According to an ancient Greek myth, the goddess Aphrodite cherished oregano above all herbs and even grew it in her garden atop the Mount Olympus. Its name, in fact, was derived from the Greek “oros” (mountain) and “ganos” (joy) and can be translated as “the joy of the mountain”. Perhaps in virtue of this belief, brides and grooms in Ancient Greece and Rome were traditionally crowned with laurels of oregano during the wedding ceremony.
Today we are familiar with oregano primarily as a result of its versatility in the kitchen. However, historically this herb was beloved because in addition to it’s place in the kitchen, it manifested a variety of quickly observable health benefits. Oregano oil is extracted from the leaves and the flowers of the herb, and the health benefits of the combination can be derived in merely a few concentrated drops.
Oregano oil is most abundant in two phenols:
- Thymol: a natural antiseptic and fungicide, which boosts the immune system and protects against toxins; and
- Carvacrol: the most beneficial compound of the two, which displays a surprisingly wide array of antibacterial properties (Oregano: A Natural Antibiotic).
In addition, oregano oil contains terpenes, which also manifests strong antibacterial properties, the antioxidant rosmarinic acid, the substance naringin, which acts as an inhibitor against cancer cells, the anti-inflammatory beta-carylophyllin (E-BCP), as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Effects On Health
Oregano oil has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years as its properties were intuitively discovered by people not only in Europe, but throughout the world.
Today, these intuitions are gradually being put to the test, with mostly promising results. In a nutshell, oregano has been shown to improve gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin health, while also boasting a chemical makeup that can protect the body against harmful organisms. Since research on oregano and oregano oil is only in its infancy, more positive effects on human health are likely to follow in the near future.
So now let’s discuss 6 Ways oregano oil can improve your health!
- It supplies the body with powerful antioxidants:
According to recently published research, inflammation is quickly becoming a great source of concern in terms of healthcare. As the primary source for the production of free radicals in our bodies, it is now portrayed as the real, but silent, cause of most of our diseases. This is why antioxidants, the body’s chief defense against free radicals, are increasingly recommended as essential for our health, and oregano oil is packed with high concentrations of substances with an antioxidant effect.
- It helps fight respiratory infections:
In a number of studies, oregano oil has displayed significant antibacterial properties, especially through corvacrol, one of the two essential phenols found in its composition. This has encouraged scientists to investigate oregano and oregano oil as potential weapons against the common cold, as well as against a number of respiratory infections brought about by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria strains. The fact that oregano oil comprises tens of active ingredients that boost the immune system and stimulate white blood cell production is also encouraging.
- It helps fight urinary tract infections (UTIs):
Also due to its antibacterial properties, oregano oil has been found effective in treating certain urinary tract infections, such as those caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli). This is particularly important because a number of bacteria strains are now resistant to antibiotics, and oregano oil has demonstrated promising results against these superbugs.
- It improves gut health:
A proper balance of bacteria in the intestines is essential for gut health and for overall wellbeing because it ensures the proper digestion of food, distribution of necessary substances to the body, and strengthens the immune system. Through carvacrol, oregano oil may improve gut health as well as aid the flow of the bile into the digestive organs which assists the digestion process and helps balance the intestinal bacteria.
- It protects against cancer and aging:
The effect of oregano oil in relation to cancer is twofold. To begin with, through its high concentrations of antioxidant substances, it protects the body against free radicals, which are known to cause certain cancers, as well as cell degeneration, wrinkles and vision loss. Secondly, oregano oil contains naringin, which may inhibit cancer cells from reproducing.
- It can relieve muscle pain:
The ingredient called beta-carylophyllin (E-BCP) from oregano oil has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties and for its ability to ease and provide relief for muscle pain and stiffness. The applications for this discovery extend from treating a post-workout ache to ameliorating the condition of patients who suffer from osteoporosis.
How To Choose and Use Oregano Oil
Over 50 types of oregano exist worldwide, and they do not all share the same chemical composition. Mediterranean varieties of oregano, for example, are richer in carvacrol and are therefore better sources for the production of a more impactful oregano oil. To make the most of its health benefits, look for oregano oil that is extracted from varieties such as Origanum vulgare, Thymus capitatus or Origanum heracleoticum, all of which are grown in Mediterranean regions and comprise higher concentrations of the phenol carvacrol.
Oregano oil is considerably more potent than other essential oils, which is why it is often a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before any treatment, especially if you intend to apply it for a longer period of time. It is also important that you dilute oregano oil if you have purchased it in a concentrated form!
For muscle pain or skin treatments, oregano oil in a diluted solution should be applied topically and massaged onto the affected area.
To clear up the sinuses or treat colds and other respiratory infections, add a few drops of oregano oil to a bowl of hot water and breathe in the resulting steam.
Finally, oregano oil can also be ingested in a diluted form (in water or in another, carrier oil, such as olive oil), as well as in the form of previously manufactured capsules in order to treat internal illnesses.
- The chemical composition and effects of oregano oil: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28071000
- On the nutritional value of dried oregano: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Spices,_dried,_oregano_nutritional_value.html
- On the potential effects of carvacrol on gastric cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28244942
- On the beneficial effects of oregano essential oil against E.coli: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484421
- On the antiviral properties of oregano oil and carvacrol: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24779581
- On the antibacterial properties of oregano, carvacrol and thymol: http://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/jmm/56/4/519.pdf?expires=1488970583&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=CAEAD76E4D0426D56663DBEEAD32BFD5
- On the interaction of oregano oil and of essential oils, in general, with different categories of foods: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2015.00076/full