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Oregano Oil: Science-Based Benefits, Uses, and Dosage

Derived from the common culinary herb oregano, this concentrated oil contains potent bioactive compounds that provide antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Often hailed as nature’s antibiotic, oregano oil is a powerful ally in supporting the body’s natural defenses and overall well-being.

But does oregano oil live up to the hype? Can it be used as a natural alternative to prescription medications? What benefits does the research actually support?

This complete guide provides science-backed information on oregano oil, including its benefits, proper uses, dosage recommendations, safety precautions, and frequently asked questions.

Let’s explore why so many consider oregano oil a must-have addition to their natural medicine cabinet.

What is Oregano Oil?

Oregano oil is derived by steam distilling leaves of the oregano plant (Origanum vulgare) to produce a concentrated liquid extract. It should not be confused with common culinary oregano, as essential oils contain far higher levels of active compounds. Oregano oil is typically golden to dark yellow in color.

The most abundant phytochemicals in oregano oil are phenolic compounds like carvacrol and thymol. These polyphenols provide antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Oregano oil is sold in liquid form and as gel capsules. The strength varies, so always follow dosage recommendations carefully and do not exceed.

5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Oregano Oil

Extensive research has been carried out on the potential benefits of oregano oil. Here are 5 of the most notable ways it may support health when used appropriately:

  1. Powerful Antimicrobial Properties

Studies have found oregano oil to be highly effective against bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity rivals prescription antibiotics.

Specific infections it may help fight include:

  • E. coli and food poisoning bacteria
  • Candida yeast overgrowth
  • parasites like blastocystis hominis
  • Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections
  • Respiratory viruses causing cold and flu

The antibacterial effects make oregano oil useful for promoting gut health and providing intestinal support.

  1. Reduces Medication Side Effects

Exciting research shows oregano oil may help reduce adverse reactions to medications.

In one study, carvacrol decreased side effects of the chemo drug methotrexate in mice. Other rodent research showed it lessened side effects of iron therapy.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity appears protective against oxidative stress and inflammation. More research is still needed to confirm the effects in humans.

  1. Aids Digestion and Reduces Discomfort

Oregano oil can relax GI muscles to aid digestion and ease discomfort from gas or occasional indigestion.

It also inhibits bacterial overgrowth. A study found oregano oil as effective as the antibiotic Xifaxan for improving SIBO symptoms.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant

Chronic inflammation contributes to many modern diseases. The antioxidant content of oregano oil helps reduce oxidative damage from free radicals [10].

In mice with colitis, it prevented inflammatory damage to the colon. More studies are needed, but results suggest oregano oil may suppress inflammation.

  1. May Support Heart Health

A human trial in people with high cholesterol found oregano oil improved HDL and lowered LDL after 3 months.

The cholesterol-lowering mechanisms are not yet fully understood. But adding oregano oil appears promising for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels already in the normal range.

How to Use Oregano Oil

Oregano oil can be purchased as either an essential oil or in supplemental capsule/softgel form. Each has their own specific directions for proper use:

Using Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil is extremely potent and must be diluted before application. Using undiluted oregano oil directly on the skin can cause burning, rash, and irritation.

To dilute oregano essential oil for topical use:

  • Add 5-6 drops of oregano essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil like coconut, olive, or jojoba oil. Shake well to mix.
  • Apply diluted oregano oil to the affected area 1-3 times per day. Use for up to 1 week unless otherwise directed.
  • For foot applications, some experts recommend starting with a 10% dilution (5 drops per half ounce) and increasing to 20% (10 drops per half ounce) if tolerated.

Other safe uses of diluted oregano essential oil:

  • Diffuser: Add 2-4 drops diluted in water/carrier oil into a diffuser and inhale aromatically for up to 30 minutes per session.
  • Steam inhalation: Add 1-3 diluted drops into a bowl of steaming water. Carefully place face over the bowl with a towel draped over the head. Inhale the vapors for up to 10 minutes. Keep eyes closed to prevent irritation.
  • Capsules – Take 1 capsule daily with food. For intensive use, take 2 capsules 2-3 times daily for up to 10 days.
  • Softgels – Take 2-4 softgels daily. For short-term intensive use, take up to 4 softgels 3 times daily for up to 10 days.

For both essential oil and supplements, do not exceed dosage on the label. Using too much oregano oil increases the risk of side effects.

Using Oregano Oil Oral Supplements

Oregano oil supplements come in capsule or softgel form, with the oregano oil already diluted for internal use. Follow the dosage directions on the label:

  • Capsules: Take 1 capsule per day with food. For intensive short term use, take 2 capsules 2-3 times per day for up to 10 days.
  • Softgels: Take 2-4 softgels per day. For intensive use, take up to 4 softgels 3 times daily for up to 10 days.

