You probably already enjoy oregano in all manner of Italian dishes. It has an earthy green flavor, just slightly minty and the tiniest bit bitter. Oregano complements a lot of foods, especially those including tomatoes. Oregano is native to Europe, but is now grown all over the world because it is so popular.
So you know that oregano is a well-loved herb for seasoning food, but did you know that is has also been used as medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans? They used it to treat asthma, psoriasis, skin infections, and coughs. Especially potent in the form of concentrated oil, oregano works because it packs a powerful punch of antioxidants and is also a natural antibiotic and antifungal agent.
Just three drops per dose can provide multiple health benefits, whether eaten or applied topically. But be aware that there are some warnings that go along with its use as well. Join us as we explore the amazing things that oregano oil can do for your body, as well as a few areas for caution.
1. Kill Bacteria
Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic due to its carvacrol content. Carvacrol is the most abundant phenol antioxidant found in oregano oil, and it is known to halt the growth of several different types of bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus is one notable example. Staph is really common and causes ailments including food poisoning and skin infections. But you don’t want to mess around with it – in extreme cases, Staph can be fatal.
Studies are beginning to look at the effects or oregano oil on Staph. In mice, 43% of infected animals given oregano oil and nothing else to treat their Staph survived longer than 30 days. That nearly matches the 50% survival rate of mice treated with antibiotics.
More research in humans in necessary, but it is an area of great promise because early studies suggest that oregano oil might also be effective against bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli that can become antibiotic resistant. The looming problem of antibiotic resistance should be taken seriously, as it threatens to make us all vulnerable to death from once curable diseases.
2. Lower Cholesterol
In conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes, the addition of oregano oil to your daily routine may help lower bad cholesterol numbers even further. One study found that people with mildly elevated cholesterol achieved lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol after taking 0.85 ounces of oregano oil after meals.
Researchers believe the credit goes once again to the carvacrol in oregano, as this is known to lower cholesterol in mice on a high-fat diet. Thymol is a natural antifungal in oregano that may also play a part; it supports the immune system and protects the body against toxins.
3. Pain Relief
Most of the research surrounding pain relief and oregano is from mouse and rat studies, but the results show that oregano oil works almost as well as the drugs fenoprofen and morphine. The larger the dose, the more potent the results. Though more research is needed, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that oregano can relieve pain in humans, too.
The antioxidant power of carvacrol and other compounds including rosmarinic acid are thought to be responsible for quelling inflammation and thereby reducing pain. Inflammation is an immune response that causes significant discomfort, which is why many commonly used OTC painkillers target it as a way to provide pain relief.
4. Disease Protection
The main function of antioxidants is to bind with free radicals that otherwise cause damage in the body. This type of damage causes problems at the cellular level, and can even alter our DNA! When cells are weakened by free radical damage, it leaves the body vulnerable to the development of many different diseases, including cancer.
Since free radicals are natural byproducts of metabolism, you can’t avoid them. But a daily dose of oregano oil can help ensure you get enough antioxidants in your diet to neutralize them. Oregano oil may do more than that, though. A few test tube studies have found that carvacrol can actually cause the death of cancer cells. It appears most promising in the treatment of breast, lung, and liver cancer.
5. Treat Fungal Infections
Oregano is a natural antibiotic that can kill bacteria, but it can also wipe out fungus. Yeast is one notable example. Yeast infections are often assumed to occur only in the vaginal region, but they can actually happen anywhere on the skin that is warm and moist, like armpits, mouth, and between skin folds. Generally yeast infections are uncomfortable but harmless; however, overgrowth of yeast is associated with gut problems including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Candida is the most common form of yeast and it is this that has been tested extensively with oregano oil. Test tube studies determined that the oil can knock out at least five different types of Candida. It was actually found to be more effective than any other essential oil in this regard. Once again, researchers attribute the benefit to carvacrol, as this compound has also been tested independently for its effect on Candida.
6. Lose Weight
Mouse studies indicate that due to its carvacrol content, oregano oil may help you shed excess pounds. When two groups of mice were fed either a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet with carvacrol added, the mice that took carvacrol gained less weight and body fat than those in the group that did not receive carvacrol. It appears that this powerful compound is actually able to reverse the chain of events that leads to new fat cells being formed.
It is important to remember that mice are different than people and that more research is necessary, but these results are promising. While oregano oil alone probably won’t cause the pounds to melt away, it can be an effective addition to diet and lifestyle changes aimed at losing weight.
Are you ready to try oregano oil? Luckily for you, it is available at most health food stores and online. You can also choose oregano oil capsules if you don’t like the taste of oregano but still want the benefits. And the benefits are many due to an antioxidant content that exceeds most fruits and vegetables!
Various brands of oregano oil will have different levels of potency, so be sure to read the label carefully before taking the supplement. There is no standard dose of oregano oil, but benefits start with as little as three drops. The oil may be added directly to food or drink if you plan to consume it. If, however, you are going to apply it to your skin, make sure to dilute it with 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil per drop of oregano oil.
If you currently take prescription medications, it is best to ask your doctor before beginning an oregano oil regimen. Oregano oil is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.