Oregano oil is a natural substance said to offer a variety of health benefits. Widely available in supplement form, oregano oil is purported to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects. In addition, proponents claim that oregano oil can treat a number of health conditions.
In alternative medicine, oregano oil is typically touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:
- sore throat
While oregano oil is often taken orally, some individuals also apply oregano oil to the skin for the treatment of acne, athlete’s foot, canker sores, psoriasis, rosacea, varicose veins, and warts.
One popular remedy involving oregano oil is a steam inhalation used to alleviate symptoms of the common cold. By combining oregano oil with very hot water, adding the blend to a steam inhaler, and then breathing in the steam, alternative practitioners say that it may help to clear congestion.
So far, few scientific studies have tested the health effects of oregano oil. However, some preliminary research suggests that oregano oil may offer certain health benefits.
A combination of thyme and oregano oils shows promise in the treatment of colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease), according to an animal-based study published in Mediators of Inflammation in 2007. In tests on mice, scientists discovered that colitis-afflicted animals experienced a significant reduction in inflammation after treatment with the combination treatment.
Due to a lack of clinical trials, it’s unknown whether a combination of thyme and oregano oils may be beneficial in treatments for colitis in humans.
In laboratory research, scientists have shown that oregano oil may help fight the growth of candida. A type of yeast that normally resides in the body (in the digestive tract and vagina), candida can contribute to a number of infections – such as oral thrush, skin infections, and vaginal yeast infections – when its growth goes unchecked. But while findings from test-tube studies and animal-based research are promising, there is currently a lack of clinical trials demonstrating that oregano oil can help prevent or treat candida-related infections in humans.
Preliminary research indicates that oregano oil may help protect against certain bacterial infections. For instance, in a 2005 study on mice, published in Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, researchers found that oregano oil may be useful for the prevention or treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infection. And in a 2004 study published in the Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, tests on mice revealed that oregano oil may be effective in destroying the bacteria associated with dysentery.
Due to a lack of research, very little is known about the safety of using oregano oil supplements. However, there’s some concern that oregano oil may be irritating to certain people when applied directly to the skin.
Supplements haven’t been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.
Using It for Health
Due to the limited research, it’s too soon to recommend oregano oil as a treatment for any condition. If you’re considering using it, talk to your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits. Keep in mind that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.