Anyone who has had an herb garden can attest to the power of the oregano plant: A few pinched leaves from this aromatic 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.
Origanum has been revered for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks used it for wounds, headaches, and venomous bites.
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 medicinal. 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.