You're probably familiar with oregano as an ingredient in spaghetti sauce, but oil of oregano is a powerful herbal antibiotic. Used as a home remedy for centuries, it's beginning to gain acceptance among the medical community as an alternative to traditional antibiotic medications.
Oregano has been grown for centuries in the Mediterranean area, particularly in Greece and Turkey. The name oregano comes from two Greek words - "oros", meaning mountain, and "ganos", meaning joy. The Greeks believed the herb had incredible healing properties and used it for everything from flavoring their food to healing digestive problems.
In 2009, most Americans are more familiar with oregano as a seasoning, but the spice doesn't provide the same health benefits as the oil, which is released by crushing the leaves of the plant.
Oil of oregano is sold in two forms. The essential oil is a topical preparation used for treating skin issues. It's used by rubbing it onto problem areas. This kind should never be taken internally, since the carrier oils or fragrance added may be toxic.
Medical-grade oil of oregano is formulated to be swallowed and is used for treating internal health problems. If you're purchasing oil of oregano to take internally, make sure the product you buy says it is medical grade.
Essential oil of oregano can be used to guard against or heal infection in wounds and injuries. It also helps cure skin issues such as boils or toenail fungus. You should rub one or two drops into the affected area. Oil of oregano is very strong, and if you use too much it will burn.
Medical-grade oil of oregano can work as an antibiotic to cure infections. Studies at Georgetown University and the University of Tennessee concluded that oil of oregano can be as powerful as penicillin at fighting infections. Because it's so strong, it needs to be diluted before dosing. One or two drops should be added to a full glass of water or juice.
As of 2009, there has been concern in the medical community about many strains of bacteria growing resistant to antibiotics. However, bacteria don't form a resistance to herbal remedies, which makes oil of oregano an important addition to the arsenal of antibiotics.
Many health food stores carry something called oil of oregano which is actually derived from marjoram or thyme. Make sure you're buying true oil of oregano, which will be amber or brown. The marjoram or thyme preparations will be clear or reddish, and they have little antibiotic benefit.
Pregnant women should not use oil of oregano, since it may bring on menstruation or miscarriage.