemopreventive properties and could play an important role as a bioprotector agent,” according to research from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina.

It might help lower cholesterol levels

According to study findings in the Journal of International Medical Research, supplementing with oregano oil can lower cholesterol levels. 48 patients with mild hyperlipidemia were given low-fat dietary and lifestyle recommendations for the study. For a period of three months, 32 patients (the study group) were instructed to consume 25 millilitres of oregano distillate after each meal, while the other 16 patients served as the control group. After the three-month study period, the study group outperformed the control group in terms of both increases in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

A reduction in acne

Oregano oil’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce blemishes, which can make acne look better. Oregano oil, when applied topically, may be a safe and effective alternative to oral antibiotics, which have a number of possible side effects when used to treat acne.

It enhances gut wellness

Taking oregano oil can help bile flow into the digestive system. Thus, this aids in the digestive process. According to Amanda Frick, naturopathic physician and director of medical affairs for Thorne Research in South Carolina, oregano oil has the potential to help rebalance dysbiotic bacteria and fungi in the gut because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. The oil “is frequently tested in gut analyses for susceptibility to potentially pathogenic bacteria/fungi and may be effective against pathogens that may become resistant to antibiotics and antifungals,” the author claims. In other words, you may want to investigate oregano oil if you experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or other digestive problems.

Colds can be treated with oregano oil

According to Frick, oregano oil has additional benefits besides being antibacterial and antifungal. “It may be particularly effective against viruses that can affect the respiratory tract.” has been shown to be effective for some viruses. An effective trifecta against the cold and flu may combine analgesic, antioxidant, and antiviral effects.” Why? Thymol, a naturally occurring fungicide with antiseptic qualities, is present in oregano oil. As a result, it might defend against toxins. For instance, it works by assisting in the liquefaction or removal of mucus and phlegm that have accumulated in the respiratory tract. It can calm coughs because it is an anti-inflammatory.

Oregano oil keeps insects away

According to some research, this aromatic oil keeps bugs away. For instance, carvacrol, the primary active ingredient, might be helpful. It might deter bed bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, and lice. Oregano essential oil actually demonstrated greater potential as a bed bug repellent compound than 33% DEET, according to a 2018 Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases article. Therefore, the next time you’re at the store, you might want to avoid the brand names.

Oregano oil can prevent illness

Oregano oil may help prevent tumour growth, according to a 2017 study that was published in the European Journal of Nutrition. Researchers looked into the potential advantages of oregano oil for cancer models in a laboratory setting. “Discernible tumour-suppressive effect of oregano in the breast cancer model,” they reported. However, more research must be done. Therefore, before using essential oil therapies, talk to your doctor about them.

Oregano oil eases pain

Oregano oil might become your new best friend if you’re suffering from stiffness or pain in your muscles. According to Frick, compounds in oregano oil have shown promise in studies on animals. They have focused on its anti-inflammatory qualities. She explains that a decrease in inflammation may also result in a decrease in pain and stiffness. So, use oregano oil if you’re sore from a hard workout. First, combine equal amounts of oregano oil and olive oil. Apply topically to the affected area after that.

Skin is protection

Use oregano oil to hasten the healing of a bruise if you have one. Its anti-inflammatory properties might aid in easing discomfort and swelling. To hasten the healing process, apply the oil to the bruise. Bid adieu to ugly green-blue skin! 

Rashes are treated 

The resin from poison ivy that results in an itchy rash is broken down by oregano oil. That’s partly because of its anti-inflammatory qualities. They aid in reducing itching, redness, and swelling. Apply olive oil diluted with oregano. A poison ivy rash will be relieved by this mixture.

Allergies are aided by oregano oil

There may be all-natural relief from environmental allergy symptoms with oregano oil. Consequently, it might be the best option if you want to avoid medications. It acts as a natural antihistamine thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it can aid in lowering swelling and fluid retention brought on by allergy symptoms. According to Frick, oregano oil has been shown to alter how the immune system reacts to potential allergens and may help allergy sufferers by lessening symptoms like a runny nose. So it might be worthwhile to try oregano oil.

