Did you know that Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, prescribed oregano as medicine for respiratory and gastrointestinal issues?
Oregano is an herb that we commonly associate with Italian cooking. However, this plant was used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years by ancient healers in the Mediterranean regions. To this day, oregano oil, derived from wild oregano, continues to be a folk remedy for colds, flu, and other infections.
Oregano oil is made from the leaves of the oregano plant. The plant is officially called “Origanum vulgare.” There are about 40 different types of oregano species that the oil can be made from.
Oregano oil contains healing compounds like carvacrol, thymol, and terpine that possess anti-microbial properties. But how effective is the oil in reducing symptoms of colds and infections? Let us find out.
What Does the Research Say?
Scientific research on oregano oil to treat common infections reveals promising results. A 2011 study on the effect of oregano oil on human viruses found that it can inhibit various virus strains that affect us. This action can be attributed to the ingredient Carvacrol that is present in oregano essential oil. Studies also suggest that oregano oil is effective against E. coli and other strains of clinical bacteria.
Common cold and flu symptoms include body aches and sore throats. As per this research in 2013, oregano oil acts as an analgesic. Since it possesses pain-relieving properties, it can offer significant relief for these common cold symptoms.
How Do I Use It?
Oregano oil is available in bottles or capsule form. Both of these forms are safe and suitable for treating infections. There are two ways of using oil for cold relief.
Inhale the vapors: One of the easiest ways to use oregano oil is to inhale it in vapor form. For this, add a few drops to your steam diffuser. The aromatic vapors that are released can relieve blocked sinuses and reduce the discomfort of a cold.
If you must go outdoors during a cold, carry a handkerchief with few drops of oregano oil added to it. Inhale the aroma now and then to obtain relief from irritating cold symptoms.
Consume the oil orally: Oregano oil can also be orally consumed in the form of tinctures or capsules. Pay attention to the strength and dosage suggestions on the label of the bottle to decide the precise quantity to consume.
When using oregano oil, remember that it is highly concentrated. So, use it in small quantities only.
Use this potent form of the herb with caution. If you haven’t used oregano essential oil before, start with a small dose and check for reactions. Increase the dosage only if you do not experience any adverse side-effects.
The antiseptic properties of oregano essential oil can also turn out to be useful around the house. You can use it to disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, countertops and other areas of the house during a cold or flu episode. To use it as a surface cleaner, mix it with lemon essential oil and dilute the mixture with water. Transfer it into a spray bottle and use it liberally around the house.
Is It Safe?
Oil of oregano is safe when applied to the skin in small amounts. However, there can be some warnings to use.
Discontinue use if you experience any of the following:
- Stomach upset.
- Allergic reactions, such as hives, lip, or throat swelling.
- The contents of the bottle smell spoiled or off.
- The oil can lower blood sugar levels, so use caution if you have diabetes.
- Pregnant women should ask their doctors first.
- Do not use if nursing babies.
- Never apply to skin tears or ruptures.
- Do not use the oil at least 2 weeks in advance of surgery as it can increase the risk of bleeding.
- Oregano can interact with lithium. Do not use if you’re taking water pills or diuretics, or have a heart condition. Ask your doctor first before using it.
Note: You may wish to apply a small drop to the inside of your wrist to ensure you aren’t allergic to it. Do this twice: day one and day two.
The Right Way to Store Oregano Oil
Oil of oregano is usually available in a dark brown or amber bottle for a reason. The oil can deteriorate through heat or light. Like most essential oils, the right way to store it is away from light and moisture.
The best place to store oregano oil is in a dark, dry cupboard. Also, take care to keep it away from pets and children. Since most oregano oils are volatile, make sure that the cap is screwed on tightly before placing it elsewhere.
The antimicrobial and analgesic properties of oregano oil lead us to believe that it can alleviate uncomfortable cold symptoms. However, more scientific research is necessary to verify the exact extent of the effectiveness of this herbal oil on colds and flu. Nevertheless, current studies suggest that oregano oil is indeed the right product for your medicine cabinet. So, keep it at hand to battle colds and administer it as per recommendations to enjoy the benefits.