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Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) is a popular herb that comes from the aromatic, Lamiaceae plant family. With over 7,000 species, this plant family includes other culinary herbs such as mintbasilsagemarjoram, and lavender.1,12 The genus Origanum L. consists of 38 species of various herbs which can be grown year-round. Most varieties of oregano are native to North Africa, Europe, Asia and Eastern Mediterranean.

Oregano essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flower tops of the oregano plant through hydro or steam distillation. The resulting oil can range from a pale yellow to dark brown color, and is known for its sharp, spicy aroma.

Essential oils rich in carvacrol (such as oregano essential oil) are gaining increasing scientific attention for their antimicrobial and antioxidant activity.Oregano essential oil also shows promise in helping to reduce certain conditions such as yeast infections, chronic candidiasis and colitis.2,3,4,11

Oregano Essential Oil Uses

Oregano essential oil can be used in a diffuser to help decongest a stuffy nose. When combined with a carrier oil, oregano essential oil is thought to be helpful in various conditions—including to help relieve muscle aches, clear up nail fungus, relieve joint pain, and reduce or eliminate dandruff.

Aromatherapy
Bring the smell of Italian cooking to your home with oregano essential oil. Add 3-4 drops into a diffuser filled with water. Turn on, and let the aroma fill the space.

For a homemade diffuser, bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Pour the water into a bowl and add the oregano essential oil.

Massage
For muscle aches and joint pains, dilute oregano essential oil with a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed. Add 10 – 12 drops oregano essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil and rub into the affected areas of body. 

Natural Decongestant 
Due to its anti-inflammatory components, oregano essential oil may be helpful in reducing congestion and relieving a stuffy nose.5 In a bowl, add 2-4 drops of oregano essential oil to 2-3 cups of steaming water. With a towel placed on the back of your head, lean forward over the bowl, and inhale the vapors for several minutes.

Nail Fungus Remedy
Oregano essential oil has been noted for its antimicrobial and antifungal compounds, which may help reduce symptoms of toenail fungus. Add 5 drops of oregano essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil such as jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed oil. Apply directly onto affected areas twice daily. 

Hair Care 
Try adding 2-3 drops of oregano essential oil to 2 Tbsp. of unscented shampoo and/or conditioner to help naturally reduce the appearance of dandruff.

For a homemade, moisturizing hair mask, add 10-12 drops of oregano essential oil to 1 oz. of coconut oil. Apply directly to the scalp and hair and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse out for healthy looking hair. 

Benefits of Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil has traditionally been used to treat infections, inflammation, respiratory ailments, indigestion, symptoms of menopause and even intestinal worms. In recent years, science has begun to discover a range of beneficial properties that help explain some of these traditional, therapeutic uses.

Antimicrobial Activity
In a 2012 study, researchers tested the antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil against bacterial strains of Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and 20 strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause pneumonia or various infections.6,9 The data concluded that the oregano essential oil was active against all strains of E. coli and P. aeruginosa, although the E. coli was noted to be more responsive overall.6

While data is preliminary, it suggests that oregano essential oil contains antimicrobial properties which may be useful against the fight of drug-resistant bacteria.

Antifungal Properties
In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, 12 essential oils were tested for their antifungal activity against 30 isolated strains of Candida albicans, a fungus which can cause yeast infections.10,11 Of all the volatile oils, oregano and winter savory were the most effective, inhibiting the growth by 100% for all C. albicans strains.10

Oregano essential oil has also been shown to effectively inhibit the growth of C. albicans significantly more than calcium magnesium carpylate, the main ingredient in most commonly-used antifungal agents.7

Note: Further research is still required for oregano essential oil and its antifungal use. Oregano essential oil should not be used as substitute for conventional treatments.

