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Oil of Oregano: Broad-spectrum Antimicrobial


Written by Dr. Jewel Alfoure, ND

There is no arguing that the land of the Mediterranean has gifted the world with the most unique of flavours. 

Thus, It is no surprise that the native land of the only diet that is scientifically proven to be the “taste of health” packs tons of health benefits in every single ingredient of its food (1).

Whether you are thinking of the perfect, authentic flavour of Italian pizza or the salacious kick in Greek souvlaki, the Mediterranean cuisine, as a whole, relies on the aromatic compounds of many medicinal botanicals like rosemary, thyme, and parsley. 

One particular botanical that shines in the Mediterranean cuisine is Origanum vulgare

Oregano or what is also known as Wild Marjoram is a botanical with a unique aromatic signature.

It is described to have a woody, robust, savoury, pungent, peppery, bitter, herbaceous flavour. 

Those flavours point to a vast array of aromatic chemical constituents. 

Some of the most prominent constituents in Oregano include carvacrol, β-fenchyl alcohol, thymol, and γ-terpinene and many other phenolic compounds (2, 3).

The well-orchestrated symphony of flavours doesn’t just work to tempt the senses, it is also perfectly harmonized to provide many health benefits on its way. 

Scientific evidence shows that a single constituent in Oregano oil, known as carvacrol, has the following therapeutic potential:

  • Antimicrobial

  • Anti-fungal

  • Anti-tumour

  • Anti-mutagenic

  • Antigentoxic

  • Analgesic

  • Antispasmodic

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antiangiogenic

  • Anti-parasitic

  • Anti-platelet

  • Anatielastase

  • Insecticidal

  • Anti-hepatotoxic

  • Hepatoprotective (4,5)

High carvacrol oil of oregano was studied in many clinical trials and shows significant therapeutic potential for many skin conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, lung conditions, infectious conditions, allergies and pain-related conditions (3-5).

 

Oregano oil for Gastrointestinal Health- That Pizza Slice You Left On the Counter Overnight

Oil of oregano is a potent anti-microbial agent with evidence pointing towards its effectiveness as an antibiotic against bacteria including Staphylococcus aureas, Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (6,7).

As it is also carminative, or stomach calming. Oil of Oregano can be the perfect remedy for when you eat something that was left outside of the fridge overnight (8). 

Oil of Oregano is not only effective as a short-term solution for gas, flatulence and discomfort caused by food poisoning, it also has the potential to pair well with antibiotic therapy (6).

As oil of Oregano is shown to be effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, many naturopaths use it as adjunctive therapy for cases of resistant stomach ulcers to boost the potential of triple therapy (6-8).

Avincina’s Treatment of Stomach Ulcers 

Traditional uses of oregano were many in the Mediterranean region.

European Oregano was used mostly as a stomach tonic and a treatment for bacterial problems. 

Following the map of the Mediterranean east reveals a different focus for oregano that is based on the needs of the area. 

In his Cannon of Medicine, Avincina spoke of many different botanicals from the mint family.

It appears that the one that is most likely to be our modern-day Oregano was recommended for parasitic infections and was usually added to an immune tonic like Black seed (Nigella sativa(9). 

Black seed was utilized as a promoter of healthy immunity, anti-microbial and potent mucosal soother (10). 

The literature points towards Oregano’s potent anti-parasitic action verifying the medieval potion’s medicinal potential. 

Botanicals That Complete Eachother

Studies also show that Black seed oil may help with digestive problems,  and can have anti-autoimmune potentials. To learn more about Black seed Click Here

The medieval medical practitioners of the Ottoman Empire spoke of the benefits of chewing Mastic gum, the resin of the plant Pistacia lentiscus for chronic stomach problems (10). 

Some texts refer to the use of Oregano as a flavouring agent to boost the capabilities of Mastic gum at harmonizing the stomach and getting rid of conditions that are described much like modern-day peptic ulcers (11).  

Interestingly modern science shows that there is significant therapeutic potential, in terms of H.pylori, for all the ingredients used traditionally for stomach ulcers (13). 

Clinical trials show that oil of Oregano, Black seed oil and Mastic gum, all exhibit gastric healing potential and potent anti-microbial properties (10-13). 

Nature’s Own Antimicrobial of Choice 

S.aurous is not only responsible for many cases of food poisoning, it is also a common opportunistic infectious agent of the skin. 

Many skin-related infections may be prevented with the application of a topical anti-microbial. 

Oil of Oregano offers the benefits of a two-in-one agent as it is an anti-bacterial, anti-viral anti-fungal agent (6).

Many topical antibiotics remove the competitive pressure off of bacteria and may significantly encourage fungal growth. 

Moreover, many topical therapeutic agents like corticosteroids significantly encourage the growth of bacteria and fungus (14).

Upon the recommendation of a healthcare provider, oil of Oregano can be used alone or as an adjunctive treatment that can help significantly with the possible side effects of topical antibiotics and corticosteroid creams.

It may also be beneficial to consult a medical practitioner about incorporating oral oil of Oregano with anti-biotic therapy, as it is shown to significantly prevent the growth of Candida albicans, the yeast responsible for thrush (15).

Nature Loves Balance!

Though antibiotics have helped us overcome many infectious diseases, science is finding out more and more that they are not the answer to every question. 

Nature always loves balance and when the balance of nature is disrupted, there is always a consequence. 

