Anyone who has had an herb garden can attest to the power of the oregano plant: A few pinched leaves from this aro-matic perennial can add potent flavor to all kinds of dishes and prove a nice addition to pizzas or tomato sauces or any-thing in need of Mediterranean-style flair.
But that’s just the beginning. The oil from oregano (which is also pungent) is highly regarded outside of the kitchen for its ability to boost immunity during cold and flu season. And now this: There is some evidence—albeit preliminary—that oregano oil can help relieve skin conditions like acne, athlete’s foot, cold sores, and dandruff.
In fact, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of this Italian-food favorite may one day make it a must-have medici-nal. Until then? Here’s the latest on oil of oregano, and a few reasons why it’s earned its place in the beauty aisle.
The Science Behind Oregano Oil
Oregano contains numerous phenolic and other chemical compounds (including carvacrol and rosmarinic, oleanolic, and ursolic acids) that have beneficial biological effects. One in-vitro (test tube) study, as well as an in-vivo study on mice, demonstrated these compounds have antimicrobial properties and are effective against Candida albicans, a type of yeast that is a common cause of fungal infections.You can use oil of oregano for certain dermatological conditions. Dilute a few drops of the oil with a tablespoon of olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil, and massage it into your skin at the site of inflammation or irritation.
Oregano oil can also be mixed and applied with chamomile, eucalyptus, tea tree, or spearmint oil. Do not apply the oil to sensitive areas or open wounds, and consult a healthcare practitioner before using the herb for any therapeutic reason if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oil of Oregano for Cold and Flu
Oil of Oregano v Infection
“Antifungal Activities of Origanum Oil Against Candida albicans” by V. Manohar et al., Mol Cell Bio-chem, 12/01
“Optimization of Carvacrol, Rosmarinic, Oleanolic and Ursolic Acid Extraction from Oregano Herbs . . .” by J. Baranauskaité et al., Nat Prod Res, 5/15 n “Psoriasis,” University of Maryland Medical Center, www.umm.edu/health
“Treating Infections Naturally” by Theresa Ramsey, www.DrRamsey.com
“Biological and Pharmacological Activities of Carvacrol and Carvacrol Bearing Essential Oils” by K.H. Baser, Curr Pharm Des, 2008
“Himalayan Oregano Effective Against MRSA” by Catharine Paddock, www.MedicalNewsToday.com, 11/24/08
“The Treatment of Respiratory Ailments with Essential Oils of Some Aromatic Medicinal Plants” by Y. Rakover et al., Harefuah, 10/08