Should You Take Oregano Oil for Your Immune Health?

Oregano, or Origanum vulgare, is cultivated worldwide and is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. This flowering plant belongs to the mint family and grows in temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and in the Mediterranean region. A staple of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, this herb is well-known for its immune-boosting qualities.

HOW DO NATURAL ANTIVIRALS WORK?

Plants and botanicals can provide a wide range of antiviral support through natural means, without the potential side effects of antiviral medical drugs. Viruses are small infectious agents that can only replicate when they are inside of the living cells of other organisms. These infectious agents can target humans, animals, plants, and microorganisms and are the most abundant type of biological entity.

Natural antivirals include specific herbs, plants, and other botanical substances that work by inhibiting the replication of viruses. Some of these substances are able to boost immune system function, which allows the immune system to naturally attack viral pathogens, even specific pathogens. In addition, these natural antivirals can provide collateral benefits such as anti-inflammatory support, digestive support, and cardiovascular support.

The list of natural antiviral substances is a lengthy one, but common superstars such as garlic, oregano, and olive leaf top the list. Oregano is also known to be a powerful antiviral agent due to the phytochemicals that it naturally contains. These substances are known to have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

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This magic herb contains several natural compounds that may promote health and healing, including carvacrol, thymol, and terpinenes. Drying the leaves and stems and then steam-distilling this plant matter extracts the beneficial compounds and the oil of the plant. Research shows that oregano oil may have many health benefits, including an ability to boost the immune system by fighting certain types of bacteria. Carvacrol, one of the main compounds in oregano oil, may be effective in fighting certain viruses commonly associated with upper respiratory and other infections. 

This oil may also have anti-inflammatory properties. A study conducted in 2007 found that a combination of thyme and oregano oils reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (molecules released by immune cells that increase inflammation). This discovery can be attributed to carvacrol, a primary constituent in oregano oil. 

Additionally, oregano oil is high in beneficial antioxidants, which help defend the body against free radical damage. Free radicals can build up in the body through exposure to toxic environmental factors including air pollution and cigarette smoke.

Clearly a significant antioxidant powerhouse, oregano delivers 3 to 30 times the antioxidant levels as compared to other herbs and up to 42 times the antioxidant level of apples. Oregano oil is extremely concentrated and power-packed with antioxidants. It may also be diluted with another oil, such as olive oil, prior to use. 

 

Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University‚Äôs Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.