Most of us know oregano as an essential addition to our kitchen herb collection, but did you know it also has medicinal qualities? Essential oil of oregano can be used to fight colds and flu, and has potential as a cancer treatment.

Oil of oregano contains carvacrol, which is a strong antioxidant. The oil has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, which makes it beneficial to health.

Fights Colds and Flu

Oregano oil has historically been used to treat the symptoms of colds, flu, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. The oil can be be added to a vapouriser to inhale the steam, or it can be mixed with a carrier oil such as olive oil, and rubbed on the chest or used on aching muscles.

Helps Fight Cancer

A study at Long Island University, New York, showed that the carvacrol in oregano oil inhibited the cell growth of prostate cancer cells. Initial research has showed that carvacrol may also help fight melanoma and other cancers, such as lung, liver, breast and cervix.

Wound Healing

You can treat wounds or sore muscles with oregano oil, but you must dilute the oil first in a carrier oil, such as olive oil. You could also try ointments that contain oregano extract. These ointments have been shown to decrease bacterial contamination and infection on wounds after surgery.

Antiviral Properties

Viral illnesses like norovirus can cause big problems in hospitals and other institutional places, but researchers are looking at oregano oil to try and prevent the spread of the virus. Carvacrol has a unique way of breaking down the external proteins present in norovirus, which would then allow the use of other antimicrobial treatments to kill the virus.

Antifungal Properties

If you suffer from fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, yeast infections or fungal infections of the skin and nails, oil of oregano can help fight them. Research has shown that oregano oil has been found to stop the growth of Candida albicans, a culprit in many fungal infections. It has also been shown to inhibit the growth of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger, which are two mould fungi.

Antibacterial Properties

Staphylococcus is a common, nasty bacterium that oregano oil can help to combat. The oil and two of its constituents, carvacrol and thymol, were tested on two strains of Staphylococcus bacteria, and were found to have bactericidal properties. Carvacrol and thymol have been shown to be effective against E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardia, and Listeria.

Oregano oil can help many bacterial conditions, including food-borne illnesses, gastric ulcers and urinary tract infections.