Oregano: It's Not Just for Pizza Anymore

Submitted by Miss Danielle on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 11:40am.

Antifungals are a hot topic for people who are trying to lower the amount of Candida Albicans in their system. As I've stated in the 'Some Pills are Hard to Swallow' section of this website, people rely too much on antifungals and take ridiculous - if not dangerous - amounts of them (in my humble opinion) without any benefit. I like to promote natural intake of antifungals (i.e. FOOD) vs commercial cleansing concoctions and prescription antifungals. Let's talk about Oregano oil.

How/Why Does it Work?

Oregano oil has significant levels of thymol and carvacrol compounds which stop the growth of fungi, worms and other organisms (it is even found to be a good remedy in treating athlete's foot using direct application and by taking it internally). Carvacrol is a natural phenol which contains powerful anti microbial activity. Flavonoids provide natural antiseptic properties, and Terpenes (long chain hydrocarbons) are natural anti-inflammatory agents (helping the gut and joints and aiding in digestion).

All Oregano Oils are not Equal

For it to be effective, you need to buy the high-quality products because concentration of the active ingredients in oregano oil can vary among oregano products. Ideally, the oil should be organic, made without added chemicals. Some articles claim it needs to be made from wild Mediterranean oregano (Origanum vulgare) found in mountainous regions. For example, you can read this article by Chris Greene which was published in Alive Magazine. The author of the article (along with many other people/companies on the internet) recommends a book called "The Cure is in the Cupboard". I was curious so I did some digging.

A lot of the articles I found online reference that the author of "The Cure is in the Cupboard", Cass Ingram, favours Oreganol P73 which is made by North American Herb and Spice. His book also suggests using this specific oregano oil above all others. Well, of COURSE he favours it. Turns out, Cass Ingram was the company's founder. Boo, Cass Ingram. Now that you've influenced (read: brainwashed) all of these authors who are using your book as a reference, I cannot confirm whether the TYPE of oregano seems to make a difference.

You should also know that all the actual research and lab tests done on this product was performed in test tubes and on rats, not on humans. Bare in mind, the only lab research I could find to support use of oregano oil was financially backed by North American Herb and Spice. *sigh*

How You Should Take it

I've tasted straight Oregano Oil and it is STRONG and gross, enough to turn your stomach (and I LOVE oregano as an herb). Some people suggest mixing the drops with juice or milk. Others in oil.

"Please beware of taking the pure essential oil as it could harm you. It must be properly diluted to be effective and safe", writes Roger Baird, an alternative health researcher in British Columbia. "Tests show that most people respond best to one part oregano to four parts olive oil. Extra strength products are not more effective. They are difficult for the body to assimilate and are extremely unpalatable as well as being potentially hazardous."

Baird is also in the business of selling oil of oregano, but I can't find which product is his. He, too, suggests in another article that you only use wild Mediterranean oregano. "With oregano's increasing popularity, distillers of the herb and oil suppliers sometimes adulterate the oil to provide manufacturers with a higher Carvacrol analysis. This adulteration destroys millions of years of natural plant evolution and results in a product that is useless. Only the correctly identified wild Mediterranean oregano oil, in its unadulterated state, is useful therapeutically."

Most specialists suggest you limit internal consumption of pure oregano oil to only a few drops per dose, and limiting duration of use to a few days to weeks. One article I read by a Holistic Practitioner suggested taking at least 2 days a week off from an oregano supplement and to avoid continuous use of oregano for more than 2 months at a time.

Despite recommendations and suggestions you may see online, please do NOT ingest undiluted oregano oil. It MUST be diluted. Also, I've read websites that encourage use of it as a topical aid for yeast infections. Please don't do this either.

You can get oil of oregano in gel caps. I haven't been able to find documentation on whether there is an advantage to the form you use (pills vs liquid). I suppose an advantage to having the liquid is that you can change the dose, and the advantage of the pill is that you can get 6 drops without the bad taste. Mind you, you can now find empty gel capsules for sale at stores and online so that you can put whatever amount of oil you want into a pill.

Side Effects

While many herbal companies tout oregano oil's internal use, other herbalists say it's best used topically. It contains harsh phenols, which are potentially damaging to the liver and kidneys when taken at high doses for long periods of time.

Pregnant women and women who are breast feeding should NOT take oregano oil.

Oil from oregano has the capacity to lower absorption of iron from iron supplements. Therefore, it is advisable to take the oregano oil at least two hours before or after taking iron supplements.

Oregano oil may have mild side effects, but allergic reactions to oregano oil can occur. If allergic reaction symptoms develop such as facial swelling, skin rash, itching, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms occur then stop using oregano oil. If you have iron-deficiency anaemia, the oil from oregano taken internally might make your condition worse by inhibiting iron absorption from foods and supplements. It is advisable to see your doctor before taking oil of oregano.


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