Rich with such substances, oregano and especially its essential oil is endowed with strong antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics which are most of the basis of its use in medicine. Read more to learn about this powerful herb.

What is Oregano?

Oregano is a common name for several species of herbs in the Origanum genus and is part of the mint family. The most common species sold in grocery and health stores is Origanum vulgare [1].

Besides being a culinary herb in many dishes, oregano also possesses important and potent medicinal properties. A wide range of substances is present in the oregano essential oil, with some of the more common and medicinally active being polyphenols, carvacrol, and thymol [2, 3].

Oregano Snapshot

  • Has antioxidant properties
  • Has antimicrobial properties
  • Reduces inflammation

Health Benefits of Oregano

1) Antioxidant Properties

Oregano is rich in antioxidants, with as little as one gram could contribute a significant amount of plant-based antioxidants [4].

A large portion of these antioxidants present in this herb is polyphenols which are quite common and powerful in effect [2, 5].

2) Antimicrobial Effects

Thymol and carvacrol are most likely responsible for the strong anti-bacterial characteristics of oregano [3, 6, 7].

Oregano essential oil is safe and effective as an anti-bacterial compound for use on food, inhibiting the growth of common foodborne microorganisms E. coli and a species of the Salmonella genus on fresh produce [8].

The herb stops certain bacteria from reproducing, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). An ointment with 20% Oregano inhibited Proteus mirabilis and Proteus vulgaris [9].

The essential oil efficiently inhibits the growth of antifungal (fluconazole) resistant and susceptible strains of Candida albicans [10].

Oregano essential oil’s effectiveness as an anti-bacterial is significantly increased when used in combination with silver nanoparticlesWhen combined, the effects of the essential oil and the silver nanoparticles are additive and are very effective in killing a wide range of bacteria, even antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in less than 7 hours, with certain species killed in as little as 20 minutes [11].

3) Anti-inflammatory Properties

Oregano exhibited strong inhibition of inflammatory activity in one Australian study carried out on 71 herbal drugs from 63 plant species. Extracts were found to decrease pro-inflammatory TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 cytokines and increased anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 [12, 13].

Combined treatment with thyme and oregano essential oils can reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines and thereby reduce toxin-induced colitis in mice [14].

4) Gut

Oral administration of oregano extract reduced the number of bleeding points in gastric mucosa of mice subjected to cold restraint stress [15].

Its essential oil increased the surface area of the gut promoting greater nutrient absorption. It was also effective in reducing the population of E. coli in the gut, as well as reducing inflammation in the gut in the pig [16].

Supplementation inhibits parasites present in the intestine. One test used emulsified oregano essential oil, administered to several patients suffering from three different parasites, two being protozoans and one amoeba (17).

Over a six week period, a 600 mg daily dose of the oil was successful in completely eliminating the protozoan Entamoeba hartmanni in four patients and Blastocystis hominis in eight other patients. It also eliminated the amoeba, Endolimax nana, in one patient (17).

5) Wound Healing

A 3% oregano extract ointment outperformed petroleum jelly as a wound treatment. Subjects with wounds treated with the oregano ointment had fewer bacteria present on the wound. It also improved scar coloring and pliability over the course of 90 days [1819].

Dosage

The recommended dosage of oregano/its essential oil varies.  As mentioned before, roughly 1 gram would be sufficient in providing a significant amount of antioxidants per day [4].  

A 600 mg daily dose of emulsified oregano essential oil was sufficient to treat intestinal parasites (17).  

Caution

There is little to no health risks associated with oregano or oregano essential oil [20].

There are studies that show plant-based oils can be toxic when consumed in excessive levels [20].

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