11 Benefits Of Oregano Oil | How To Use It & Side Effects

Learn the right ways to use oregano oil to make the most of its benefits.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Zeel Gandhi, BAMS Dr. Zeel Gandhi Dr. Zeel GandhiBAMS
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Experience: 5 years
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The many benefits of oregano essential oil make it a necessary addition to your home. Originally from Europe, oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common flavoring spice widely used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.

Oregano oil has traditionally been used in natural remedies to treat digestive problems and colds. Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tumor-fighting properties are among the properties of this essential oil (1).

This oil has many health benefits. For example, food spoilage can also be prevented by its usage as a food preservative (2).

This article discusses the benefits of oregano essential oil, how to use it, and its side effects. Take a look to answer the question, what is oregano oil good for?

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Oregano Essential Oil

What Is It?
Oil extracted from the leaves and shoots of the oregano plant.

What Are Its Benefits?
It has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It may aid wound healing, weight loss, and improve GI health.

Who Can Consume It?
Those looking for pain relief, fungal infection treatment, and skin and hair health improvement.

How Often?
One or more drops of diluted oil can be taken once in two days.

Caution
It has to be diluted before use. More than 600 mg per day may result in severe reactions.

What Is Oregano Oil?

Oregano oil is extracted from the leaves and shoots of the oregano plant. They are first air dried, and the oil is extracted by steam distillation (3). This oil of oregano contains powerful antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds such as carvacrol, thymol, rosmarinic acid, terpenes, terpenoids, and ursolic acid (4), (5).

Here are eleven potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Oregano Oil?

1. May Help Fight Harmful Bacteria

Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic known to be effective against several bacteria (6). It may help protect respiratory health and fight bacteria that cause infections of the skin and the urinary.

The carvacrol in the oil can exhibit antibacterial properties by inhibiting the growth of bacteria (7). More studies are needed to understand its use for this purpose.

Along with carvacrol, the thymol in oregano oil was found to have a synergistic effect in inhibiting bacterial growth (8), (9).

The essential oil from a different species of oregano, namely Origanum heracleoticum L., was found to be effective against clinical Strains of Escherichia Coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (10).

The graph suggests that at 0.5%, oregano oil reduced E. coli O157:H7 on romaine lettuce and spinach by more than 2 and 3 logs on day 0 with no survivors found on day 1. Oregano oil and carvacrol also killed all E. coli O157:H7 concentrations at 0 min. Thus, oregano oil, due to its antibacterial properties, could be used to decontaminate and protect produce during storage.

Antimicrobial Activity Of Oregano Oil

Source: Antimicrobial Effects of Plant Compounds against Virulent Escherichia coli O157:H7 Strains Containing Shiga Toxin Genes in Laboratory Media and on Romaine Lettuce and Spinach

The oil had also shown inhibitory action against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that often causes food poisoning (11).

The natural potent antibacterial properties of oregano oil have the potential to be used against antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains (12).

2. May Help Lower Cholesterol

Studies have shown that oregano oil may help lower cholesterol in animals as well as humans. Animal studies have found that carvacrol may help in significantly improving lipid profiles in mice fed with a high-fat diet for ten weeks. These mice had lower cholesterol levels than the mice fed with only a high-fat diet (13).

A study on people with mild hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels) demonstrated that consuming a different species of oregano oil (Origanum onites) could help manage their lipid profiles (14). Over a duration of three months, the subjects had lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL or low density lipoprotein) and increased levels of good cholesterol (HDL or high density lipoprotein). These effects were observed in the subjects after they had made changes to their diet and lifestyle as well.

The oil had also reduced levels of C-reactive protein that is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (14).

3. May Have Powerful Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants bind to free radicals that are harmful toxins in our body. They help prevent cellular damage and oxidative stress that may otherwise lead to chronic disorders like cancer or heart disease (15). Studies have shown that oregano has a high concentration of antioxidants (16), (17).

Carvacrol, thymol, and rosmarinic acid are all powerful antioxidants in oregano oil (18), (19), (20). They help in improving the immunity of the body and keeping diseases at bay.

4. Could Help Treat Fungal Infections

Oregano essential oil has fungicidal activity that has been used to treat oral candidiasisi  Also known as oral thrush, a fungal infection that causes white lesions in the lining of the mouth. and denture stomatitisi  An infection caused by a yeast called candida, which can lead to redness and swelling beneath the dentures. (21). A study has found that adding essential oils such as oregano oil to a foot bath can be effective against several fungal and bacterial strains (22).

In vitro studies have established the antifungal activities of oregano oil against candida yeast infections (23).

Another study found the antifungal activity of thymol against Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida krusei strains when used in combination with nystatin (an antifungal medication) (24).

5. May Improve Gut Health

Oregano oil has been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders (25).

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of oregano essential oil (OEO) help in preserving gut health. OEO was found to have a protective effect on the intestinal walls of pigs. The oil helped treat leaky gut by improving the intestinal barrier and killing the harmful microorganisms (26).

Carvacrol’s anti-inflammatory properties help in healing gastric ulcers. The compound may offer benefit by interfering with inflammatory mediators like prostanoids (27).