Antioxidant Activity
In a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, oregano essential oil was shown to reduce oxidative-stress in the intestinal epithelium in animal subjects.8

Oregano essential oil was noted to have over 20 ingredients, many of which were identified as antioxidant components. Animal subjects had oxidative-stress induced in the jejunum (small intestine), and then were orally administered varying doses of oregano essential oil. Results show that not only was oxidative-stress significantly reduced, the oil was able to modify intestinal flora and inhibit inflammation markers, which may also reduce the chances of intestinal oxidative-stress.8

Anti-Inflammatory Properties
A study conducted in 2007 analyzed the anti-inflammatory activity of thyme and oregano essential oils. The study tested three different concentrations of the essential oil blend to evaluate its effect on intestinal inflammation in animal subjects with induced colitis (inflammation of the colon).11

Researchers found that the medium dose significantly reduced mortality rate (from 53% to 33%), supported weight gain recovery and decreased colon tissue damage.11

Note: While data is promising, the current study was performed on animal subjects. Further research is required before thyme and oregano essential oil could be considered as potential tools against chronic inflammation.

oregano essential oil uses and benefits

Side Effects of Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil is considered generally safe for inhalation and topical use. Oregano essential oil in its pure form is highly concentrated, and may cause skin irritation if applied directly. For topical use, always dilute with a carrier oil.

Oregano essential oil should not be used on infants, children, pregnant or nursing women.Oregano essential oil can potentially promote miscarriage in pregnant women, and can also interact with lithium (a medication taken to treat bipolar disorder). 2 Avoid oregano essential oil if these conditions apply to you. If you have heart conditions or high blood pressure, consult with a health care professional prior to use.5

Please note that essential oils should never be ingested without the direct supervision of a health care provider. Always read and follow the instructions on the label.

Where to Buy Oregano Essential Oil

Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through
expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Bejaoui, A., Haabane, H., Jemli, M., Boulila, A., & Boussaid, M. M. (2013) Essential Oil Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Origanum vulgare subsp. glandulosum Desf. at Different Phenological Stages. Journal of Medicinal Food16(12), 1115–1120. doi:1089/jmf.2013.0079
  2. University of Maryland Medical Centre. (2016, April 27). Psoriasis. Retrieved March 1, 2017 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/psoriasis
  3. Michigan Medical Centre – University of Michigan. (2015, August 6) Chronic Candidiasis (Holistic). Retrieved March 1, 2017 from http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-1186005#hn-1186005-supplements
  4. Yarnell, E., & Abascal, K. (2009). Herbal Support for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Infections. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 15(4), 189-195. DOI: 1089/act.2009.15402
  5. Bayala, B, Bassole, I.N., Gnoula, C., Nebie, R., Yonli, A., Morel, L., Figueredo, G., Nikema, J.B. Lobaccaro, J.M., & Simpore, J. (2014). Chemical Composition, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Proliferative Activities of Essential Oils of Plants from Burkina Faso. PLoS ONE, 9(3), e92122. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0092122
  6. Sienkiewicz, M., Wasiela, M., & Glowacka, A. (2012). The antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil (Origanum heracleotiucum L.) against clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa [Abstract]. Med Dosw Mikrobiol, 64(4), 297-307. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484421
  7. Stiles, J.C., Sparks, W., & Ronzio, R.A. (1995). The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano. J Applied Nutrition, 47, 96-102. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297852097_The_inhibition_of_Candida_albicans_by_oregano – View reference
  8. Wei, H., Chen, G., Wang, R., & Peng, J. (2015). Oregano essential oil decreased susceptibility to oxidative stress-induced dysfunction of intestinal epithelial barrier in rats. Journal of Functional Foods, 18, 1191-1199. doi: 1016/j.jff.2015.02.035
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, May 7). Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Healthcare Settings. Retrieved March 27, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/pseudomonas.html
  10. Bona, E., Cantamessa, S., Pavan, M., Novello, G., Massa, N., Rocchetti, A., & Gamalero, E. (2016). Sensitivity of candida albicans to essential oils: Are they an alternative to antifungal agents? Journal of Applied Microbiology, 121(6), 1530-1545. doi:1111/jam.13282
  11. Bukovská, A., Cikos, S., Juhás, S., Il’ková, G., Rehák, P., & Koppel, J. (2007). Effects of a combination of thyme and oregano essential oils on TNBS-induced colitis in mice. Mediators of Inflammation, 2007, 23296-9. doi:1155/2007/23296
  12. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2015, October 7). Lamiaceae. Retrieved April 4, 2017 from https://www.britannica.com/plant/Lamiaceae – View reference
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