Derived from a common culinary herb, oregano essential oil is so much stronger than its popularity in the kitchen would let on. Here, we'll learn about oregano oil production and composition, its most valuable uses, and six ways you can benefit from them.
In this article, you will learn about:
- Oregano's Plant Profile
- Top 6 Healing Benefits of Oregano Oil
- Maximizing Use of Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano's Plant Profile
There's no mystery surrounding oregano essential oil's plant profile. The potent essential oil that we will discuss momentarily comes from the same oregano that you likely have in your kitchen herb garden or sitting, dried and crumbled, in a jar in your herb and spice pantry.
Who knew that the oregano in our favorite recipes was harboring such a potent essential oil?
Like many of our herbal gems, oregano hails from the Mediterranean. As such, its popularity began in Greece and Rome, then spread to Europe and eventually the rest of the Western world. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and flowers of the plant, similar to the parts used for culinary purposes.
Oregano essential oil is rich in the chemical components carvacrol and thymol, which are shared with thyme essential oil as well. (1) This should give you a head start on the best applications for oregano if you are familiar with thyme- and it doesn't disappoint!
Use oregano essential oil for its antimicrobial strength, which we'll look at more closely at the end of the article. Remember that it is a strong oil that often causes sensitization if used neat (undiluted, or without a carrier oil). Make sure you dilute it well for anything topical or internal.
Top 6 Benefits of Oregano Oil
1. Antibacterial Support
Of the wide range of antibacterial essential oils available to us, oregano oil stands out among the fold. From a 2012 study in Poland, of a group of essential oils tested, “The highest and broadest activity was shown by O. vulgare oil. Carvacrol had the highest antibacterial activity among the tested components.” (2)
With antibiotic resistance on the rise, having natural alternatives available are more important than ever. Use oregano oil as part of a first response to sickness to help beat bacterial illness to the punch!
Application: Inhalation, culinary use, and diluted topical treatments can all introduce oregano's antibacterial effects as needed.
2. Antiviral Disinfecting
Viruses are such a struggle because there isn't really a way to “cure” them. Think about common flu and cold medicines. They promise a shorter duration or lessened symptoms, but they aren't just going to be cured. A strong antiviral works by disabling viral cells, which slows the spread and lets the body take over without being overwhelmed.
Antivirals hold the virus down so the immune system can kick it!
Oregano essential oil's main component, carvacrol, stands out as a potent antiviral, as well. (3) With so many viral illnesses circulating – yes, including the flu and the common cold – having an antiviral tool at the ready can help keep your family well.
Application: Use oregano essential oil and thyme essential oil together for increased antiviral and antibacterial potency in cleaner sprays and wellness preparations.
3. Steamy Decongestant
Making the most of these antimicrobial actions, oregano essential oil is often used to help battle congestion of all sorts. Allergies and colds alike are easily treated with inhalation or a nice tented steam using a drop of oregano.
Between antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions, oregano essential oil is traditionally considered a staple for relieving conditions that stuff up the sinuses. Do remember that water doesn't dilute oil, so I wouldn't put it into a neti pot. But it should still be part of a well-rounded plan of attack when congestion hits.
Application: Put a drop of eucalyptus and oregano oil into a bowl of hot, steaming water. Lay a towel over your head and neck like a tent and breathe deeply with your eyes shut.
4. Bug Repellent
As a source of thymol and carvacrol, oregano essential oil is an effective addition to mosquito sprays. (4) The trick with DIY bug repellents is to have a variety of actions working together. Oregano is yet another oil – joining citronella, clove, and even ylang ylang – that can be used to ward off those pesky summer pests.
Application: Include oregano among a blend of 3-5 essential oils diluted into alcohol or witch hazel then added to water in a spritz bottle. Spray on clothes and ankles.
5. Athlete's Foot Killer
After showing itself to be a strong antimicrobial, oregano oil pulls out all the stops and reveals itself as antifungal, as well!
Athlete's foot and other fungal infections are often stigmatized, but they are often no worse than any other incidental infection. It's a part of life and something that many of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives.
Tackle nasty fungal infections with oregano essential oil, knocking it back before the discomfort really sets in. One study set out to do so and found promising results with a foot bath – a simple and soothing treatment for an uncomfortable and unsightly infection. (5)
Application: Mix oregano essential oil into Epsom salts and use in a warm foot bath to help drive the healing, antifungal benefits in.
6. Antioxidant Healer
Finally, as a strong antioxidant, oregano oil has been studied for a new and unfortunately greatly-needed kind of healing: cancer-related. In 2013, researchers evaluated the ways in which oregano essential oil could help to mitigate the damage inflicted from a chemotherapy drug.
Cavracol, as well as super-antioxidant pomegranates, demonstrated protective and restorative effects neurologically after the chemotherapy drug MTX was taken. (6)
Application: Speak with your oncologist about mitigating the incidental damage done by harsh treatments with antioxidant oils like oregano oil.
Maximizing Use of Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano essential oil should be our first thought when microbes are less than friendly. Think surface treatments, diluted topical applications, inhalation, and diluted culinary use – each of the main methods of administration, all working together to tackle bacteria, viruses, and fungi that would hold us back from health. Oregano oil simply won't stand for it!