Studies have found that oregano may treat bacterial infections of the small intestine. This effect could be attributed to the oil’s strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (28), (29), (30). Flatulence or excess gas is a symptom of small intestinal bacterial infections (SIBO), and oregano oil helps in ameliorating them at least as effectively as Rifaximin (an antibiotic) (28).

Oregano oil may also help relieve tiredness caused by enteric parasites. It achieves this by inhibiting the activity of the gut parasites, namely Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni, and Endolimax nana (31).

6. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Oregano oil has anti-inflammatory properties (32). It helps in protecting the body against several disorders, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disordersi  A range of disorders that arise due to continued damage to the nervous system and cells, leading to difficulty in cognition and mobility. , and drug toxicity (1), (15) (22).

Animal studies suggest that carvacrol reduces the production of inflammatory mediators (interleukins) that are known to cause inflammation  (33).

Another study demonstrated that a combination of oregano oil and thyme oil reduced inflammation in mice (34).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an epidemic disease that is primarily caused due to cigarette smoking. The carvacrol on oregano oil was found to help treat systemic inflammation in pigs with COPD (35).

7. May Help Relieve Pain

Oregano oil is a natural analgesic (36). Traditionally it was used to relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritisi  A chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissues, thereby resulting in joint inflammation. through topical application (37). Carvacrol also inhibits prostaglandin-synthesis and prevents the associated inflammation and pain (37).

The carvacrol in oregano oil was effective in reducing orofacial pain (38). The oil could also relieve the related symptoms like chronic pain in the head, face, neck, and mouth (39).

8. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

Oregano essential oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and chemopreventive properties that may help in fighting cancer (32), (40).

Another study discovered that oregano essential oil could exhibit anti-proliferative activity in stomach cancer (41).

Extracts from oregano were found to cause cancer cell death in human colon cancer (42).

Several studies show that carvacrol may have cancer-fighting properties. The compound was also found to have anti-tumor effects on human breast cancer cells (43).

Carvacrol was also found to reduce the risk of liver cancer (44).

Another study found that carvacrol is a very potent inhibitor of cell growth in human lung cancer (45).

Research also states that oregano oil and its main constituents can be potentially used as anticancer agents (46).

9. May Help You Lose Weight

The anti-inflammatory and hypolipidemic effects of oregano essential oil may help in reducing the risk of obesity.

Animal studies found that carvacrol could prevent diet-induced obesity by modulating gene expressions in mice fed with a high-fat diet (47).

Another study found that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly low in mice fed with a high-fat diet and carvacrol (14). C-reactive protein is usually higher in children and adolescents with excess weight (48). Hence, the reduction of the C-reactive protein is an indication of lowered inflammation and risk of obesity (49). This also decreases the risk of other disorders linked to obesity, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes (50).

Carvacrol was also found to help in weight management. In mice studies, those on a diet with carvacrol gained less weight than those fed a high-fat diet alone (13).

The thymol in oregano oil may also reduce the risk of obesity (51).

10. May Help In Healing wounds

Oregano essential oil has been used traditionally to help heal wounds. A novel wound-healing ointment was developed with the oil as one of its components (52).

Another oregano extract ointment was found to prevent bacterial contamination on wounds (especially post-surgical wounds) (53).

According to a rat study, carvacrol was found to improve wound healing by regulating pro-inflammatory molecules (54).

protip_icon Fun Fact
It is believed that Aristotle used oregano oil for healing snake bites.

11. May Help Reduce Side Effects From Medications/Drugs

Several drugs and medications may have adverse effects. One such drug is Methotrexate, which is used to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of oregano essential oil were found to help against methotrexate-induced intestinal damage in rats (55).

Another study suggests that carvacrol is useful during oral iron therapy (56). Iron supplements may cause digestive discomfort with symptoms like constipation and vomiting. Carvacrol could help protect the intestinal epithelial cells during Salmonella infection  (56).

Oregano oil may also be used in aromatherapy for stress relief. In addition to benefiting one’s health, the oregano essential oil could also have advantages for one’s skin and hair. Take a look at how oregano oil benefits your skin and hair.

Oregano Oil For Skin And Hair

Oregano essential oil is popular in skin care products because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of carvacrol (57).

Collagen is an important structural component of the skin. It also prevents premature aging (58). Carvacrol promotes collagen synthesis by activating the genes involved in collagen production (58). The antioxidants present in oregano essential oil may also help in preventing cellular damage.

The antifungal properties of the oil may help treat dandruff and boost scalp health. However, research is limited in this regard.

Due to its several benefits, it is helpful to learn to prepare it at home for a variety of uses. Check out the steps below.

Oregano Oil Recipe

What You Need

  • ½ cup of dried oregano leaves
  • ½ cup of extra virgin oil
  • 1-2 cups of water

How To Prepare It

  1. Add oregano into a glass jar and pour the oil on top of it.
  2. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  3. Seal the jar with the lid.
  4. Boil water in a pot.
  5. Place the jar in the boiling water and turn off the burner.
  6. Let it sit in it for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the jar from the water and shake it well.
  8. Store the jar in a cool, dry place for 2 weeks.
  9. Shake the jar at least once a day.
  10. Strain the oil from the oregano leaves after 2 weeks into a clean airtight glass jar.

