Oregano essential oil is made from steam distilling the flowering tops of only the highest grade wild oregano (Originum vulgare), sometimes known as wild marjoram. The resulting pale-yellow liquid has a strong initial aroma and produces invigorating effects when used topically or inhaled. Considered stimulating and warming, the oil has a sharp, pungent, penetrating herbaceous scent. Known for its powerful health and beauty benefits, wild oregano oil is used to treat a wide variety of conditions.
You can purchase pure oregano oil at health food stores or through online vendors, but make sure to buy a reputable brand. Low-quality essential oils provide almost no therapeutic benefit. Also, make sure you’re getting oil made from Originum vulgare, as it produces the best and most valuable essential oil. Most other types of oregano are not suitable for oil-making.
History and Folklore
For thousands of years, people have used the essential oil of oregano for medicinal purposes. Greek physicians treated wounds, venomous bites and even hemlock poisoning with the oil, and Chinese healers used it to treat diarrhea and vomiting. In the 17th century, oregano oil was touted as a sure-fire remedy for head colds throughout Britain, and its use soon spread around the world.
Early American colonists used oregano to treat menstrual cramps and stomach problems. As early as the 19th century, doctors began using oregano essential oil to induce menstruation. Today, herbalists still prescribe the oil for many of these same problems, and even modern research has begun to examine its mechanisms of action and efficacy for treating various specific disorders.
Modern Medicinal Uses
Today, aromatherapists and herbalists value oregano essential oil for its healing, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. The substance is toxic to many microorganisms, which makes it effective in treating fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot. It’s often used in natural remedies such as salves and ointments for treating various skin conditions. The oil is widely used to treat candida infections, though well-constructed clinical trials proving its effectiveness for this purpose are lacking. It is also used to disinfect the skin, wounds and burns in topical washes and other applications.
There are many other reported oregano essential oil benefits, including treating asthma and respiratory infections. The oil is believed to clear the bronchial passages of mucus and reduce inflammation. Popular around cold and flu season, oregano essential oils have a reputation for preventing these viruses and treating their symptoms. The oil is sometimes used as protection against food borne illnesses. Although science has yet to confirm many of these claims, anecdotal evidence suggests oregano oil may provide some health benefits. Research has found it particularly effective against parasites, viruses, fungi and yeast.
Because of its strength, oregano essential oil is not often used in cosmetics. It can cause minor burns to the skin when applied undiluted. Combined with a carrier oil or in preparations such as lotions or soaps, however, the oil is safe to use topically. Sometimes, the oil is used in home acne remedies to disinfect the area and prevent bacterial growth, but it must be diluted properly to avoid irritation. In other homemade cosmetics, oregano essential oil makes an excellent choice for acne-prone skin, or for use during a fungal infection. It also makes a nice addition to mouthwashes for infected teeth or gums.
As a nerve tonic, oregano essential oil calms and quiets the mind, body and spirit. It is relaxing and can help overcome insomnia. In aromatherapy, the oil is used to ease irritability and tension, reduce stress and anxiety, and restore emotional balance. The oil is believed to clarify thinking and promote a positive attitude. Try adding a single drop to a cotton ball and sniffing while you’re performing an important mental task to reap oregano’s emotional benefits.
Avoid using oregano essential oil during pregnancy, as it may stimulate menstruation. Do not use topically without diluting first (1 drop to 1 ounce carrier oil). Also, make sure that the primary ingredient in the oil is carvacrol – not thymol. Essential oils high in thymol are not considered safe for therapeutic use. Do take more than 14 drops internally two or three times daily without first consulting a qualified health care professional.
Before using oregano essential oil topically, always apply a tiny amount of the diluted solution on the back of your arm. Wait at least an hour, preferably overnight, and if no irritation occurs, it’s likely safe to use that particular dilution on a larger area.
You can enjoy oregano essential oil in a variety of ways. The most simple, of course, is to place a single drop on a tissue or cotton ball and inhale to increase mental clarity. You may also inhale the oil during a cold or the flu to reduce inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Other suggested uses for oregano oil include:
- For treating athlete’s foot, ringworm and other fungal infections, make an oregano ointment by combining 2 drops oregano essential oil with 2 oz. coconut oil. Rub the mixture into the affected area once or twice daily until the infection subsides.
- For treating colds and respiratory ailments, mix 5 drops oregano oil with 1 to 2 cups very hot (but not quite boiling) water in a large bowl or pan. Place on a steady surface where you can sit comfortably. Drape a towel over your head, making a tent, and inhale the steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
- For healing warts, combine 2 drops oregano essential oil with 2 oz. castor oil and apply directly to the affected area in a circular motion at least three times a day. Folk legend says you should rub warts with the oil ten times in a circle in the same direction at each application, but this most likely doesn’t enhance the treatment’s effects.
- For a powerful all-purpose cleaner, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 2 tsp. liquid castile soap and 25 drops oregano essential oil in a large spray bottle. Shake well before each use. This cleaner works well in kitchens and bathrooms. It’s antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial. In fact, oregano essential oil is 26 more times as powerful an antiseptic than phenol, a common ingredient in commercial cleaning products.
- Lavender Essential Oil Lavender essential oil is obtained from the flowers of Lavandula...
- Peppermint Essential Oil Peppermint essential oil is made from steam distilling mature peppermint...
- Patchouli Essential Oil Patchouli essential oil is obtained by steam distilling the dried...
- Bergamot Essential Oil Bergamot essential oil, extracted from the bergamot orange tree (Citrus...
- Frankincense Essential Oil The small, shrub-like frankincense tree (Boswellia carteri or Boswellia thurifera)...