The essential oil might be effective in fighting extra weight. Carvacrol, the primary active ingredient, has been shown to alter weight gain. Additionally, it might even lower blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Frick adds that inflammation and weight gain have both been linked. It’s interesting that one physiological factor connected to weight gain is inflammation. As a result, oregano oil, which shows promise as an anti-inflammatory, may be useful. She also adduces that the oil may aid the body in reducing the generation of fresh fat cells.

Weight loss 

Side Effects of Oregano Oil

Given the strength of the ingredients in oregano oil, you should speak to your doctor before using it or any other dietary supplement. Before applying oregano oil topically or internally, take into account the following:


Oregano oil has a strong antimicrobial effect, but it can also be toxic to people. It may even be fatal if consumed in large doses. To reap the benefits of oregano, only use the recommended dosage. It requires more research to determine how toxic it is to people.

Skin Irritation

Even though oregano oil can treat some skin conditions, such as acne, it can irritate people with sensitive skin. Avoid putting undiluted oregano oil on your skin. Any oregano oil-containing product should be patch tested to ensure there are no side effects. There needs to be more investigation into how it affects human skin.

Pregnancy worries

There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of oregano oil on women who are pregnant or nursing. It is preferable to find a substitute if you are pregnant or nursing a child.

Interference with medication

If you already take a diuretic, stay away from oregano oil as it may exacerbate side effects. Oregano has natural diuretic properties, which means it might make lithium and similar drugs less effective.

How to Prepare Oregano Oil

You can buy oil oregano at almost any grocery or health food store. It’s also popular to make it at home using olive oil or another oil of your choice and oregano leaves.

These steps should be followed in order to make your own oregano oil at home:

Take your oregano leaves and chop them.

Put them in a glass jar, add the warmed oil, and combine everything.

Shake the jar about once per day while storing it for up to two weeks with the lid on. 

Strain the oil and throw away the leaves after two weeks. The now-infused oregano oil should be sealed, kept chilled, and used as needed. As you can see, it’s quick and simple to make your own oregano oil.

How to Apply

If the oregano oil is of therapeutic grade, it can be applied topically, diffused, or taken internally. The best oregano oil to buy is one that is 100 per cent pure, unfiltered, and USDA-certified organic. 

Oregano oil soft gels or capsules are another option for ingesting it.

Always combine oregano essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, before applying it to your skin. By diluting the oil, it helps lower the possibility of irritation and adverse reactions.

Apply it topically by rubbing it into the skin over the affected area after combining three drops of undiluted oregano oil with a small amount of your carrier oil.

Uses for oregano oil:
  • Natural antibiotic: Dilute it with a carrier oil, apply it topically to your feet’s soles, or take it internally for 10 days at a time before stopping.
  • Fight Candida and Fungal Overgrowth: You can make a homemade antifungal powder that you can apply to your skin to treat toenail fungus. Sprinkle the powder onto your feet after combining the ingredients with about 3 drops of oregano oil. Take 2 to 4 drops orally, twice daily, for up to 10 days.
  • Fight Bronchitis and Pneumonia: Apply 2 to 3 diluted drops to the affected area for external infections. Take 2 to 4 drops twice daily for up to 10 days to stop internal bacterial overgrowth. 
  • Add three drops of oregano oil, along with a carrier oil, to a capsule or to the food or beverage of your choice to fight MRSA and Staph infections. For up to 10 days, take it twice daily. 
  • Eat oregano oil for up to 10 days to combat intestinal worms and parasites. 
  • Wart removal assistance: Be sure to mix it with clay or dilute it with another oil. 
  • Cleanse Mold from the Home: Combine 5–7 drops of tea tree oil, lavender, and a homemade cleaning solution.

How much oregano oil should be consumed internally:

The condition you’re trying to treat will determine how much oregano oil you need. Oral supplementation with emulsified oregano in capsule form is typically 600 milligrammes per day. (Either taken in a single dose or twice.)

Making digestive-aid tea with oregano leaves is a traditional oregano use. To make your own oregano tea, steep 15 grammes of oregano leaves in 250 millilitres of water for at least five to ten minutes (or longer to make a stronger herbal infusion, up to 24 hours).

Ask your doctor if oregano oil is safe to take internally, depending on your particular situation, because it may interact with other medications.

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