Oregano is a native fragrant herb of Europe. It grows in the Mediterranean hilly region that has less pollution. It grows tall to the height of 50 cm and has purple colored leaves. The chemicals that are present in oregano bear a unique and pleasant smell. Oil of Oregano is extracted from blossoms and leaves of wild oregano plant and it has multiple uses in the kitchen. It is commonly used to flavour pasta and meat dishes. Oregano comes from words 'oros' and 'ganos' which mean mountain and joy respectively. Thus, Oregano literally means joy of mountain. Its leaves are also presented during auspicious wedding occasions.
Among 40 species of this plant, only wild Oregano called as Origanum vulgare has therapeutic medicinal value. Hence, many individuals have started consuming Oregano oil to fight infections in a natural way to avoid side effects caused by the allopathic drugs. It is believed that people in Mediterranean region lead a healthy life and have longer lifespan due to intake of oregano oil in their diet. Oil of Oregano contains essential oils which confer medicinal value and have anti-bacterial effects.
Health Benefits of Oil of Oregano
It is only the wild type of Oregano known as Origanum vulgare's oil, which is rich in anti-oxidants and possesses powerful healing capacities. Since ancient times, Greeks have used it extensively due to its numerous medicinal values. Hence, it is also called as the King of Oils. The vast benefits of oil of oregano are mentioned below:
- Anti-Bacterial Benefits of Oil of Oregano: Oil of oregano has broad range of antimicrobial effects, since it is detrimental to 90% of bacteria, fungi, mould, parasites, protozoa and yeasts infections. It is also effective against infections caused by bacterial strains with antibiotic resistance.
- Antifungal Benefits of Oil of Oregano: It is used in treating the infections caused by Candida albicans. It is also used for treatment of Athlete's feet, and psoriasis.
- Anti-inflammatory Benefits of Oil of Oregano: It treats toothache and gum disease, dental abscesses, mouth ulcers, insect and spider bites, etc.
- Benefits of Oil of Oregano for Treating Skin Conditions: It is also useful in treating skin disorders like bruising, allergies, acne, skin rashes and dandruff.
- Benefits of Oil of Oregano in Treating Respiratory Disorders: It cures respiratory disorders such as sore throat, pharyngitis, cold and flu, and sinusitis. It is also used for treating other respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and cold sores.
- Treating Other Health Conditions: Oil of oregano is also effective in treatment of diarrhea, intestinal problems, headaches, earaches and muscle pain.
- It is a natural insect repellent.
Overall, Oregano oil is a great immune booster.
Medicinal Benefits of Oil of Oregano
Oregano contains vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as fibre, folate, iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, omega fatty acids and tryptophan. It confers health benefits due to its content of different types of essential oils such as phenolic glycosides, leanolic acids and ursolic acids. The phenolic glycosides comprise about 70% of the oil and have beneficial antioxidant effects. The two most important phenols are:
- Thymol: It is a fungicide and boosts immune system.
- Carvacrol: It possesses antimicrobial effects.
The other useful compounds present in oregano oil are:
- Terpenes possess antibactierial effects.
- Rosamarinic acid is an antioxidant that is helpful in treating allergic asthma. It prevents cancer and artherosclerosis.
- Naringin is also a good antioxidant and inhibits cancer.
- Beta-Caryophyllin (E-BCP) inhibits inflammation and is beneficial for conditions such as osteoporosis and artherosclerosis.
Side Effects of Oil of Oregano
Although it is natural, it does not mean that it is always safe. There are side effects associated with the use of Oil of Oregano and hence it has to be avoided in certain cases as mentioned below:
- Oil of Oregano should not be given to the infants and small children.
- Oregano oil should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or a heart condition.
- It should not be used during pregnancy and lactation.
- It should not be applied directly to the wounds or skin since it causes irritation.
- Oil of Oregano may cause allergic reactions in some people who have allergy to the Lamiaceae family of plants.
- It can upset stomach.
- Oil of Oregano has to be avoided in cases of kidney and liver diseases.
- It can cause irritation to the eyes; hence its contact with eyes needs to be avoided.
Experts recommend that it should be used for a short time and for acute conditions. Furthermore, it should never be used in high doses and in undiluted form.
Although, oil of oregano has said to have immense medicinal applications, yet there is no strong evidence to demonstrate that oil of oregano is actually useful in our bodies. There is no proof, which suggests that it can treat serious medical conditions. Since it has dietary value, hence it may be useful. However, one needs to be careful about the brand of the oil of oregano available in the market. Oil obtained from varieties other than Origanum vulgare may not be useful and effective. Thus, one needs to be cautious while using this oil with intent of medicinal use to avoid unnecessary problems in the future.