Now, let’s learn how to use it!

How To Use Oregano Oil?

The essential oil should be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil before applying topically. The capsule form of oregano oil has different concentrations. Please use only the therapeutic grade. Consult a doctor before taking them.

Uses

For Treating Skin Infections

You will need

  • Oregano essential oil
  • Olive oil

Process

  1. You can use one drop of oregano essential oil in one teaspoon of olive oil and apply this mixture to the affected area. This diluted oil helps reduce skin irritation and soothes the skin.

For Treating Athlete’s foot

You will need

  • Oregano essential oil
  • Hot water bath
  • Sea salt

Process

You can use a few drops of oregano essential oil in the foot bath with two tablespoons of sea salt and soak your feet for 20 minutes.

As A Natural Antibiotic

You will need a capsule prescribed by a medical professional to treat infections by bacteria or parasites.

As A Cleaning Agent

You will need

  • Oregano essential oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Baking powder
  • Vinegar

Process

You can mix all the ingredients in hot water and use the mixture as an all-natural cleaner.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Greek physicians used oregano oil to treat toothaches, headaches, and wounds.

A blogger shared her experience using oregano oil to manage Morgellons disease, an imaginary condition that makes you feel as if something is crawling on your skin. She writes, “The swelling, red, itchy, inflamed skin was gone, and the doctor asked how I got it to look so good. I told him I put oregano oil and coconut oil on my skin (i).”

So, this is how the oil of oregano benefits your health, hair, and skin. Though it has important benefits and uses, it may not be suitable for all. The oil could cause some side effects one must be aware of.

Side Effects Of Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is very potent and can burn if not properly diluted. It also has a pungent taste; hence, you can mix it with olive or coconut oils. Perform a patch test before using it on your skin.

Since oregano oil may interfere with certain drugs, consult a doctor before using it. If you experience any side effects, immediately seek medical attention.

People with diabetes should monitor their intake of the oil as it may lower blood sugar levels (59).

People who are taking medication are cautioned from taking oregano oil.

It is generally not considered safe for pregnant women unless otherwise prescribed by a licensed practitioner (60).

Conclusion

Oregano oil has been used traditionally as a herbal medicine for the many health benefits it provides.

It fights bacterial and fungal infections and is suggested to have the potential to combat multidrug resistant bacteria (61).

It helps in reducing cancer risk, lowering cholesterol, and weight loss.

Apart from culinary uses, the oil is also used in aromatherapy. You can make the oil a part of your regular routine and add it to your food. However, be wary of the potential side effects it may cause.

People Also Ask

  1. Can I use oregano oil on my face?
  2. Yes, but dilute it with coconut or jojoba oil. It will help in improving skin health.
  3. Does oregano oil help treat sinus infections?
  4. Oregano oil has strong antibacterial compounds that may help treat sinus infections. Use it in a diffuser to clear blocked nasal passages.
  5. How do you use oregano oil for hair growth?
  6. Mix it with coconut or argan oils for promoting hair growth. However, there is no research stating that oregano oil may boost hair growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is oregano oil the strongest antibiotic?

Yes. Oregano oil has been considered the most potent natural antibiotic since ancient times. It was used in traditional medicine to treat gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, respiratory infections, and inflammatory diseases (63).

How much oregano oil to take as an antibiotic?

There is no standard recommended dosage for oregano essential oil as an antibiotic. Research on its effectiveness and dosing is limited. However, using 1 to 2 drops of the oil in a diluted form is recommended to avoid its side effects.

Which is better: oregano oil or capsules?

Both forms have their advantages. Liquid oregano oil is available in a more concentrated and potent form than capsules. However, people who dislike the taste of oregano in the oil form may opt for capsules.

Can I take oregano oil before bed?

No. The stimulating effects of oregano oil may elevate dopamine and serotonin levels and possibly interfere with sleep (64), (65).

Can you drink oregano oil with water?

Yes. You can drink oregano oil diluted with water. However, dilute it properly as its strong flavor may otherwise cause irritation.

Key Takeaways

  • Oregano essential oil is extracted from the leaves and roots of the oregano plant. It is known for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
  • The bioactive compounds in oregano oil may help fight harmful bacteria, treat fungal infections, improve gut health, and lower cholesterol levels.
  • It is also used as a cleaning agent and as a natural antibiotic to treat athlete’s foot.
  • If not diluted properly with carrier oils, like coconut or olive, this herbal medicine may cause burns on the skin.
oregano essential oil benefits_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Dr. Zeel Gandhi is an Ayurvedic doctor with 7 years of experience and an expert at providing holistic solutions for health problems encompassing Internal medicine, Panchakarma, Yoga, Ayurvedic Nutrition, and formulations. She graduated as a top ranker from Dr. D.Y.Patil College of Ayurveda and Research Centre , Navi Mumbai, and is a specialist in Panchakarma therapies. She believes that Ayurveda...read full bio

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