Oregano isn’t just a delicious addition to a slice of pizza. This healthful herb packs a lot of perks for your bod. But can it have the same effect as an extracted or essential oil? Here’s a deep dive into the 8 best benefits of oregano oil.
Oregano oil 101
Oregano’s a flowering plant that’s part of the Lamiaceae family. It’s been used as a tasty herb and holistic remedy for centuries. Thanks to its high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory effects, it’s been used to treat:
- achy muscles
- yeast infections
- high cholesterol
- asthma and other respiratory conditions
- tummy troubles like diarrhea, cramping, and indigestion
Oregano oil can come as an extract but it can also come in the form of an essential oil. Oregano oil extract (aka oil of oregano) is a diluted form that comes in a liquid or in tablet form. You can use this oil when you’re cooking or take it orally.
Oregano essential oil is also extracted from the oregano leaf, but it’s much more concentrated. It’s not safe to ingest, so it’s a better option for aromatherapy. There’s not a lot of research specifically focused on either of these oils, but the studies that currently exist seem promising.
Oregano is a solid source of antioxidants like:
These powerful compounds can help protect your body from free-radical damage. Why’s that exciting? This type of protection can help reduce your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
According to an older study, fresh oregano has 42 times the antioxidant levels of apples. The same study also found that oregano contains up to 30 times the level of antioxidants in the other herbs they analyzed, too. Woo-hoo!
Some of the compounds found in oregano oil might have antimicrobial properties. Research suggests that oregano essential oil might help stave off potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria like E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
An older study found that oregano essential oil helped mice survive a Staphylococcus aureus infection. The rats who were given oregano essential oil had a 43 percent 30-day survival rate. Compare that to the rats who were given actual antibiotics had a 50 percent survival rate. Not too shabby.
A 2019 lab study also found that oregano essential oils that were high in carvacrol and thymol prevented strains of Staphyloccus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria from forming in dairy and meat products. But these compounds seem to be more effective on their own without the oil, and we def need more research on humans to show this is legit.
The powerful compounds in oregano might also help calm inflammation. According to an older 2010 research review, some of the stuff in oregano oil (like thymol and rosmarinic acid) seem to have some anti-inflammatory properties.
Another study also found that concentrations of carvacrol in essential oil helped reduce swelling in the ears and paws of mice. This might help reduce the symptoms of certain inflammatory conditions like:
- allergic asthma
- rheumatoid arthritis
- autoimmune arthritis
Keep in mind, we need more research on humans. We also need more studies that show the effects of high concentrations of oregano compared to using it as an oil.
Oregano might help reduce your risk of leaky gut. This condition happens when the walls of your gut become damaged. That can allow toxins and bacteria to get into your bloodstream. Yuck.
A 2016 study on pigs found that oregano essential oil helped protect their gut walls. It also lowered the number of E. coli bacteria in their guts. But TBH, we need more research on humans 🐷. Reminder: Never ingest any essential oils.
Candida is a common fungus among us. It’s normally harmless, but an overgrowth can lead to a yeast infection. A 2010 study suggests oregano essential oil can be effective against 16 different Candida strains.
A 2008 test-tube study found oregano essential oil kicked butt against five different types of Candida. Another test-tube study found that carvacrol was also very effective against oral Candida.
But that doesn’t mean you should skip the doc if you have signs of a yeast infection. It’s also important NOT to shove fresh oregano up your vag. Seriously. Until there’s more research on this one, stick to prescription antifungals.
Oregano oil might help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. A 2013 animal study put two groups of mice on a high fat diet. The mice that were also given carvacrol had significantly lower cholesterol levels than the mice that didn’t.
In another study, 48 folks with mildly high cholesterol were put on a diet and lifestyle plan to help them lower their levels. Thirty-two of the participants were also given 25 mL of oregano oil extract after eating. At the end of 3 months, peeps who took the oregano oil had lower LDL cholesterol than those who didn’t.
Carvacrol is building some weight loss cred. That’s because it might help reverse the chain of events that lead to fat cell growth. In a 2012 study, mice that were given carvacrol gained less weight and body fat than the mice that went without.
Just keep in mind, research on oregano on its own as a weight loss method is super limited. We also don’t know if eating oregano as part of a balanced diet would work better than oils or capsules.
A sprinkle of oregano oil (the extract, not the essential oil) on your pasta won’t replace an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever. But some studies have found oregano oil has some pain-killing properties.
A 2013 study found that oregano extract helped reduce pain in rats. It was dose-dependent which means the more extract the rats consumed, the more pain relief they got. But despite these promising results, we 10/10 need more studies on humans.
Oregano oil comes in capsule and tablet form. You can find it online or in most health food stores. But the quality strength of supplements can vary a lot. So it’s super important you stick to top-notch supplements from reputable brands and read the directions before use.
You can also use oregano essential oil as a topical treatment as long as you dilute it first. Most folks mix 1 teaspoon of carrier oil with one drop of oregano oil and put it on the skin. FYI: It’s NOT meant to be consumed orally.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Who shouldn’t take oregano oil?
Def talk with your doc before adding a new supplement to your diet. It might conflict with certain types of prescription medications.
Also, you shouldn’t take oregano oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding unless your doc says it’s OK.
Oregano is a delicious herb that boasts some pretty impressive health benefits. Studies show it might help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, fight yeast infections, aid gut health, relieve pain, stave off cancer, and help you lose weight. But overall, we still need more research to prove all of these perks.
You can find oregano supplements at most health food stores or online. Just be sure to stick to high quality products that aren’t packed with harmful chemicals or other fillers.
Reminder: Always talk with your doctor before adding an oregano supplement to your routine.