What Experts say about Oil of Oregano:
Origanum vulgare, also known as Greek or Mediterranean oregano, has good claim to be a natural antibiotic. This is not the cooking oregano however but a rather rare wild herb which grows in the mountainous regions of the eastern Mediterranean. Its scent and flavor are due to the essential oil which has been renowned for its potent antiseptic properties.
When oregano oil was first tested in 1910 it was described as “the most powerful plant-derived antiseptic known” (H. Marindale). It has been found effective both in killing multiple bacteria and preventing their growth. It was shown to be many times more potent than phenol (carbolic acid).
Carvacrol activity crucial. Carvacrol or isopropyl-o-cresol is the active ingredient with powerful antimicrobial properties; it is more potent than carbolic acid.
Oregano has been found to contain several powerful antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavonoids which protect your tissues against harmful toxins like cancer-causing free radicals [Tian H, Lai DM. Zhong Yao Cai. 2006;29(9):920-1; Hazzit M, et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(17): 6314-21].
Oregano oil kills microbial pathogens etc
Oregano oil may be the ‘best of the best’ among essential oils in killing microbial pathogens, killing bacteria, fungus, yeasts and molds. It was shown to be very effective against Candida (1.5 times more potent than the drug Nystatin).
Specifically, it has activity against:
• Escherichia coli (E. Coli)
• Candida albicans
• Bacillus cereus
• Cryptococcus neoformans
• Staphylococcus aureus (Hence MRSA)
• Streptococcus pneumoniae
• Pseudomonas aerugiosa
Researchers from the Agricultural Faculty, Selcuk University in Turkey studied essential oils from several different plants, including oregano, laurel, marjoram and mint. They tested these oils on certain bacteria (including Bacillus, which can cause bowel infections and diarrhoea) in the laboratory. All of the herbs, including oregano, were found to successfully block the growth of the bacteria studied [Ozcan MM, Sagdic O, Ozkan G. J Med Food. 2006 Fall;9(3):418-21].
In an animal study, performed by scientists at the National Agricultural Research Foundation in Greece, oregano was found to be just as effective as the prescription-only antibiotic neomycin for curing diarrhoea caused by the E.coli bug, which is notorious for causing bowel infections.
Commenting on the findings the scientists said: This study indicates that dried oregano leaves may be as effective in the treatment of coli infection as neomycin [Bampidis VA, et al. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2006;53(3):154-6].
Dose: Oregano oil for products intended for internal use can be used by adding four drops to a small amount of water and take up to three times a day. For external use it can be applied liberally up to three times a day.
Oil of Oregano
Michelle Lynde, RH
There are over 40 species of oregano but the essential oil produced from Origanum vulgare is considered to be the most therapeutically beneficial.
The oil is extracted from the dried flowering herb by steam distillation. This natural extraction yields warm spicy-smelling, pale yellow oil that turns brown as it ages.
In the wild Mediterranean oregano it is the naturally occurring phenols–carvacrol and thymol–that are primarily responsible for its powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties.
Oregano oil has a wide range of traditional uses including the treatment of various digestive upsets, asthma, colds, flu, bronchitis, headaches, rheumatism, muscular pain, insect bites, and warts.
As Effective as Antibiotics
As antibiotic resistance causes serious concern among many health authorities, oil of oregano is proving to be an effective antibacterial agent against staphylococcus, E. coli, listeria, and candida albicans. In 2001 researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington, DC, tested oregano oil in relatively low doses on staphylococcus bacteria. The oil was just as effective at inhibiting the growth of the bacteria as standard antibiotics such as streptomycin and penicillin. In February 2000, British researchers reported in the Journal of Applied Microbiology that oregano oil demonstrated antibacterial activity against 25 different bacteria.
Other studies have proven the strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of oil of oregano.
Be Sure to Dilute
The pure essential oil of oregano is a moderate skin irritant and a strong mucus membrane irritant and should not be applied directly to the skin or taken internally unless diluted. For the most part, oil of oregano products are already diluted but check to make sure. The oil is considered safe to help conditions such as sore throats, indigestion, colitis, nausea, and viral and bacterial infections when it is diluted in a carrier oil, preferably cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in a ratio of one part oregano oil to three parts olive oil.
Generally, the oil is limited to the treatment of acute conditions and used only in small doses of four to six drops at a time for no more than seven to 10 days. For those who find the taste a little strong the diluted oil from capsules can be mixed with milk, juice, a teaspoon of honey, or mixed with your favourite pasta or pizza sauce.
A dilution of oregano oil in sweet almond, grape-seed, or jojoba oil works well for massage and in baths, body creams, and shampoos to help alleviate conditions such as muscle and joint pain, migraines, nail fungus, skin infections, cold sores, and dandruff. The recommended dosage for topical use is 10 to 12 drops of oregano oil per ounce of carrier oil or two drops diluted in five mL of carrier oil. To help relieve respiratory congestion, allergies, coughs, chronic bronchitis, and sinusitis, add a few drops of the oil to a diffuser or vaporizer and inhale deeply for a few minutes.
The diluted oil should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and on babies and children. It should not be used on sensitive or damaged skin and it is not recommended for use if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition. Wise consumers should be cautious of adulterated oils or oils that are made from Spanish oregano, thyme, or from cultivated oregano. These do not produce the same medicinal benefits as the wild Mediterranean herb.
Michelle Lynde, RH, is a clinical herbalist in Vancouver and is currently studying aromatherapy.
