Rich with such substances, oregano and especially its essential oil is endowed with strong antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics which are most of the basis of its use in medicine. Read more to learn about this powerful herb.

What is Oregano?

Oregano is a common name for several species of herb in the Origanum genus and is part of the mint family. The most common species sold in grocery and health stores is Origanum vulgare (R).

Besides being a culinary herb in many dishes, oregano also possesses important and potent medicinal properties. A wide range of substances is present in the oregano essential oil, with some of the more common and medicinally active being polyphenols, carvacrol, and thymol (R, R).

Oregano Snapshot


  • Has antioxidant properties
  • Kills bacteria
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Heals wounds quickly
  • Prevents cancer and diabetes


  • Might limit absorption of other nutrients

Health Benefits of Oregano

1) Oregano Possesses Potent Antioxidant Properties

Oregano is rich in antioxidants, with as little as one gram could contribute a significant amount of plant-based antioxidants to a human being per day (R).

A large portion of these antioxidants present in this herb is polyphenols which are quite common and powerful in effect (R, R).

Lab tests suggest polyphenols help prevent osteoporosis, various forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders (R).

Other substances found in oregano included thymol, carvacrol, and are most likely responsible for the strong anti-bacterial characteristics of oregano (R, R, R).

2) Oregano is an Effective Antimicrobial Agent

Oregano essential oil is safe and effective as an anti-bacterial compound for use on food, inhibiting the growth of common foodborne microorganisms E. coli and a species of the Salmonella genus on fresh produce (R).

The herb is bacteriostatic (stops bacteria from reproducing) for Staphylococcus aureus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). An ointment with 20% Oregano inhibited Proteus mirabilis and Proteus vulgaris (R).

The essential oil efficiently inhibits the growth of antifungal (fluconazole) resistant and susceptible strains of Candida albicans (R).

Oregano essential oil’s effectiveness as an anti-bacterial is significantly increased when used in combination with another antibacterial; extremely tiny pieces of fungus-derived silver (nanoparticles) (R).

When combined, the essential oil and the silver nanoparticles effects are additive and are very effective in killing a wide range of bacteria, even antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in less than 7 hours, with certain species killed in as little as 20 minutes (R).

3) Oregano Can Reduce Inflammation

Oregano exhibited strong inhibition of inflammatory activity in one Australian study carried out on 71 herbal drugs from 63 plant species. Extracts were found to decrease pro-inflammatory TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 cytokines and increased anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 (R, R).

Combined treatment with thyme and oregano essential oils can reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines and thereby reduce TNBS-induced colitis in mice (R).

4) Oregano Protects the Intestine

Oral administration of oregano extract reduced the number of bleeding points in gastric mucosa of mice subjected to cold restraint stress (R).

Its essential oil increased the surface area of the gut promoting greater nutrient absorption. It was also effective in reducing the population of E. coli in the gut, as well as reducing inflammation in the gut in the pig (R).

Supplementation inhibits and can eliminate parasites present in the intestine. One test used emulsified oregano essential oil, administered to several patients suffering from three different parasites, two being protozoans and one amoeba (R).

Over a six week period, a 600 mg daily dose of the oil was successful in completely eliminating one of the protozoans, Entamoeba hartmanni, in four patients, the other protozoan, Blastocystis hominis, in eight other patients, and the amoeba, Endolimax nana, in one patient (R).

5) Oregano Fights Cancer

Oregano can combat the development and growth of at least one kind of cancer.  In one experiment, it demonstrated effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of a model laboratory strain of human liver cancer called HepG2 over a 48 hour incubation period (R).

6) Oregano Helps Wounds Heal Quicker

A 3% oregano extract ointment outperformed petroleum jelly as a wound treatment, in that subjects with wounds treated with the oregano ointment had fewer bacteria present on the wound. It also improved scar coloring and pliability over the course of 90 days (RR).

7) Oregano Can Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Extract of oregano (EAO) treatment protects mice from the development of hyperglycemia by reducing proinflammatory macrophage/Th1/Th17 response. Because of the large success of the oregano extract in preventing diabetes development, it could become a fixture in future diabetes treatments (R).


  • The majority of organisms were inhibited or killed with ointment strengths ranging from 1%-10%. Proteus mirabilis required a higher strength of 20% ointment, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was not inhibited by even the strongest 80% ointment (R).
  • The 0.05% nanoemulsion demonstrated significant reductions in all bacteria species. 3.44, 2.31, and 3.05 log CFU/g reductions in Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella Typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157: H7. 0.1% nanoemulsion showed even greater reductions at 3.57, 3.26, and 3.35 log CFU/g  (R).
  • The MIC of the essential oil on both strains of C. albicans was approximately 300 micrograms.milliliter-1. The thymol in the essential oil appeared to be responsible for disrupting the membranes of the fungus (R).
  • LPS-induced NF-κB activity was inhibited significantly (p<0.001) (R).
  • Endotoxin levels in the pig serum were significantly decreased. The villus height in the intestine was significantly increased, as well as the expression of occludin and zonula occludens-1 in the jejunum (R).
  • The total amount of antioxidants in oregano was 45 mmol/100g (R).  


The recommended dosage of oregano/its essential oil varies.  As mentioned before, roughly 1 gram would be sufficient in providing a significant amount of antioxidants per day (R).  

A 600 mg daily dose of emulsified oregano essential oil was sufficient to treat intestinal parasites (R).  


There is little to no health risks associated with oregano or oregano essential oil (R).

There are studies that show plant-based oils can be toxic when consumed in excessive levels (R).

High ingestion of antioxidants may decrease the efficiency of nutrient and mineral absorption from food (R).

Phytic acid dramatically limits absorption of iron and zinc, especially in children and infants (R).

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