The fine-tuned balance of the human microbiome, when explored, itches into the realm of science fiction with its intricate balance and healing capabilities. 

The relationship humans have with their microbiome should not be actively disrupted.

One must be careful when manipulating a symbiotic relationship established through generations of partnership.

This partnership comes with sacred rules and benefits that are bound to remain a mysterious tale etched partially on our genetic material and partially on the genetic material of our life-long microbial partners (16). 

Though we are aware of only small snippets of the story, our current knowledge about our microbiome reveals that: 

  1. Our microbiome outnumbers our human cells by 10 to 1 to be exact. 

  2. The Human Microbiome is comprised of bacteria, fungi, viruses and even archaea

  3. The balance of all the different species of the human microbiome is directly linked to our health

  4. Antibiotics directly disrupt the balance of the human microbiome

  5. Replacing antibiotic-killed bacteria with probiotics is only the beginning of probiotic therapy (17). 

Oil of Oregano A Smart Antimicrobial 

Many studies point towards the therapeutic potential of Oil of Oregano for Immunity and Lung Health.

The plant’s aromatic compounds make it an excellent tonic for the respiratory system (18). 

As with its effect on the skin, oil of Oregano offers the same broad-spectrum microbial control for the upper respiratory tract. 

Such a unique quality makes it an excellent choice for conditions that are not established to be bacterial, viral or fungal in nature.

Additionally, the versatility of the oil of Oregano makes it a great agent to combine with other supplements and antibiotics (13, 6,14,18). 

 

References 

  1. Altomare R, Cacciabaudo F, Damiano G, Palumbo VD, Gioviale MC, Bellavia M, Tomasello G, Monte AI. The mediterranean diet: a history of health. Iranian journal of public health. 2013;42(5):449.

  2. Teixeira B, Marques A, Ramos C, Serrano C, Matos O, Neng NR, Nogueira JM, Saraiva JA, Nunes ML. Chemical composition and bioactivity of different oregano (Origanum vulgare) extracts and essential oil. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2013 Aug 30;93(11):2707-14.

  3. Veenstra JP, Johnson JJ. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) extract for food preservation and improvement in gastrointestinal health. International journal of nutrition. 2019;3(4):43.

  4. Sharifi‐Rad M, Varoni EM, Iriti M, Martorell M, Setzer WN, del Mar Contreras M, Salehi B, Soltani‐Nejad A, Rajabi S, Tajbakhsh M, Sharifi‐Rad J. Carvacrol and human health: A comprehensive review. Phytotherapy Research. 2018 Sep;32(9):1675-87.

  5. Silva ER, de Carvalho FO, Teixeira LG, Santos NG, Felipe FA, Santana HS, Shanmugam S, Quintans Júnior LJ, de Souza Araújo AA, Nunes PS. Pharmacological effects of carvacrol in in Vitro studies: a review. Current pharmaceutical design. 2018 Aug 1;24(29):3454-65.

  6. Sienkiewicz M, Wasiela M, Głowacka A. The antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil (Origanum heracleoticum L.) against clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Medycyna doswiadczalna i mikrobiologia. 2012 Jan 1;64(4):297-307.

  7. Nostro A, Roccaro AS, Bisignano G, Marino A, Cannatelli MA, Pizzimenti FC, Cioni PL, Procopio F, Blanco AR. Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms. Journal of medical microbiology. 2007 Apr 1;56(4):519-23.

  8. Charles DJ. Oregano. InAntioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources 2012 (pp. 449-458). Springer, New York, NY.

  9. Abdallah EM. Black Seed (Nigella sativa) as antimicrobial drug: a mini-review. Novel Approches in Drug Designing and Develop. 2017;3(2):1-5.

  10. Tavakkoli A, Mahdian V, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. Review on clinical trials of black seed (Nigella sativa) and its active constituent, thymoquinone. Journal of pharmacopuncture. 2017 Sep;20(3):179.

  11. Sharif Sharifi M, Hazell SL. Fractionation of mastic gum in relation to antimicrobial activity. Pharmaceuticals. 2009 Jun;2(1):2-10.

  12. Mosaffa-Jahromi M, Afsharypuor S. Pharmacological effects of Origanum vulgare L.: From Iranian traditional medicine to modern phytotherapy. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 2015 Oct 2;5.

  13. Chun SS, Vattem DA, Lin YT, Shetty K. Phenolic antioxidants from clonal oregano (Origanum vulgare) with antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori. Process Biochemistry. 2005 Feb 1;40(2):809-16.

  14. Fraczek MG, Chishimba L, Niven RM, Bromley M, Simpson A, Smyth L, Denning DW, Bowyer P. Corticosteroid treatment is associated with increased filamentous fungal burden in allergic fungal disease. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2018 Aug 1;142(2):407-14.

  15. Manohar V, Ingram C, Gray J, Talpur NA, Echard BW, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans. Molecular and cellular biochemistry. 2001 Dec;228(1):111-7.

  16. Van der Meulen TA, Harmsen HJ, Bootsma H, Spijkervet FK, Kroese FG, Vissink A. The microbiome–systemic diseases connection. Oral diseases. 2016 Nov;22(8):719-34.

  17. Wu GD, Lewis JD. Analysis of the human gut microbiome and association with disease. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology: the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. 2013 Jul;11(7).

  18. Ben-Arye E, Dudai N, Eini A, Torem M, Schiff E, Rakover Y. Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 2011 Jan 1;2011.