If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine, you’re probably pretty familiar with oregano and may have some in your spice cabinet. As cold and flu season has commenced, I’ve been looking around for all-natural remedies that will prevent me from getting sick, or help me out if I do happen to catch something. I discovered oregano oil, a great remedy for cold and flu symptoms, as well as other bacterial infections!
The oregano herb is in the same plant family as mint, it was natively grown in Europe, though now is grown all over the world. The leaves and shoots of the plant are air-dried then go through an extraction and steam distillation process that yields a concentrated oil with potent medicinal properties.
Oregano oil is loaded with antioxidants, which fight disease-causing free radicals in the body. It’s highly concentrated with powerful plant compounds like phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids, that contain antioxidants with different health-boosting properties. In fact, one study found that out of 39 commonly used herbs, oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants, containing between three and thirty times the antioxidant levels of the others. The most abundant antioxidant in oregano oil is rosmarinic acid, also found in rosemary.
So with all the pesky colds and flu symptoms afoot, oregano oil, a natural antibiotic containing carvacrol (a phenol that has been shown to kill different types of bacteria) might be the one thing you want to start incorporating into your daily routine.
In one animal study, subjects infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (the cause of staph infections) were given oregano oil while others received regular antibiotics. Results showed that the group taking oregano oil had almost the same survival rate as the group taking the antibiotic medication! Furthermore, oregano oil has shown to be effective against other bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli, which can become resistant to regular antibiotics and cause illnesses like UTIs and respiratory infections.
And if it doesn’t already sound too good to be true, oregano oil might also be your go-to for troublesome yeast infections. Yeast infections are most often caused by a buildup of a fungus called Candida, which can also cause conditions of the digestive tract like colitis, Crohn’s disease, and leaky gut. However, test-tube studies have found that oregano oil can be effective in killing at least five types of candida bacteria, including the ones that cause infections in the vagina. Another test-tube study found that oregano oil could be a promising alternative to fight as many as 16 strains of candida that can cause yeast infections. Compared with any other essential oil tested, oregano oil taken orally showed to be the most effective against yeast infections.
Oregano oil is a safe natural alternative to OTC medications, but if you are taking any prescription medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before use. When purchasing a supplement, you can buy softgels or a liquid tincture to take depending on your preference. Keep in mind, oregano oil can taste pretty strong, so if you can’t stomach it, softgels might be the way to go. Be sure to read labels and dosing information carefully and choose a high-quality product. We love these softgels from Gaia Herbs ($28.29, Amazon) and this oil tincture from Garden of Life ($10.49, Amazon).
We’re wishing you a happy and healthy season ahead!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.