We are all familiar with oregano plant (Origanum vulgare) as a favorite spice in Italian foods, but you may not know that it is also an excellent medicinal herb. When prepared as an essential oil, oregano boasts a wide variety of healing powers. Oregano origanum vulgare is also a useful ingredient in homemade (and some commercial) cleaning and personal care products.
In this article, we will explain the benefits of oregano oil and offer some suggestions to help you make the best use of this versatile essential oil. Read on to learn more.
Choose And Buy Your Oregano Oil Carefully
To reap the maximum health benefits of oregano oil, one must choose and buy this essential oil wisely. Oregano grows best in mountainous regions, and the word “oregano” is Greek for “mountain joy.” This European herb is related to mint. It is hardy and adaptable and has naturalized in many different locations worldwide. Wild oregano oil, the best oregano product came from wild oregano plants can grow to about three feet high. They bear attractive, richly scented dark green inch long leaves.
The highest quality fresh oregano oil like this one smells strong and spicy and is a deep shade of gold. There are more than forty different varieties of oregano, and most have some therapeutic and personal care benefits. But the Origanum vulgare varieties produce the most potent oil, which grows naturally in Mediterranean regions, and the Thymus capitatus, which is a native of Spain.
What’s in Oil of Oregano?
Oregano contains a wealth of antioxidant phytochemical compounds known as phenols. It contains carvacrol and thymol, two of the most prominent. Here are the chemical compounds in oregano essential oils:
1. Thymol is an immune system booster that also has very powerful antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It can help defend the body against damage caused by toxins, and helps promote healing caused by exposure to toxins. It is a prominent ingredient in antiseptic mouthwash because it is especially effective against the bacteria, Listeria.
2. Carvacrol is a potent anti-bacterial agent. Thymol and carvacrol make a great combo as thymol has been shown to be effective against such heavy hitters as:
- Aspergillus Mold
- Candida albicans
- E. coli
3. Rosmarinic acid is an antioxidant and antihistamine that has some powerful effects, such as:
- Reducing swelling and fluid buildup associated with allergies.
- Addressing problems caused by allergic asthma
- Helping prevent atherosclerosis
- Preventing free radicals
- Warding off cancer
4. Beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP) is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. It is very helpful in reducing pain associated with metabolic syndrome, arteriosclerosis, and osteoporosis.
5. Naringin boosts the antioxidant properties of oregano oil, and it is also useful in preventing cancer cell growth.
6. Terpenes found in this natural oil also deliver very powerful antibacterial properties.
Vitamins & Minerals A Nutritious Essential Oil
Oil of oregano is surprisingly nutritious for an essential oil. It contains significant amounts of:
Why Does Oil of Oregano Work?
Some of the chemicals found in this potent oil act as cough suppressants and anti-spasmodic agents. The oil also has properties that can help increase bile flow, battle fungus, viruses, bacteria and intestinal parasites because it contains some very strong and very effective medicinal compounds.
One such compound is Carvacrol, which is a potent, antimicrobial agent used in many over the counter and prescription medicines and products. This substance can penetrate the outer membranes of bacteria cells’ membranes and take them to task when your immune system is not capable of tackling them.
Oil of oregano is useful for treating a wide variety of common ailments including:
It can also be used topically to treat:
For culinary purposes, it has value as a spice and as a preservative. Oregano used as a whole spice and as an oil can help prevent foodborne illnesses caused by pathogens such as:
- Shigella dysenteria
- E. coli
After the fact, it can also be useful in treating food poisoning and its symptoms.
There Are Many Ways To Make Practical Use Of Oil Of Oregano
1. Infections & Parasites:
As a treatment of or preventative against internal infections and parasites, some use a 50/50 combination of oregano oil like this bestseller / coconut oil sublingually (beneath the tongue). Place a couple of drops of this mixture underneath your tongue and hold it for about 15 minutes.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. Do this four times a day for about a week as a monthly preventative against intestinal problems or as a treatment if you are experiencing intestinal distress.
