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What is Oil of Oregano?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra

Much like it sounds, oil of oregano is an essential oil squeezed out of the leaves of oregano, an herb. The oil is used by some people as a home remedy for everything from athlete's foot to the flu. Recently, health researchers have conducted some studies that show this extract to indeed have antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and anti-inflammatory properties. More research may prove this simple oil an organic combatant to fight common infections like E. coli and salmonella. Oil of oregano as an essential oil should not be confused with the oregano that is used as a cooking spice.

Since oil of oregano has been heralded as a natural, homeopathic curative, it's usually derived by organic means. The leaves of the herb are gathered from wild oregano, Origanum vulgare. It grows well in Mediterranean climates like Greece, and gets especially potent during the blooming season. Once gathered, the oil is pressed by crushing the leaves, rather than using solvents in the process. Lastly, it is bottled and sold in many health food stores and on the Internet.

Proper Usage

Oil of Oregano can be used to treat coughs.
Oil of Oregano can be used to treat coughs.

Oil of oregano should be diluted before use. Pure oil of oregano is bottled in varying strengths, and is usually blended with another oil, such as olive oil. Depending on the concentration, the recommended dosage is at most a few drops diluted in liquid, such as juice. Correct dosage amounts is usually included with the oil when it is purchased. Diluted oil can also be used as a topical treatment, as it contains many vitamins and minerals that are good for the skin such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese, copper, potassium, niacin, and beta-carotene; however, some people may be sensitive to it.

Replacement for Antibiotics

Oil of oregano has long been used to treat toothaches.
Oil of oregano has long been used to treat toothaches.

The active ingredients of this herbal oil are carvacrol and thymol; some researchers believe that any oil of oregano should have carvacrol as its primary ingredient. Some who study oil of oregano's ability to boost immunity assume that these are the chemicals responsible for the results. Both Georgetown University and the University of Tennessee conducted studies that concluded that the oil is a pharmacologically powerful substance. In some cases it can be as effective as traditional doses of antibiotics, such as penicillin. Doses of the oil may soon be incorporated into treatments for salmonella, staphylococcus, E. coli, and pseudomonas.

Oil of oregano is often used to dilute oil of oregano concentrations.
Oil of oregano is often used to dilute oil of oregano concentrations.

It may seem amazing that a treatment made from a common herb would be able to compete with a strong antibiotic like penicillin. This is predominantly due to drug resistance. When microbes are routinely exposed to the same medicines, they begin to evolve in ways that make them more immune to what they consider an enemy. Over time, especially with the abundance of antibiotic prescriptions, the germs can't be wiped out by normal doses. However, they do not develop drug resistance to nondrugs, such as oil of oregano.

Ancient Uses

Oil of oregano is thought to be antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.
Oil of oregano is thought to be antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.

As far back as Ancient Greece, people were using the crushed leaves of oregano to keep food from spoiling, ease itchy rashes, treat coughs, and bring down the swelling of a toothache. The Greeks even named the herb "oreganos," meaning it's a delight of the mountains, because it was so tasty and beneficial. The medical community is on its way to validate their unsubstantiated beliefs.

Discussion Comments


At the first sign of a throat tickle or even after shopping at a crowded store, I do 4 drops and just swallow it, cough, drink water, then I'm good. However, I've had the best luck taking a spoonful of black elderberry syrup to coat the throat, then taking the drops of oregano oil. I don't know if it works, but I do know I don't ever get sick.


Do *not* consume this if you are pregnant!


I have been taking Oil of Oregano on and off for awhile now. It's truly one of natures best kept secrets! I would recommend taking for no longer than two weeks at a time and make sure you read the dosage from the bottle. Most Oil of Oregano is diluted 1:2 parts with extra virgin olive oil. Even just two drops a day goes a long way!


