Oregano oils have antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. These oils may also play a beneficial role in weight management and infection treatments.
Oils from oregano extract and oregano essential oils originate from the same plant but are different products. Various studies and anecdotal accounts claim these oils to have various health benefits.
This article discusses the different potential benefits of oils derived from the oregano plant.
Botanically known as Origanum vulgare, oregano is a flowering plant from the same family as mint. It’s often used as an herb to flavor food.
Oregano essential oil is made by air-drying the leaves and shoots of the plant. Once they’re dried, people extract the oil and concentrate it by steam distillation.
You can mix oregano essential oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically. However, you should not consume it orally as is.
Oregano oil extract, on the other hand, can be produced via several extraction methods using compounds like carbon dioxide or alcohol. It’s widely available as a supplement and can often be found in pill or capsule form (
Oregano contains compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids. They have powerful antioxidant properties and are responsible for their fragrance:
- Carvacrol. The most abundant phenol in oregano, it has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria.
- Thymol. This natural antifungal can also support the immune system and protect against toxins.
- Rosmarinic acid. This powerful antioxidant helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
These compounds are thought to underlie oregano’s many health benefits.
Here are 9 potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.
Oregano and the carvacrol it contains may help fight bacteria. While many reported benefits of essential oils come from anecdotal sources, limited research suggests oregano essential oil may have protective effects against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli, both of which are common causes of urinary and respiratory tract infections (
Although more human studies on the effects of oregano oil extract are needed, it contains many of the same compounds as oregano essential oil. It may offer similar health benefits when used as a supplement.
One mouse study found oregano essential oil to be almost as effective as antibiotics against common bacteria, though much more research is needed.
While there is a limited study into how these polyphenols may affect humans, limited animal studies support the claim that compounds in oregano oil can have cholesterol-lowering effects (
Studies have shown that oregano may help lower cholesterol in people and mice with high cholesterol. This is thought to be the result of the compounds carvacrol and thymol.
Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are a natural product of metabolism but may play a role in aging and developing some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. They can also build up in the body through exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
One older test-tube study compared the antioxidant content of 39 commonly used herbs and found that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants (
Because oregano oil extract is very concentrated, you need much less oregano oil to reap the same antioxidant benefits as you would from fresh oregano.
Fresh oregano has a very high antioxidant content. In fact, it’s much higher than that of most fruits and vegetables, gram per gram. The antioxidant content is concentrated in oregano oil.
Yeast is a type of fungus. It can be harmless, but overgrowth can result in human infections. Certain forms of Candida yeasts occur naturally on the skin but can cause infections in the mouth, genitals, blood, and internal organs (
Studies show that oregano essential oil is effective against the development of Candida infections (
Test-tube studies have shown that oregano essential oil is effective against Candida, the most common form of yeast.
Notably, research shows that the compounds carvacrol and thymol can help to treat small intestine bacterial overgrowth (
Oregano oil may benefit gut health by killing gut parasites and preventing harmful bacteria overgrowth.
Inflammation in the body is linked to several adverse health effects. Research has shown that oregano oil may reduce inflammation.
A 2017 review found that several compounds within oregano essential oil have anti-inflammatory properties but can exert a toxic effect on certain cells. As a result, further controlled study is necessary to assess its therapeutic use fully (
Oregano oil and its components may help reduce inflammation in mice, though more studies are needed.
Research shows that oregano essential oils have promising applications in pain management (
Older animal studies also suggest that carvacrol compounds specifically, may have pain-relieving properties when used in conjunction with other medicines (
Oregano oil may significantly reduce pain in mice, exerting pain-relieving effects similar to those of some commonly used medications.
A few studies have indicated that carvacrol, one of the compounds of oregano oil, may have cancer-fighting properties.
In test-tube studies on cancer cells, carvacrol has demonstrated promising results against lung, liver, and breast cancer cells. It has been found to inhibit cell growth and cause cancer cell death (
Although this is promising research, no studies have been conducted on people, so more research is needed.
Preliminary studies have shown that carvacrol — the most abundant compound in oregano oil — inhibits cancer cell growth and causes cell death in lung, liver, and breast cancer cells.
Thanks to oregano’s carvacrol content, oregano oil may aid weight loss and benefit obesity treatment (16).
More research is needed to demonstrate that oregano oil has a role in weight loss, but it may be worth trying as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Oregano oil may be beneficial for weight loss through the action of carvacrol, though human studies are needed.
Oregano oil extract is widely available in capsule and tablet form. It can be bought from most health food shops or online.
Because the strength of oregano supplements can vary, it’s important to read the directions on the individual packet for instructions on how to use the product.
Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied topically. Note that no essential oil should be ingested.
If you’re interested in taking oregano oil extract but currently taking prescription medications, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen.
Oregano oil extract can be purchased in pill or capsule form and taken orally. Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin.
Oregano oil extract and oregano essential oil are relatively cheap and readily available.
Oregano is higher in antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, and it’s packed full of powerful compounds called phenols.
Oregano also contains compounds that may be effective against bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation, and pain, among other conditions.
Overall, it appears to have several health benefits and may be useful as a natural treatment for some common health complaints.