By Deborah Jasien
The health benefits of oregano essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic substance.
The essential oil of oregano is extracted through steam distillation of fresh oregano leaves, which bear the scientific name Oreganum Vulgare. It was revered as a symbol of happiness, and it was an ancient tradition to crown brides and grooms with a laurel of oregano. It is a plant native to higher altitudes and normally grows in the mountains, which is how it got the name "Oregano," which means "Delight of the Mountains."
There are over 40 oregano species, but the most therapeutically beneficial is the oil produced from wild oregano, or Origanum vulgare, that's native to Mediterranean regions. Beware, though, as many of the oregano oils sold in grocery stores are not made from this variety, and may have little to no therapeutic value. Opt only for oregano oil made from Origanum vulgare and Thymus capitatus, a variety that grows in Spain.
Along with being respected for its antimicrobial properties, this oil has many other medicinal properties as well. It is traditionally used in one of three ways, either aromatically, which is the most popular since the advent of aromatherapy's widespread use in recent decades. You can also apply it topically onto the skin, or through carrier oil like coconut oil. Finally, you can ingest it in very small quantities as a dietary supplement, usually when diluted in honey or some other non-dairy beverage.
Health benefits of oregano essential oil
Respiratory conditions: Oregano essential oil can act as an expectorant, which will loosen up or help eliminate the uncomfortable buildups of mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tracts and sinuses, but it is also a soothing balm for inflamed lungs and the throat, which often stimulate coughing fits. Therefore, oregano essential oil may both prevent and treat symptoms of respiratory ailments.
Anti-inflammatory: When this oil is applied topically, it can reduce redness and irritation to the applied area, and it can relieve topical pain that might be associated with arthritis or injury. When consumed, it has much the same effect, although it is spread throughout the body, so will not necessarily relieve pain and discomfort as quickly.
Antibacterial: Just as it can protect against viral infections, oregano oil also gives you an added level of protection against most bacterial diseases, such as infections in the colon and urinary tract, as well as typhoid, cholera, sores, skin infections and temporary problems like food poisoning.
Antiviral: Oregano essential oil provides protection against viral infections by strengthening your immunity against colds, mumps, measles, pox and other problems created by viruses. Oregano essential oil stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, the body's main line of defense.
Antioxidant: This property turns out to be one of the most celebrated attributes of oregano essential oil, because it neutralizes the free radicals, while repairing the damage already done. This slows down the aging process and protects against certain cancers, macular degeneration, degeneration of muscle due to aging, wrinkles, and ailments related to premature aging and the effects of free radicals.
Anti-allergenic: Allergies are hyper-reactions of the body toward external stimuli. Oregano oil, being sedative in nature, calms down this hyper-sensitivity and is known to give relief from allergy symptoms. From its anti-inflammatory quality, the severity of an allergic reaction can be reduced.
Oregano essential oil has also been shown to help with psoriasis, eczema, athlete's foot, flu and other infectious ailments. It relieves congestion, and certain studies reveal that it is as powerful a painkiller as the most respected options on the market, with the added benefit that it works without the strong side effects.
Oregano oil is NOT advisable for infants and children under the age of 6. It can cause irritation of the skin and mucus membrane if used in high concentrations or dosages. Pregnant women should avoid using it, and check with your doctor about allergies. People who are allergic to basil, lavender, marjoram, mint or sage are also commonly allergic to oregano and its essential oil. People with diabetes should use oregano cautiously as it might lower blood sugar levels.
General: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin, always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier).
Deborah Jasien is the owner of Fields of Ambrosia in North Conway Village. This information is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Call (603) 356-3532 or visit www.fieldsofambrosia.com to learn more.