2. Upper Respiratory Problems:
Oil of oregano makes an excellent addition to your humidifier or a pot of steaming water to alleviate symptoms of colds, allergies, and sinus problems. Add about a dozen drops of oil per quart of hot water.
Add the oil after the water has been boiled and removed from heat. You don’t want to boil the oil as this might compromise its effectiveness.
Once you have a good head of steam built up, drape a large, thick towel over your head and position your face over the steaming water or humidifier. Breathe in the steam to help open your nasal passages, loosen phlegm and soothe and your inflamed sinuses.
3. Foot Fungus:
To treat athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, add a tablespoonful of oil of oregano to a gallon of hot water and give your feet a good soak. Dry your feet thoroughly and provide them with a bit of a sunbath if you can.
Follow up by massaging your feet with pure virgin coconut oil (which has anti-fungal properties of its own). Treat affected areas of your feet and nails with a combination of one teaspoonful of coconut oil and one drop of oregano oil.
You should see results in a couple of weeks, but continue this treatment for at least six weeks before stopping. You may need to continue on an ongoing basis to quell symptoms as foot and nail fungus are typically very stubborn.
4. Disinfect Surfaces:
Oil of oregano has lots of uses around the home. It makes a superb antiseptic surface cleaner by just combining:
- 1 gallon of very warm water
- 6 drops of Oil of Oregano
- 12 drops of Oil of Lemon
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
Stir the mixture thoroughly and allow it to cool enough to decant into a spray bottle. Use this mixture as a spray on, wipe off surface cleaner. Be sure to shake it up thoroughly before each use to disperse the oils evenly throughout the mix.
Even Its Scent Is Effective!
Because of its pleasant, spicy scent and its health-supporting antiseptic properties, oil of oregano is an excellent choice for aromatherapy use. Inhaled as steam or used as an addition to a scented body oil, it can have a positive and uplifting effect on your overall health.
Used as an aromatic, it will also help keep pesky mosquitoes and other pests away from you. Use it full strength as a treatment for outdoor furnishings to keep mosquitoes and flies away from outdoor seating areas. Just sprinkle a few drops of the oil in an inconspicuous part of the furniture (just in case of spotting or discoloration).
You can also use a dilute solution of oregano oil and a carrier oil as a personal insect repellent applied topically.
Use Oregano Oil As A Topical Anti-Inflammatory
If you get bitten by bugs or a spider, a mixture of one ounce of olive oil to 6 drops of oregano oil applied to the bite makes one of the best natural remedies as it will help reduce inflammation and itching.
This combination is also effective when used on rashes caused by allergic reaction to plants (e.g. poison oak or ivy) or rash caused by fungal infection (e.g. ringworm, athlete’s foot). A stronger 50-50 mixture can be used by the drop to treat acne sores and rosacea.
If you have a sore throat or a toothache, try adding six drops of oil of oregano to an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Swish it in your mouth for a toothache. Gargle for a sore throat.
Drink this mixture down, as an excellent tonic against any infection. However, spit out the first couple of mouthfuls you swish or gargle to get rid of any germs or bacteria associated with your sore throat or a toothache.
If you have aches and pains caused by strained or sprained muscles, menstrual cramps, overused joints or even rheumatoid arthritis, massaging with a combination of coconut oil (1 ounce) and oil of oregano (6 drops) can help.
For more relief, drink a glass of water with six drops of oil of oregano. The anti-inflammatory properties can bring you relief inside and out.
Is It Safe To Use Oregano Oil?
You should understand that oregano essential oil is strong stuff! You should not use it at full strength either topically or orally. Always dilute oregano oil with a carrier oil. You also should not use it on open wounds or broken skin as it may burn and may cause further damage.
You should not use this oil internally on a regular, ongoing basis. If you take it orally as a tonic to prevent infection or parasite infestation, you should not take more than half a dozen drops a day for no longer than a week. You can do this once a month as a preventative.