Do not exceed label dosage for essential oils or supplements. Overuse increases risk of sensitivity and side effects. Maintain periodic breaks from extended use unless directed otherwise by your physician.

Oregano Oil Uses by Condition

Here are some of the most researched uses for oregano oil:

  • Cold and Flu – Take oregano oil capsules at the first sign of symptoms. For essential oil, inhale via diffuser or steam inhalation.
  • Athlete’s Foot – Dilute oregano oil and apply it to clean, dry feet twice daily. Can also use antifungal powder with added oregano oil.
  • Toenail Fungus – Apply diluted oregano oil to the nail and surrounding skin two times per day. For internal antifungal support, take capsules for up to 10 days.
  • Digestive Discomfort – Take oregano oil capsules daily. To calm indigestion, inhale essential oil via a steam tent or diffuser.
  • Food Poisoning – Take 2-4 oregano oil capsules three times daily for up to 10 days. Stay hydrated and seek medical care for severe symptoms.
  • SIBO – Take oregano oil capsules alongside other gut healing strategies for 4-6 weeks. Work with your doctor.
  • Yeast Overgrowth – Take oregano oil capsules for 2-4 weeks as part of a comprehensive Candida treatment plan. Extended use if advised by your healthcare provider.

Always consult your physician before using oregano oil internally for health purposes. Essential oil should not be taken orally unless under medical supervision.

Oregano Oil Dosage and Guidelines

General dosage guidelines based on the concentration of active compounds are:

  • Supplements: 200-600 mg oregano oil per day
  • Essential oil (diluted): 2-4 drops, 1-3 times daily

Do not exceed dosage on the label. More is not better with concentrated essential oils. Ensure you properly dilute essential oil before applying to the skin or diffusing. Overuse increases irritation risk.

For short-term intensive use for health purposes, use the higher end of dosage for up to 10 days unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Oregano oil should not be used for more than 2-4 consecutive weeks. Take at least a 2-week break before resuming.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children should avoid oregano oil unless under medical supervision. Always discuss using essential oils internally with your doctor.

Oregano Oil Side Effects and Safety Precautions

When diluted properly and not overused, oregano oil is considered non-toxic and safe for adults. However, some people may experience side effects, including:

  • Skin irritation and rash, especially when used without dilution
  • Abdominal discomfort, nausea, or vomiting if too much is ingested

Oregano essential oil should be heavily diluted before applying it to the skin due to the risk of irritation and sensitivity reactions. Perform a patch test on a small area first.

Avoid getting essential oils near the eyes or other mucus membranes. Accidental ingestion should be treated as a poisoning – seek medical care immediately.

Do not inhale oregano essential oil if you have asthma or a respiratory condition. Discontinue use if any breathing difficulties occur.

Oregano may interact with lithium and diabetes medications. Those on prescriptions should consult their physician before using oregano oil supplements or essential oils.

Frequently Asked Questions about Oregano Oil

  1. Is oregano oil safe to take internally?

Oregano oil capsules can be taken internally when following package directions. Start with low doses and do not exceed recommended servings. Avoid long term use without periodic breaks.

  1. What’s the difference between oregano oil and regular oregano?

Oregano essential oil contains concentrated phenolic compounds, including carvacrol and thymol. Culinary oregano uses the dried herb, which contains only trace amounts of these actives. Oregano oil provides much higher antimicrobial and therapeutic benefits.

  1. Can you put oregano oil directly on your skin?

Dilution is strongly recommended before applying oregano essential oil on the skin due to the risk of irritation and reactions in those with sensitivity. Mix with a carrier oil and perform a patch test before broader use. Some use oregano oil undiluted short term for foot soaks or as part of rinses. But caution is advised.

  1. Is oregano oil good for sinus infections?

Some clinical evidence supports oregano oil’s ability to fight infection, including respiratory illnesses. Adding a few drops to a diffuser or steam inhalation may boost sinus health during illness. Oregano oil capsules may provide internal immune support as well.

  1. Can you take oregano oil on an empty stomach?

Taking oregano oil capsules with food is best to minimize potential stomach upset. If taking the essential oil internally under medical guidance, your doctor will provide specific instructions.

The Power of Oregano Oil

With over 4,000 years of traditional use and modern clinical research backing its safety and efficacy when used appropriately, oregano oil is a valuable addition to natural medicine regimens.

If you have any health conditions or are currently on medication, check with your doctor before using. But don’t underestimate the antimicrobial and therapeutic potential of this ancient remedy.

Oregano oil can be a powerful part of maintaining wellness when appropriately used. Just be sure to source high-quality oil, follow dosage guidelines, and handle it carefully.

About the author

Holden Desalles is a journalist in the new wellness space, covering topics such as CBD, adaptogens, and nootropics. He was formerly a staff writer at the millennial lifestyle website Thought Catalog.

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