Ancient civilizations like the Romans, the Chinese, and those in the middle east have used oregano medicinally throughout history.  However, the Greeks may deserve the credit to be be the first to have used oil of oregano. The word “oregano” is derived from two Greek words: “oras” which means mountain and “ganos” which means joy. Basically naming oregano “joy of the mountains.” The Greeks credited Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with creating oregano with the purpose of bringing joy to mankind. Quite the tagline – Oil of Oregano – bringing joy to mankind.

Oil of Oregano is produced from the leaves and flowers of the origanum vulgare plant species.  There are many origanum varieties, but the vulgare is what makes the oil of oregano so effective.  Some may say that “vulagare” is a good name since they believe the oil has a bit of a “vulgar” taste in your mouth.  Many of the other varieties of origanum can be used for cooking or for their lovely aroma – however the vulgare is the one that needs to be picked at its peak, especially those in the mountainous areas of Greece and Turkey, since they have the highest grade.  Then the plant needs to be distilled properly and naturally to ensure that the key medicinal actives are preserved.

That is why taking the oregano spice will not perform the same way as the oil of oregano.  The same goes for the flower essence of oregano.  They simply do not have those key medicinal actives.

Thymol and carvacrol are two phenols found in oregano oil.  Phenols are chemical compounds quite commonly found in nature.  Cloves, vanilla bean and mint plants get their taste and odor from phenols.  Phenols are found in amino acids in proteins, hormones like adrenaline, the “poison” secreted by poison ivy.

Today, all phenols used in industry are synthetic and are used for thousands of industry cleaners, disinfectants, scented candles, and as a raw material for everything from aspirin to explosives to wood preservatives.  Synthetic phenol can be a powerful disinfectant and bacteria killer, but it can be highly corrosive and toxic.  Phenols can burn skin and can cause internal damage if inhaled, and that is why they need to be used with care.

One of those phenols mentioned, carvacrol, is the key super ingredient in oil of oregano because that is the one that has been shown to help break through the outer cell membranes that protects the bacteria from the immune system. Studies have shown that oil of oregano is effective at killing bacteria, and could also help the immune system take better action against viruses, fungi and parasites.

When you consider all facets that are concerned with achieving a level approach to wellness – movement (exercise), food, sleep, etc – quality not quantity should always be your highest level of concern.

That is why when considering an oil of oregano, the quality of the oil is of utmost importance then.  For if the quality is not high, then the original medicinal properties of why the greeks and other societies has used this plant, you need to consider:

  • Was the plant grown in the wild or farm raised?
  • Is it a high carvacrol species vs a low carvacrol?  How much of that super ingredient is actually in there?
  • Is it relatively low in thymol?
  • Is it extracted in a natural process?
  • It is free of all chemical and pesticide residues?

A study released in 2001 by a Georgetown researcher found that oil of oregano be an effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug-resistant bacteria.  Two studies have shown that oregano oil—and, in particular, carvacrol, appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics.  Harry G. Preuss, MD, MACN, CNS, professor of physiology and biophysics, said of his research teams study:

“While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant further study.  The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidals under a variety of conditions.”

Uses for Oil of Oregano

  • According to the Huffington post – One lab test in 2001 found that oregano oil was effective in killing staphylococcus bacteria, and another published laboratory study out of the UK found that it showed effectiveness against 25 different bacteria.”  It is said that Oil of oregano, when properly distilled from the flowers and leaves of the oregano plant, could be one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics.
  • A couple of drops on the skin at the sternum.  On the feet.  Rubbed into your shin which helps with lymphatics because this is where they are attached.
  • Some uses for oil of oregano has been used on potential gum infections OR jaw infections caused from a tooth abscess.
  • To help your immune system fight a respiratory infection, put one drop of oil of oregano in a bowl of steaming water. Put a towel loosely over your head and inhale the steam once a day until you feel better.
  • Due to the anti-inflammatory effects, some experts have advocated the use oil of oregano to treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Combine equal amounts of oregano oil and coconut oil and apply it to your problem areas with a cotton swab before you go to bed.
  • Oil of oregano also contains thymol, an ingredient used in many mouthwashes to combat bacteria, plaque and bad breath. Try adding a drop or two of oil of oregano on your toothbrush with or without toothpaste.

Personally, I like using it a bit more frequently when the seasons begin to change, and will use 1 or 2 drops daily in the morning.  If I feel like “something is coming on” then I might take a few more. drops  Some will claim that if you take too much, you can start killing some good bacteria as well, which is valid, but I rather get the bad out first, but if you are taking more than 30 drops a day, I have heard from a doctor that at that time, you may want to supplement with a high quality probiotic.

The therapeutic use of oregano oil should be avoided in infants and children, and pregnant or nursing women. It also should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or a heart condition. Again, it is always a good idea to talk to a doctor and to disclose your use of alternative therapies in case of contraindications with other medications or treatments.

In her great little book “Oregano Oil” Joyce Johnson ND writes that about 1,000 pounds of oreganum vulgre is needed to make one pound of oil.  Johnson feels that “this is why superior medicinal quality oregano oil is quite expensive.  However, it is also very potent and a little goes a long way as a natural remedy or treatment, making this healing herb a good investment.”