Oregano oil, extracted via steam distillation from the herb’s leaf, is one of the most potent and powerful essential oils and is most commonly used to treat bacterial and fungal infections. The benefits of oregano essential oil are owed to its main chemical component, carvocal, a phenol containing antioxidant properties when taken orally.
Because of its high antioxidant levels, the oil is famed for helping support a healthy immune system, respiratory function, and a healthy digestive system. Unlike some oils, oregano can be taken internally—in fact, that’s how a lot of the magic happens. As always, with internal use of essential oils, it’s crucial to purchase your oil from a trusted source.
Internal uses include support for the immune system and natural treatment for fungal infections, intestinal parasites, vaginal Candida, staph infections, and more. To benefit from oral use, add 1-2 drops to a veggie capsule and dilute with a food-grade oil like olive oil. You can also use it as a flavoring in cooking or mix a drop or two with raw honey and add to a cup of hot water.
In addition to internal use, you can apply oregano oil to the skin, but with great caution. Always dilute oregano oil with a carrier oil when using topically. A drop or two will work perfectly! Topical uses include treatment for plantar warts, canker sores, Candida, athlete’s foot, calluses, carpal tunnel, ringworm, staph, and more.
Aromatically, the herbaceous and sharp scent of oregano oil can help fight fungal infections, nasal polyp, pneumonia and strengthen one’s feeling of security.
Properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic (to the respiratory system), antiviral, immune stimulant
Main Constituents: Carvacrol, thymol
6 Benefits of Oregano Essential Oil
Natural Antibiotic Alternative
Oregano oil is often referred to as nature’s antibiotic. Today, we see an increase in the unnecessary overuse and overprescription of antibiotics for infections. Repeated use of antibiotics kills the bad bacteria and the good bacteria that are responsible for helping us digest food, protecting from illness, producing vitamins, and overall— keeping us healthy. Overuse of antibiotics can also cause antibiotic-resistant infections. Often, antibiotics are prescribed wrongly and for conditions that have no use, such as viral infections.
Contrary to prescription antibiotics, oregano essential oil kills only bad bacteria and won’t create antibiotic resistance in our bodies. This is due to the active ingredients in oregano oil like carvacrol and thymol that help fight bacteria.
One study looked at oregano oil’s effect on Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, one of the most common causes of infections. The study found that 43% of mice administered oregano oil survived past 30 days, almost as high as the 50% survival rate of the subjects that received regular antibiotics.
Natural Treatment for Infection, Bacterial Overgrowth, Yeast Infections
Research found that oregano oil was effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli— both common causes of respiratory and urinary tract infections.
A 2011 study published by the Journal of Medicinal Food found significant antibacterial activity against five bacteria strains (including E. Coli), suggesting that the oil could help against food poisoning.
In addition to being effective against bacterial overgrowths like respiratory infections and UTIs, oregano oil is believed to help with common yeast infections, particularly Candida. As a fungus, yeast can populate and colonize quickly in the right environment and cause gut problems and infections. The most common cause of yeast infections worldwide is the yeast Candida.
A study that administered in vitro oregano oil found the oil to be highly antifungal and effective against five types of Candida (mouth, vagina).
Another test-tube study researching the effectiveness of oregano essential oil on 16 strains of Candida found that the oil may be an excellent alternative treatment for Candida yeast infections.
May Help Reduce Medication Side Effects
Recently, studies have shown that oregano oil can help reduce side effects of medications used for chemotherapy, arthritis, and more. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine found that phenol in oregano oil helped protect against methotrexate toxicity in mice subjects. MTX is a drug commonly prescribed for issues like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis; unfortunately, it can have dangerous side effects. Researchers used oregano oil to try and keep these effects at bay. They found that because of oregano oil’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it was able to protect against the dangerous side effects. These are fascinating results.
Furthermore, research done in the Netherlands found that oregano essential oil could “prevent bacterial overgrowth and colonization in the large intestine during oral iron therapy.” Oral iron therapy is administered to those with anemia and can sometimes result in severe GI issues like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
May Improve Gut and Intestinal Health
Another potential benefit of oregano oil is that it may promote a healthy gut by killing parasites and protecting against leaky gut syndrome.
Gut parasites can cause common gut issues like bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhea. One study gave 600 mg of oregano oil to 14 people with parasite related gut symptoms daily for six weeks. All 14 participants experienced a reduction in parasites, while 77% were cured.
Another study found that adults whose stools contained enteric parasites, and we’re given 600 milligrams of oregano oil for six weeks showed significant improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms. Enteric parasites like Blastocystis hominis, known to cause digestive distress, bloating, and gas, saw a complete disappearance in eight cases.
In addition to parasite treatment, oregano oil may also be able to help with leaky gut syndrome. A common complaint we see more and more of today is leaky gut, which happens when the stomach lining becomes damaged and allows bacteria and toxins to pass into the body and bloodstream. A pig study found that oregano oil not only protected the gut lining from damage but also prevented it from becoming leaky. Even more, the oil reduced a number of E. coli bacteria.
The components found in oregano oil, like carvacrol, have potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation.
Because of oregano oil’s high antioxidant levels, it can help combat free radical damage. Oxidative damage is a huge contributor to chronic conditions like neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Oregano oil’s high antioxidant levels may be able to prevent mutagenesis and carcinogenesis of cells.
A study done on mice looked at the effects of oregano and thyme essential oils on artificially induced colitis. Results showed that the combination of the essential oils reduced inflammatory markers.
Another study applied different carvacrol concentrations to the swollen ears and paws of mice and saw a 35-61% swelling reduction.
May Help Treat Digestive Issues
People with digestive issues like small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and heartburn may benefit from oregano essential oil. Compounds in the oil may help digestion by relaxing GI tract muscles and balancing good/bad gut bacteria.
SIBO, a common digestive problem with symptoms of bloating, gas, and intolerance to many foods. As we’ve learned, oregano oil can help prevent bacterial overgrowth, and because of this, we believe that it can also treat digestive health infections like SIBO.
In 2014, the Global Advances in Health & Medicine published a study that found the use of herbal antimicrobials (ie, oregano oil) was just as effective as regular antibiotics prescribed for SIBO. In the study, 104 SIBO patients were either given rifaximin or herbal antimicrobials to take for four weeks. Results found that 46% of the patients given herbal antimicrobials, compared to the 34% treated with antibiotics, showed improvements.
In addition to treating SIBO, oregano oil may also help with other digestive issues. Like menthol, the compound found in peppermint that helps with digestive problems, thymol found in oregano oil may help relax tissue and reduce heartburn, GERD, and discomfort after eating.
And there you have it, the top benefits and uses for oregano essential oil. If there is one essential oil that you should have on hand during the cold and flu season—oregano oil is it. Nature’s antibiotic can help support a healthy immune system, digestion, and respiratory function. We can all use a little bit of that right now.
- Modern Essentials Handbook (2019)