I buy the empty gel caps and put a few drops in the gelcap, close it, swallow it. Sometimes I swallow the gelcap with a spoonful of yogurt. I try to have something in my stomach. Sometimes I burp it but not for more than 15-20 minutes. It is seriously nasty if you get the real stuff. I could never drink it in water or anything else. I want to get it into my stomach with it not touching any taste or aroma sensors. It will burn skin also if you get it full strength on skin. For topical use I dilute it in something like olive oil or aloe etc. --Annie


Have just started taking oil for a fungus infection. When I'm two days in, I will post back in few weeks to see how effective it is.


For a toothache put a couple of drops of the oil of oregano on a cotton ball and place in mouth next to the tooth. Leave it there to absorb in the infected area. Keep as long as needed. It works!


I've used oil of oregano for about 10 years now. Every time I feel a cold or cough coming on, have a toothache or want to get rid of some excess brewers yeast, I take a few drops under the tongue, wait for the burn and then apple or other juices work well to rinse it down. Whatever juice you think would go with Italian food. I do notice if you use it a lot, it feels like it my body gets "depleted?" a bit. Always keep some on hand, has a good shelf life.


This stuff rocks! A couple of drops under my tongue and it knocked out whatever - cold or flu - was developing, in just thee days. It is strong, but it's not unbearable. I would hesitate giving it to small children, unless greatly diluted or in steam.


My uncle gave me Oil of Oregano last week and I daily put a few drops of it in a spoon and swallow it without any liquid. Is that a problem? Besides the strong taste, nothing happens to me. I had a flu for nearly a month and I was cured from it after two days taking the oil.


I have used oil of oregano for years and tried every way to get it down. By far the best is to put a few drops in a small shot of Jagermeister and shoot it back. This method actually makes it quite pleasant.


Take the oil of oregano gelcaps instead of liquid!


The best way to use oil of oregano that I've found is to place a few drops on a spoon and invert it onto the tongue. On and under the tongue gets it into the bloodstream almost immediately.

One word of caution: avoid putting it too far back on the tongue and drink water immediately a few seconds afterward. Accidentally inhaling the strong fumes can cause the airway to constrict and cut off the air supply (this happened to me - I was only seconds away from calling 911).

If you do accidentally ingest the oil, it will take about every ounce of will power you can develop to not panic and force yourself to take shallow breaths and breathe slowly. It's very scary, but the effects should wear off in a minute or two.

I am taking it for my emphysema and have had excellent results after just half of a 1 fluid ounce bottle dosing twice per day.


I've used this stuff for years to get rid of the flu, colds, and staff infections. Best to put it in a gel capsule!


As a trained and pracitising Aromatherapist, i would never recommend taking Oil of Oregano internally. The well respected Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs, in their book entitled Essential Oil Safety (Churchill Livingstone, 1995) state that Oregano should never be used at more than 1% dilution due to the risk of strong irritation to the mucous membranes.

For the treatment of respiratoy infection, using the Oil of Oregano in a steam would be very effective. Add 5 drops to a bowl of hot water, cover the head with a towel, close the eyes and inhale deeply for 5 minutes. This will effectively kill the bacteria all the way through the respiratory system, from nostil to alveoli. Do this twice a day and you should see a huge inprovement in about 48 hours.


What is the best way to get this stuff down? This stuff is seriously very very potent...I just bought a bottle of plain oil of oregano, no alcohol in it, and it is very strong. I tried adding it to large amounts of drink, but it is still very strong. Any suggestions?

I am needing to get an antibiotic dose, as I just drained a tooth abscess in my gums, but somehow get it down without holding my nose or choking so much...Also, do you know how much IO should be taking to accomplish this?

Thanks so much, love this site!!!

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    • Oil of Oregano can be used to treat coughs.
      By: ramonespelt
      Oil of Oregano can be used to treat coughs.
    • Oil of oregano has long been used to treat toothaches.
      By: Dessie
      Oil of oregano has long been used to treat toothaches.
    • Oil of oregano is often used to dilute oil of oregano concentrations.
      By: Angel Simon
      Oil of oregano is often used to dilute oil of oregano concentrations.
    • Oil of oregano is thought to be antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.
      By: Lucie Říhová
      Oil of oregano is thought to be antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.