We owe our lives to antibiotics. Ever since they were developed in the 1940s, antibiotics have been our primary medicinal allies, wiping out potentially deadly infections. Bacteria is a clever adversary, and unfortunately, it is catching on and becoming resistant to once-effective drugs such as penicillin and vancomycin. The FDA considers antibiotic resistance a major public health threat. Researchers, doctors, and health practitioners around the world have turned to natural antibiotics to help mitigate growing antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics also strip your gut of healthful, life-giving, brain-boosting bacteria, reduce vitamin absorption, and damage your intestinal lining. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed how the commonly prescribed antibiotic Erythromycin increased the risk of dying from a cardiovascular complication by 250%!
Oregano oil is a promising alternative that is 100% antibiotic resistant-free.
Oil of oregano, distilled to extract the essential oils and preserve the botanical’s medicinal components, is the ultimate natural antibiotic. But, do oregano oil side effects outweigh the benefits? Let’s find out!
What Is Oregano?
Used fresh and dried, oregano is an essential kitchen herb, perfect for flavoring up Greek, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisines. While there are health benefits to be had from adding oregano herb to your foods, the true medicinal benefits of the plant are highly concentrated in oil of oregano. Pure oil of oregano is extracted from the leaves of the oregano plant origanum vulgare and has a higher concentration of antiseptic phenols than the common kitchen spice in your cupboard (origanum majorana). When it comes to benefiting from oregano’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antiviral properties the oil is the way to go.
Oregano Oil Health Benefits
Oregano oil is a nutrient powerhouse. It’s got:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Fiber folate
…and has one of the highest ORACS of any food. Its antioxidant capacity (how well it destroys free radicals and protects against premature aging and disease) is 42 times higher than an apple’s.
“…On a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.”
That’s a lot of antioxidant power!
Oregano oil is also highly concentrated in carvacrol and thymol—two potent phytochemicals with antimicrobial and antibacterial capabilities. Scientists recently discovered that oregano is a better treatment for giardia than the prescription drug commonly prescribed to treat the illness. In fact, PubMed, the world’s largest database of scientific evidence-based literature, cites 800 studies on the proven health benefits of carvacrol, including decreasing or reversing:
- Fungal infections
- Bacterial infections
Some health experts say that oregano oil is as effective as streptomycin, penicillin, and vancomycin when it comes to fighting Staphylococcus bacteria, a strand of bacteria responsible for a variety of severe infections.
Dr. Harry G. Preuss of Georgetown University measured the effects of oregano oil on staphylococcus bacteria. The findings suggest that at relatively low doses oregano suppresses the growth of staphylococcus bacteria as effectively as streptomycin, penicillin, and vancomycin do. Preuss says, “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.”
The Journal of Applied Microbiology has reported that of 52 plant oils tested, oil of oregano exhibits “pharmacologic” action against 25 different types of bacteria, such as Candida albicans (yeast), E.coli, Salmonella enterica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Oil of oregano also helps eradicate parasites, as indicated in Phytotherapy Research. After six weeks supplementing with oil of oregano, fourteen patients were cleared of the intestinal parasites that plagued them: Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni, and Endolimax nana.
Oregano Oil Side Effects
So, we can ascertain that oregano oil health benefits are numerous, but are there any side effects of taking oregano oil?
Firstly, it’s a highly potent medicinal, and as such should be used with caution and for acute conditions, not long term. If you are generally healthy, not pregnant or breastfeeding, not on any prescription drugs (especially blood thinners), and not diabetic, then oil of oregano should be safe to take under the guidance of a health practitioner. Beyond a possible upset stomach, the side effects are mild to none.
Here are the contraindications:
- Do not take if you are pregnant or nursing
- Do not take if you are allergic to other botanicals in the Lamiaceae family (basil, marjoram, mint, lavender hyssop, sage)
- Do not take if you have a bleeding disorder or are on blood thinners
- Only take under the supervision of a medical doctor if you have diabetes
- Do not take 2 weeks before surgery, as oregano oil can increase your risk of bleeding
The verdict: If you are generally healthy, then oregano oil health benefits—treating toenail fungus…candida…yeast infections…UTIs…sinus infections…allergies…bronchitis and croup…ringworm and athlete’s foot…gingivitis…cold viruses—far outweigh oregano oil side effects.
How to Take Oregano Oil
To apply oil of oregano topically, mix 1 drop per 1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil and apply to area.
To take oil of oregano internally, dilute 3-4 drops of oregano oil (standardized to a minimum 70% carvacrol content) in water and drink 3-4 times daily. Because oil of oregano is such a potent medicinal, most natural health experts recommend taking oregano oil for no more than two weeks at a time. If treating parasites, do so under a doctor’s supervision, and treatment may take up to six weeks.