This oil is available to use orally, unlike oregano essential oil, which is much more concentrated and used in aromatherapy. People should not take essential oils by mouth.
Whether a person applies it topically or takes an oral supplement, oregano oil may be helpful for a range of conditions.
Compounds in the oil have effective antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which explain many of the benefits.
There are some risks and potential issues to consider before using oregano oil, and it may not be right for everyone. This article covers 10 of the most promising health benefits of oregano oil.
What is oregano oil?
Oregano, or Origanum vulgare, is a small, bushy plant that belongs to the mint family. It is a familiar culinary herb in Italian dishes.
Oregano oil contains high levels of important compounds in its leaves and smaller stems. Oil manufacturers dry the leaves and stems, then steam-distill the plant matter to extract as many compounds as possible.
Oregano oil contains:
- carvacrol, the main active compound in oregano oil and a type of antioxidant called a phenol
- thymol, which may help protect against toxins and fight fungal infections
While oregano oil contains a significant amount, the compound thymol occurs most abundantly in thyme.
Some sources claim that oregano oil may help reduce inflammation. The compound carvacrol shows anti-inflammatory effects in both animal models and in vitro studies.
Research from 2017 looked at a variety of investigations into carvacrol’s anti-inflammatory effects.
In one study on mice, the compound prevented obesity by affecting the genes involved in inflammation. In another animal study, the compound reduced swelling.
While the results show promise, the researchers have called for more tests on humans to determine a safe dosage.
6. Healing wounds
Applying diluted oregano oil to the skin may help protect smaller cuts and scrapes on the skin as they heal.
Compounds such as thymol and carvacrol could protect these types of wound from bacterial infections.
7. Repelling insects
Both carvacrol and thymol may be effective insect-repellents. In 2017, researchers found that these compounds repelled some ticks and mosquitos. The research included test tube studies and those with human participants.
More research will help confirm this potential benefit, but rubbing diluted oregano oil on the skin may be a natural way to help repel insects.
8. Relieving pain
There is some evidence that oregano may be an effective pain reliever. An animal study found that an extract of oregano provided pain relief.
These results were dose-dependent — the more the animals took, the more pain relief they felt.
Importantly, the researchers used a water-based extract, so the oil may not provide the same results. More research in humans could help determine an appropriate dose.
9. Aiding weight loss
Oregano oil may also be a helpful tool for people looking to lose weight. Researchers have found that carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, disrupts part of the process that leads to the creation and accumulation of fat tissue.
More direct research may help provide additional evidence for these claims.
10. Fighting cancer
Some sources claim that oregano oil may help fight some cancers. One review notes that the essential oil from oregano helps prevent some types of colon cancer and breast cancer from growing in test tubes.
The oil also appeared to inhibit the growth of some lung cancer and prostate cancer cells. Much of the research in cancer comes from test tubes or animal models, so people should view the results with caution and never use oils as a replacement for medical treatment.
Be sure not to take too much oregano oil, as it is very potent. It is best to use it sparingly under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
There is significant risk of burning internal tissue if a person takes the oil orally. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Do not use oregano oil on children or infants. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with diabetes should also refrain from using it.
Oregano oil can interfere with some medications, including lithium and diuretics. Also, it is possible to be allergic to the oil.
Oregano oil is powerful and may help with a range of issues. While it can, for example, be an antimicrobial remedy, it should not replace medical treatment.
Be careful to use oregano oil and not oregano essential oil, which is much stronger and not safe to consume.
Verifying many claims about oregano oil requires more extensive research on humans.
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