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Is Oregano Oil the Ultimate Natural Antibiotic?

Oregano is in the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. That’s why you’ve tasted it on Mediterranean dishes like pizza or pasta. It enlivens dishes with its spicy and deliciously herbal flavor.

Alongside its culinary uses, oregano has been used medicinally for thousands of years to help relieve symptoms of colds and gastrointestinal problems.

The Claims about Oregano

In modern times, oregano has received attention and acclaim for its antimicrobial effects. There are those who claim it can kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The proponents of the use of oregano tout the powerful healing effects of the essential oil of the plant.

Oregano oil is a very potent essence of the plant that is made by distillation. Essential oils are concentrated forms of the herbs from which they’re made, which means that they have potent amounts of the plant’s active chemicals.

Many claim that oregano oil is an effective antibiotic (antibacterial). But is there any strong evidence that oregano can help kill off bacterial infections? Or even viruses?

Should you reach for oregano oil next time you’ve got an infection? Let’s take a quick look at the evidence. From there, you can make an informed decision.

The Evidence: Does Oregano Work?

Evidence From The Lab

When researchers tested oregano oil against pathogens in test tubes, they consistently found that the oil had the ability to kill fungi and that it possesses “strong antibacterial activity” against a litany of bacteria (including bacteria that infect humans) [1][2].  Even drug-resistant bacteria have been killed by oregano [5].

Impressively, oregano has also exhibited wide-ranging antiviral effectiveness, including some effectiveness against flu viruses [2][4].

Impressively, oregano has also exhibited wide-ranging antiviral effectiveness, including some effectiveness against flu viruses [2][4]. In the lab, oregano oil has “strong antiviral activity” against viruses like enterovirus and polio [2].

Compounds in oregano can destroy the protein shell (called the capsid) that protects viruses [4].

Researchers have also identified the exact compound in oregano, called carvacrol, that has the strongest antimicrobial effects [2].

Evidence in Animals

When used in chickens, oregano killed a host of bacteria, and researchers even went so far as to say that oregano oil “generally … can substitute” for antibiotics in these chickens to help them develop properly [6]!

At the very least, oregano oil and its carvacrol component have had therapeutic effects on tissue with which it comes directly into contact such as the gut or places where it is topically applied [7][8].

But the key question in determining whether oregano oil is effective is: How absorbable is it?

Does Oregano Work in Humans?

Unfortunately, we have very little information about how effective oregano oil is in humans.

What we need in the future are high quality tests that show whether ingesting oregano oil can kill colds or flus in our bodies or not.

What we need in the future are high quality tests that show whether ingesting oregano oil can kill colds or flus in our bodies or not. We also need clear information on the bioavailability of oregano oil, or how well it’s absorbed into our blood when taken orally (from there it can be delivered to tissues throughout the body).

One study on oregano oil’s bioavailability focused on people who took oregano extract and the components measured in their urine [9]. Excretion in urine can be considered a reliable indication of how well something is absorbed into the blood [9][10].

That’s a good initial indication of oregano oil’s potential efficacy, but we need more info!

How to Use Oregano Oil

Possible uses of oregano oil include:

  • Topical use on athletes foot and fungal infections
  • Topical use on skin infection (some people dilute it in coconut oil)
  • Rubbed on sore muscles and joints for pain relief
Oregano oil can also be taken internally for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral effects.

Oregano oil can also be taken internally for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral effects. If you do this, however, be sure to dilute the oil in water or juice. If you take pure drops of oregano oil, you’ll feel a painful burning in your throat because the active ingredients are so powerful.

Dosage:

  • 200mg, taken 3 times a day, is a common dosage for intestinal parasites or antibacterial and antiviral effects.
  • If you’re using a dropper bottle of oregano essential oil, only 1-2 drops is recommended (diluted in water or juice).

Precautions

If you take prescription medications, ask your doctor if oregano oil will have any interaction with your meds.

Some medical precautions involving oregano use are quoted below:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Oregano is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. There is concern that oregano in amounts larger than food amounts might cause miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of oregano when used in medicinal amounts while nursing.

Bleeding disorders: Oregano might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Allergies: Oregano can cause reactions in people allergic to Lamiaceae family plants, including basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, and sage.

Allergies: Oregano can cause reactions in people allergic to Lamiaceae family plants, including basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, and sage.

Surgery: Oregano might increase the risk of bleeding. People who use oregano should stop 2 weeks before surgery[11].

Should Everyone Have Oregano Oil in Their Home?

Make no mistake, oregano oil has some mighty impressive research backing up its antibiotic qualities.

To sum up the research, oregano kills many different types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses upon direct contact. Hundreds of studies testify to its killing abilities.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope that research in the near future can validate oregano’s antibiotic effects throughout our bodies. We have promising initial clues to its bioavailability, but more info is needed.

If you don’t have to worry about any of the precautions listed above, you might as well try oregano oil to see if it works against minor infections, common colds, or even the flu. It’s a fairly safe remedy.

Evan has years of experience researching and writing about the health effects of food and nutritional supplements. He is especially passionate about nutritional pharmacology and the bioavailability, efficacy, and actions of supplements. He wants to spread knowledge about how effective diet and supplements can be at treating ailments and promoting well-being. Learn more about Evan here.

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