Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an herb that is a member of the mint family (Labiatae). Oregano has been considered a precious plant commodity for over 2,500 years in folk medicines that originated across the globe. It has a very long use in traditional medicine for treating colds, indigestion and upset stomachs.
You might have some experience cooking with fresh or dried oregano leaves — such as oregano spice, one of the top herbs for healing but oregano essential oil is far from what you’d put in your pizza sauce. Found in the Mediterranean, throughout many parts of Europe, and in South and Central Asia, medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil from the herb, which is where a high concentration of the herb’s active constituents are found. It takes over 1,000 pounds of wild oregano to produce just one pound of oregano oil! The oil’s active ingredients are preserved in alcohol and used in essential oil form both topically (on the skin) and internally.
When made into a medicinal supplement or essential oil, oregano is often called “oil of oregano.” As mentioned above, oregano oil is a considered a natural alternative to prescription antibiotics. Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol, both of which have been shown in studies to have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Oregano’s oil is primarily made of carvacrol, while the plant’s leaves contain a variety of antioxidant compounds, such as phenols,triterpenes, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid and oleanolic acid.
Designed specifically for fighting bacterial infections, antibiotics are one of medical doctors’ favorite tools for treating many health issues. But there’s another underutilized natural “medicine” that many doctors don’t tell their patients about: oregano oil (also called oil of oregano).
Oregano oil is a powerful, plant-derived essential oil that may rival antibiotics when it comes to treating or preventing various infections. In fact, it contains properties that are antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. And oregano oil is unlikely to cause many of the harmful side effects that are commonly attributed to high use of antibiotics — such as increased risk for antibiotic resistance, poor gut health due to destroying beneficial probiotic bacteria, reduced vitamin absorption and leaky gut syndrome due to damage of the GI tract’s lining.
Meanwhile, oregano oil benefits extend beyond just controlling infections. What else is oregano oil used to treat? Common examples of conditions that oregano oil can help manage include:
Athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
Earaches or toothaches
Digestive problems such as heartburn and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)