Source: alive #265, November 2004 http://www.alive.com/2066a5a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=550
Dean G. Morris, MH
The essential oil of oregano is widely appreciated for its many health benefits. A powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic, it can be used to treat a variety of ailments including food poisoning, giardia, flu, toothache, insect bites, athlete’s foot, and candida.
Will the Real Oregano Please Stand Up?
There are several types of oregano. The culinary spice that claims to be oregano and gives your pizza its Italian flavour, is sometimes common marjoram and quite different from the oregano used for health benefits. The major difference between these look-alike herbs is the type and quantities of phenols (compounds with antiseptic properties) they produce. With just a touch, leaves of oregano plants release their aromatic phenols to dissuade insects, animals, and microbes from eating their flowers and seeds.
True oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum) is coveted for its medicinal value because the naturally occurring carvacrol (liquid phenol) content is higher than 55 percent of its essential oil. In 1996, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a study undertaken by the Aristotle University in Greece whereby they analyzed oregano oil products and found some to be marjoram or thyme oil mislabelled as oregano oil.
In 2000, British researchers reported in the Journal of Applied Microbiology that oregano has one of the widest spectrums of antimicrobial activity known in plants, with a capacity to destroy a variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Oregano oil demonstrated antibacterial properties against 25 different types of bacteria, reinforcing its status as a potent natural antibiotic.
In 1995, the Journal of Applied Nutrition reported that oregano oil, and naturally occurring carvacrol in particular, inhibits growth of candida far more effectively than a commonly employed antifungal agent.
A research study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2000 found that after oregano oil was orally administered to 14 people suffering from intestinal parasites Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni and Endolimax nana, the parasites completely disappeared after six weeks.
Georgetown University tested many essential oils in vitro and determined that oregano was effective against systemic Candida, staph infection, bacillus anthraxis (anthrax), and E. coli. In recent viral tests, Microbiotest Laboratories demonstrated that oregano reduced cold and flu viruses significantly.
How to Use Oregano
Topical oregano oil may be applied as needed to the skin, but remember to keep it away from your eyes and other sensitive areas.
An adult dose taken orally is 50 milligrams of oregano oil delivering 37 to 43 mg carvacrol per day for up to 21 days. After a two-week break, you can resume this cleansing, supplemental dose for another 21 days and so on.
Intensive doses of oregano (50 mg to 100 mg two to three times per day delivering from 74 to 255 mg carvacrol per day for up to 14 days) should only be taken under the direction of a health professional. If a product recommends more than these dosages, chances are it is not pure oregano oil from true oregano.
Oregano oil is not recommended for long-term use, for children under 12, or to be taken during pregnancy or lactation.
In 1991, the International Journal of Food Microbiology reported that oregano inhibited growth of Lactobacillus cultures. Indeed, as with any supplement used to reduce microbes, after using oregano oil you should take a good probiotic – micro-organisms that your body needs for health – to help restore your friendly flora.
Use wisely and use sparingly, and oil of oregano will weave its powers far and wide.
Dean G. Morris, MH, is a fifth generation herbalist. He practises privately in Springville, Utah.
Source: alive #269, March 2005 http://www.alive.com/3090a6a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=550
Does Your Oregano Measure Up?
Chris Greene, DC
Every time we go into a health food store, we are confronted with endless choices. We try to make decisions based on quality rather than stylish marketing. The first step in recognizing the real value of a product is determining exactly where the raw material comes from.
Consider the Source
If you’re considering taking oil of oregano, first consider its source. I always tell my patients that the oregano oil they take should be researched and tested to ensure its efficacy. Has it been proven safe for internal consumption? It is imperative that you know where the oregano comes from.
True Wild Oregano
There are 52 different species of Origanum in six families. The most important factor in producing oil of oregano is location, location, location. The main suppliers of true wild oregano are from Greece and Turkey. These fertile lands, which were never glaciated, are home to the most mineral-rich mountains in the world. The efficacy of wild oregano is enhanced by the fact that it grows out of the calcium-, magnesium-, and phosphorous-rich rock that is found there. The negative ionic charge from the Mediterranean Sea, coupled with high-altitude growing areas, may make these the most energetically vibrant plants on the planet.
It takes 3,000 pounds of this type of wild-crafted oregano to produce two pounds of oil. Pure, unadulterated oregano oil is expensive to produce compared to commercial grade oils; the difference can be likened to the difference between true perfume and eau de toilette.
Oil of oregano contains compounds that work as antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal agents. It has been used to treat athlete’s foot, candidiasis, gum disease, and cold sores. The oil has also been used internally to aid digestion. Antioxidants found in oregano oil make it a powerful free-radical fighter. For pain relief, high-quality oil of oregano is safe and effective for toothaches and headaches because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been used successfully to treat rheumatoid arthritis pain. Wild oregano is a rich source for a number of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorous.
Read Up On It
When one of my patients has questions about which oregano oil they should take, I recommend they read Dr. Cass Ingram’s The Cure is in the Cupboard: How to Use Oregano for Better Health (Knowledge House Publishers, 1997). This is the definitive book about oregano oil. It is a valuable resource with a strong scientific base, which not only offers dozens of treatment protocols, but also helps direct the reader to quality products.
Chris Greene, DC, hosts the radio show “To Your Health” in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a second-generation health food store owner and received his Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from Life University.
Source: Alive #275, September 2005: http://www.alive.com/3290a6a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=550