The smell of oregano is common in Italian, Mediterranean, North African and Mexican cooking establishments. Oregano is a name for several different species of plants, with similar characteristics. True wild oregano (sometimes called wild marjoram) is the species Origanum vulgare. Marjoram (Origanum majorana) or Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens) are often used in place of the true oregano species with varying degrees of medicinal similarity.
While the 'killing action' of oregano oil in many studies was the result of activity in a "test tube" or culture media, enterically coated products will deliver the oil into the GI tract. As at the time of writing, these antibacterial actions have not yet been confirmed by human clinical trials.
Oregano leaves have been used traditionally for almost every ailment concerned with the respiratory and digestive system.
Oil of oregano is not to be confused with common oregano in the kitchen spice cupboard, which is usually Oregano marjoram rather than true oregano (Oregano vulgare).
The essential oil distilled from oregano leaves contains varying amounts of thymol and carvacrol which can constitute as much as 90% of the oil. One should be sure to get oregano oil from a reputable company, for it has been suggested that many of the oils available commercially are derived from non-oregano species, particularly various types of marjoram and thyme. Furthermore, there are different concentrations of oregano oil available that are being made with different extraction techniques which may involve the use of solvents.
Most of the activity of oregano comes from the volatile oils including thymol, carvacrol, p-cymene and others. Some of these volatile oils have been shown to have strong antifungal and anthelmintic ("anti-worming") activities.
Typical doses, depending on the concentration, are 1-4 drops, capsules or tablets; 1-4 times per day. Full strength oregano oil is quite irritating and should never be ingested without diluting.
You can try adding bulk oregano oil to capsules when taking it internally, starting with a small amount and increasing it slowly. It is best when taken with food but since this volatile oil is quickly absorbed and associated with inducing heartburn, some may require them to be taken in coated capsules, so they do not break down in the stomach but instead are delivered to the small and large intestine. This also delivers the oil further down in the GI tract, where its killing action may be needed.
When using pure oregano oil topically, make sure to dilute it in a carrier oil such as almond, olive, or another pure vegetable oil to avoid burning the skin. Avoid canola oil and Wesson or other commercial vegetable oils.
Side-effects are minimal, but allergic reactions to oregano oil and a sensitivity to plants in the same family (thyme, basil, hyssop, marjoram, mint, sage) can occur. It should not be applied in full strength to the skin.
Oil of oregano may reduce the absorption of iron, so take the oil at least two hours before or after consuming iron supplements.
The body of positive evidence for oregano oil as a major antibiotic is growing. Among 52 plant oils tested, oregano was considered to have "pharmacologic" action against common bugs such as Candida albicans (yeast), E. coli, Salmonella enterica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. [Journal Applied Microbiology, Volume 86, June 1999] Pseudomonas is a type of germ that is getting more difficult to treat as it has developed strains that are resistant to antibiotic drugs.
One study investigated the use of oregano oil in the treatment of GI parasites in 14 adult patients. After 6 weeks of treatment, there was a complete disappearance of Entamoeba hartmanni in 4 cases and Blastocystis hominis in 8 cases. Gastrointestinal symptoms improved in 7 of the 11 patients infected with B. hominis. [Phytotherapy Research. 2000; 14: pp.213-4]
Place 3 drops of oregano oil into an empty gelatin capsule (or vegicap), or mix the same amount of oil into juice and take 3 times each day. Enteric-coated preparations are available at about 50-100mg of oil per capsule or tablet. Several weeks of continuous use may be required for the anti-fungal properties of oil of oregano to clear up a deep-seated Candida infection.
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