By Meredith Hirt
The potential benefits of oregano oil range from aiding digestion to decreasing congestion, with big implications for health and wellness in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Additionally, new studies suggest it may have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer suppressing agents. But don’t start shaking all of your oregano flakes into your olive oil just yet — in fact, oregano oil is not oil with oregano in it, shocking as that might be.
It’s actually an essential oil made from the oregano plant, and it contains a higher concentration of the useful compounds that occur naturally in the plant. It is safe for you to consume, unlike some essential oils which are reserved for uses like aromatherapy but not ingestion. Oregano oil can generally be found as an oil or capsule where vitamins and health supplements are sold. When purchasing, ensure the label says it is 100% pure essential oil and mentions the species: Origanum Vulgare (that’s the technical name). If “fragrance” is mentioned it means there are other additives, so look for a kind without fragrance.
Oregano oil is often found in the medicine cabinets of holistically-minded individuals and naturopathic doctors. But hey, they’re onto something! This herbal supplement can do a world of good — find out the potential benefits here.
1. It’s Naturally Antibacterial
Like lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, and more essential oils, oregano oil is a natural antibacterial. It contains carvacrol and thymol, two antibacterial compounds. Research has shown that oregano oil can be effectively used against clinical strains of bacteria including E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (which can cause pneumonia).
2. It Has Antifungal Properties
Thymol is also known to have antifungal properties, and its presence in oregano oil has given it antifungal uses as well. Thymol has an effect on Candida, a fungal infection caused by yeast, which can result in oral or yeast infections. Last time I checked, yeast infections weren’t on anybody’s wishlist. To use oregano oil to get rid of this pesky infection, doctors recommend coated capsules (you can find them at your local health food store or order them online).
To treat fungal infections on your skin mix one to two drops of 100% therapeutic-grade oregano oil with water or coconut oil and apply topically. You should speak with a doctor before use to ensure it won’t negatively interact with other medications.
3. It’s Anti-Inflammatory
In addition to carvacrol, which has shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, oregano oil is also high in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that this essential oil held back inflammatory biomarkers (a substance that encourages inflammation in the body). Because of these properties, oregano oil is a promising contender for skincare products with anti-inflammatory benefits.
4. It’s Full of Antioxidants
As mentioned above, oregano oil is flush with antioxidants, and reports have even shown that it is a strong candidate to replace synthetic antioxidants (antioxidants created from chemical processes). Antioxidants inhibit oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals and chain reactions that can damage cells. The negative effects of oxidation (occurring due to oxidative stress) include heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Antioxidants are found naturally in vitamins C and E, selenium, carotenoids, and other essential oils.
5. It May Help Fight Off Cancer
For its high antioxidant levels, oregano oil could exert an antiproliferative effect, meaning it could suppress cell growth — in particular, the growth of cancer cells in surrounding tissue. Studies have suggested that oregano oil should be taken into consideration as a new component or natural drug used to treat or prevent cancer. However, additional research and pre-clinical studies will need to be undergone to ensure the safety and efficacy of oregano oil for this purpose. Check with your doctor before using oregano for this purpose, especially if you’re currently taking other medications.
6. It May Contribute to Your Skin’s Health
Oregano oil is becoming more popular in skincare products and offers multiple benefits, whether it’s purchased specifically in a topical face oil or its base form is simply ingested for skin health. While research is minimal on oregano oil’s use for these purposes, some influencers swear by it — promoting general skin health as well as using it to treat acne. They recommend ingesting it in capsule form, adding just a few drops to a glass of water, or making a spot treatment. If going the topical treatment route, make sure the oregano oil is diluted with another oil, as it can burn your skin if applied directly.
7. It May Help With Dandruff
The benefits of oregano oil on hair are not widely studied, however, some have used it as a dandruff treatment, thanks to the antibacterial properties that can work to remove fungus from your scalp. Add a few drops to a tablespoon of shampoo and apply. Wash off after 10 minutes and be sure to keep it away from your eyes.
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