Oregano is a fragrant herb that’s best known as an ingredient in Italian food. However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that’s loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
Oregano oil is the extract and, although it’s not as strong as the essential oil, it appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Essential oils, on the other hand, are not meant to be consumed.
Interestingly, oregano oil is an effective natural antibiotic and antifungal agent, and it may help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.
What is oregano oil?
Botanically known as Origanum vulgare, oregano is a flowering plant from the same family as mint. It’s often used as an herb to flavor food.
Oregano has been popular ever since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations used it for medicinal purposes. In fact, the name oregano comes from the Greek words “oros,” meaning mountain, and “ganos,” meaning joy or delight.
The herb has also been used for centuries as a culinary spice.Oregano essential oil is made by air-drying the leaves and shoots of the plant. Once they’re dried, the oil is extracted and concentrated by steam distillation .
Oregano essential oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically. However, it should not be consumed orally.
Here are 9 potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.
1. Natural antibiotic
Oregano and the carvacrol it contains may help fight bacteria.
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is one of the most common causes of infection, resulting in ailments like food poisoning and skin infections.
Research has also shown that oregano essential oil may be effective against some potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This includes Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli, both of which are common causes of urinary and respiratory tract infections.
2. May help lower cholesterol
Studies have shown that oregano oil may help lower cholesterol. In one study, 48 people with mildly high cholesterol were given diet and lifestyle advice to help lower their cholesterol. Thirty-two participants were also given 0.85 ounces (25 mL) of oregano oil extract after each meal.
Carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, has also been shown to help lower cholesterol in mice that were fed a high fat diet over 10 weeks.
The mice given carvacrol alongside the high fat diet had significantly lower cholesterol at the end of the 10 weeks, compared with those that were just given a high fat diet.
3. Powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. It’s thought that free radical damage plays a role in aging and the development of some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Free radicals are everywhere and a natural product of metabolism. However, they can build up in the body through exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
One older test-tube study compared the antioxidant content of 39 commonly used herbs and found that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants.
Because oregano oil extract is very concentrated, you need much less oregano oil to reap the same antioxidant benefits as you would from fresh oregano.
4. Could help treat yeast infections
Yeast is a type of fungus. It can be harmless, but overgrowth can result in gut problems and infections, such as thrush.
The most well-known yeast is Candida, which is the most common cause of yeast infections worldwide.
Test-tube studies have also found that carvacrol, one of the main compounds of oregano oil, is very effective against oral Candida.
High levels of the yeast Candida have also been associated with some gut conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
A test-tube study on the effectiveness of oregano essential oil on 16 different strains of Candida concluded that oregano oil may be a good alternative treatment for Candida yeast infections. However, more research is needed.
5. May improve gut health
Gut symptoms like diarrhea, pain, and bloating are common and can be caused by gut parasites.
One older study gave 600 mg of oregano oil to 14 people who had gut symptoms as a result of a parasite. After daily treatment for 6 weeks, all participants experienced a reduction in parasites, and 77% were cured.
Oregano may also help protect against another common gut complaint known as “leaky gut.” This happens when the gut wall becomes damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to pass into the bloodstream.
6. May have anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation in the body is linked to a number of adverse health effects. Research has shown that oregano oil may reduce inflammation.
One mouse study found that oregano essential oil, along with thyme essential oil, reduced inflammatory markers in those that had artificially induced colitis.
Carvacrol, one of the key components in oregano oil, has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
One study directly applied different concentrations of carvacrol to the swollen paws or ears of mice. Carvacrol reduced paw and ear swelling by 35–61% and 33–43%, respectively.
7. Could help relieve pain
Oregano oil has been investigated for its painkilling properties. One older study in mice tested standard painkillers and essential oils, including oregano essential oil, for their ability to relieve pain.
It found that oregano essential oil significantly reduced pain in mice, exerting effects similar to those of the commonly used painkillers fenoprofen and morphine.
The research proposed these results were likely due to the carvacrol content of oregano.
8. May have cancer-fighting properties
A few studies have indicated that carvacrol, one of the compounds of oregano oil, may have cancer-fighting properties.
In test-tube studies on cancer cells, carvacrol has demonstrated promising results against lung, liver, and breast cancer cells. It has been found to inhibit cell growth and cause cancer cell death.
9. May help you lose weight
Thanks to oregano’s carvacrol content, oregano oil may aid weight loss. In one study, mice were fed either a normal diet, high fat diet, or high fat diet with carvacrol. Those given carvacrol alongside their high fat diet gained significantly less weight and body fat than those just given a high fat diet.
Furthermore, carvacrol appeared to reverse the chain of events that can lead to the formation of fat cells.
More research is needed to demonstrate that oregano oil has a role in weight loss, but it may be worth trying as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The bottom line
Oregano oil extract and oregano essential oil are both relatively cheap and readily available. Oregano is higher in antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, and it’s packed full of powerful compounds called phenols.
Oregano also contains compounds that may be effective against bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation, and pain, among other conditions.
Overall, it appears to have several health benefits and may be useful as a natural treatment for some common health complaints.
Source : Healthline