With a long history of traditional use, Medicinal Spice Oils have proven themselves time and again as safe yet potent healers and preventers of disease. Modern science has verified these traditional uses. See articles and research below on the following:
Oil Of Oregano: Good For What Bugs You
By Kendra Howard-Espinoza, Healthwell, November, 2000
Fungus. Yeast. Parasites. Bacteria. Among them are the good, the bad and the downright horrifying. These microbes can play an important role in nature, but they can also make us mighty sick when they invade our bodies. How can we defend ourselves against this vast array of micro-organisms waiting to attack? Consider adding oil of oregano to your herbal remedy cabinet. It's a powerful antiseptic that can eradicate unfriendly internal bacteria, parasites and yeast infections. You can also use oregano oil full-strength to kill off skin infections, and in a diluted mixture for body aches and pains.
For centuries, the Greeks used oregano as medicine. They employed it as a topical cure for ringworm and body fungus. Pliny the Elder believed oregano was a remedy for his bad digestion. "Oregano" is derived from the Greek "oros" (mountain) and "ganos" (joy). Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, oregano was brought to the Americas during the early years of European exploration. The plant - scientific name Origanum vulgare - now grows wild in parts of Mexico and the United States. Oregano lends its strong, aromatic quality to many dishes of Italy, Spain and Mexico.
Throughout the 20th century, Americans have been most familiar with it as a mere culinary spice. You'd have to sprinkle oregano on everything from your cereal to your ice cream, though, to get its invader-fighting benefits. Oil from oregano leaves is the most effective way to tap into its antimicrobial power, but you can also use the various plant parts - leaves, flowers and roots - as a tea that mainly supports the body as an expectorant.
According to Jean Valnet's book The Practice of Aromatherapy (Beekman Publishing, 1995), oil of oregano is so powerful against microbes it can effectively sterilize raw sewage. Cassim Ingram, D.O., published a book, The Cure is in The Cupboard: How to Use Oregano for Better Health (Knowledge House, 1997) that spells out many medicinal uses for oregano and notes its health-supporting qualities. Ingram notes: "oil of oregano has been utilized since ancient times as a cure for the common cold. It is active against the cold virus as well as the various burdensome symptoms associated with colds."
Be aware that there are two grades of of oregano oil. Essential oil of oregano is for topical use only, and medicine-grade oregano oil from Origanum vulgare is an unadulterated oil that is safe to take internally.
However, Ingram cautions that oftentimes oil of oregano sold in natural products stores is actually marjoram or thyme oil. He recommends using only oil derived from true oregano. The key to finding pure oregano oil is in checking its color. True oil of oregano is amber or brown, while thyme and marjoram oils, which have virtually none of oregano's antiseptic qualities, are either clear or reddish.
Oregano oil is stored in micro-droplets in the glands of the plant's leaves. The leaves are crushed or ground to rupture some of the cell walls of the oil-bearing glands. The leaf mush is steam-distilled to coax out the oil, and the resulting amber oil smells like camphor. Oregano oil's infection-fighting power comes from two natural chemical substances called carvacrol and thymol. These two substances work synergistically to exert a caustic effect upon microbes, hence oregano's value as an antiseptic.
Oregano oil is also effective against candida albicans. This type of yeast can proliferate in the body and cause numerous problems. It is normal to have some yeast growing in our bodies, but the American lifestyle often fuels overgrowth of candida. While difficult to eradicate, certain studies have shown that candida can be controlled by oregano oil. See "Oregano to the Rescue" for dosage recommendations.
Oregano oil is also a powerful agent against unsightly, painful skin infections, which proliferate because fungi thrive on dead skin cells.
"Oregano oil has great value as an antiseptic," says Jane Kraemer, a certified herbalist and owner of The Herb Shop and Wellness Spa in Loveland, Colo. "One of my customers had a problem with toenail fungi. Nothing worked for her, and she had great pain in her toes when she wore shoes. At my recommendation, she began applying oil of oregano to her toes and had awesome results. It killed the fungi."
Other skin conditions that benefit from applying oil of oregano include eczema, ringworm, athlete's foot and psoriasis. Use caution, however, when applying the oil. A little goes a long way, and the oil has a tendency to cause a burning sensation.
Most natural products stores carry oil of oregano in both medicinal forms for oral ingestion and essential oil forms for topical use. Do not ingest essential oil of oregano. It can be harmful due to potentially toxic carrier oils or added fragrances. Make certain that the oil you use internally is medicine-grade from the species Origanum vulgare. An herbalist in any health food store should be able to help you identify the correct oil. If you are pregnant, avoid using oil of oregano at all. It can stimulate menstruation and possible miscarriage.
Because we live in an age of "superbugs" where more and more microbes are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, an herbal antiseptic - especially one with as many uses as oil of oregano - is a smart addition to the medicine cabinet.