When treating an infection or infestation, take a ten-day course, but then give yourself a break of a week to ten days to see how your condition responds.
If you follow the suggestions presented here and carefully dilute the oil with a carrier substance (oil, water, aloe vera gel, vinegar) at a rate of no more than 6 drops per ounce you should be able to use the oil safely on your skin on an ongoing basis. If you are taking it orally, do not exceed ten days duration.
Just as with any essential oil, you should do a patch test to be sure you are not allergic or sensitive to this oil before using it extensively. Mix it 50-50 with a carrier oil and place a single drop on the delicate skin of your inner forearm. Wait 24 hours. If there is any irritation or discoloration, consult your health professional before proceeding.
When you purchase Oil of Oregano, be sure to read the label. Don’t buy oil mixtures. Get pure oils as mentioned earlier.
Can You Make Your Own Oregano Oil?
You cannot make your own essential oil as this requires a very intensive distillation process. You can infuse the carrier oil of your choice with natural oregano oil from plants grown in your garden. Oregano is outrageously easy to grow, so this is a great way to preserve your crop and save a ton of money. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Carrier oil such as grapeseed, almond, olive or coconut
- Thoroughly dried oregano leaves and flowers
- Sanitized containers, such as Mason jars
- A slow cooker
You’ll want to boil your jars and have them still warm and dry as you combine your ingredients. They don’t have to be kept hot, just don’t allow the jars to become cold. When suddenly exposed to warm oil or water you run the risk of having them break.
Here’s What You’ll Do:
1. Prepare Your Slow Cooker
Line the bottom of your crock pot with a folded kitchen towel to cushion your glass jars and protect them from direct heat. Put water in the crock to warm. It should be about half full.
Set the temperature on the “warm” or “low” setting. Your goal is a consistent temperature of 100-120 degrees. If you do not have a slow cooker, you can use a dehydrator that has temperature control capabilities. A yogurt maker will also work.
2. Select & Prepare Your Carrier Oil
There are some excellent oils you can use for making infusions. Among them are:
No matter what kind of oil you choose, it should be warm and liquid throughout the process. Place your container(s) of oil in a tub or sink full of warm water at the outset.
3. Prepare Your Oregano
You can use both flowers and leaves of the plant for infusion. If you are using oregano grown in your garden, it’s best to dry it thoroughly before using it in an infusion.
The moisture in the leaves and flowers can contaminate your infusion and cause mold to grow. If you grow oregano, don’t use pesticides. If you buy dried oregano, be sure to choose organic. Otherwise, you will have pesticide in your infusion.
To prepare your dried herbs, you’ll need a big bowl. Rub the dry herbs between the palms of your hands to release the oils. Once you have a bowl full of crushed, dry oregano, measure it out into your clean jars. The herbs should fill the jars to about the halfway mark or a bit less.
4. Add Warm Oil
Pour your chosen oil over the oregano and stir it gently to be sure that you comletely coat the dried herbs. This also allows any trapped air to escape. There should be about an inch of space between the top of the oil and the top of the jar.
Place the lids on your jars and carefully set the jars on the towel in your slow cooker. Leave them undisturbed for a period of 8-12 hours. Check the temperature of the water from time to time and adjust as needed.
6. Cool & Decant
When 8-12 hours have passed, unplug your slow cooker and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, you can strain the oregano out of the oil and decant the infused oil into clean glass bottles or jars with tightly fitting lids.
7. Label & Store
Label your jars with the date, and store them carefully in a cool, dark cabinet or your basement. Your home-infused oils can last for a year or longer if stored correctly.
How To Use Infusions
This oregano oil infusion is a milder product that will not require diluting for many purposes; although, you may wish to dilute it further for some uses.
Since your homemade infusion will be a unique product, you may need to do a bit of experimentation to determine just how strong it is and how much you wish to dilute it for various purposes.
Proceed carefully, and you should be able to safely use your infusion in all the ways we have described in this article.