Oregano Essential Oil: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Oregano essential oil has many health benefits that include the treatment of parasitic and fungal infections, strengthening the immune system, and improving digestion.

The benefits of oregano essential oil can be attributed to its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and digestive properties. It also acts as an emmenagogue.

What is Oregano Oil?

Oregano oil is a highly beneficial essential oil extracted from oregano leaves. Oregano is a plant native to higher altitudes and normally grows in the mountains, which is how it is named “oregano”, meaning “delight of the mountains”. While oregano is famed as a spice, oregano essential oil is a concentrated form that is widely sought after for natural remedies.

The disinfectant and antibacterial properties of oregano essential oil were first recognized in ancient Greece where it was often used for treating bacterial infections on the skin or wounds. It was also used to protect food from bacteria. The essential oil of oregano is extracted through steam distillation of fresh oregano leaves, which bear the scientific name Origanum vulgare. Its chief components are carvacrol, thymol, cymene, caryophyllene, pinene, bisabolene, linalool, borneol, geranyl acetate, linalyl acetate, and terpinene. [1]

Health Benefits of Oregano Essential Oil

Along with being respected for its antimicrobial properties, this oil has many medicinal properties as well. Let’s take a look at the oregano oil benefits and uses below.

Provides Antioxidants

Oregano is a rich source of antioxidants, including thymol, ocimene, carvacrol, terpinene, limonene, and caryophyllene, collectively contributing to safeguarding the body against the detrimental impact of free radicals. [2]

According to a study, oregano essential oil has a high ORAC value, which is a measure of antioxidant capacity. This underscores the significance of oregano in supporting overall health and well-being by combating oxidative stress, caused by free radicals and its associated health risks. [3] [4]

How to use: Mixing a few drops with a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, in a ratio of one to two drops of oregano oil per teaspoon of carrier oil is a common practice. Alternatively, oregano oil can be taken orally by adding a drop or two to a glass of water or juice, ensuring thorough mixing.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

A study published in 2010 has revealed that oregano essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe many types of inflammation, internal or external, caused by a variety of reasons. A 2017 study further confirmed that oregano essential oil contains a multitude of compounds with notable anti-inflammatory properties. However, despite the evident advantages of oregano essential oils, reports have emerged indicating their potential for adverse effects.

Therefore, further research, including controlled studies and human trials, is essential to fully understand the therapeutic potential and establish safe dosages for these compounds in human use. [5] [6] [7]

How to use: When it is applied topically, it can reduce redness and irritation on the applied area and also help in relieving pain associated with arthritis or injury. When consumed through pills, it has much of the same effect, although it is spread throughout the body, so it will not necessarily relieve pain and discomfort as quickly.

Contains Antimicrobial properties

Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, which have been shown to have antimicrobial properties. Research led by Dr. Harry Preuss, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, suggests that oregano oil has antimicrobial properties that help prevent Staphylococcus aureus infection.

According to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, oregano essential oil protects you against bacterial infections. As per Frontiers in Microbiology, a combination of oregano oil and silver nanoparticles effectively eliminated all the bacteria they tested [8] [9] [10] [11]

According to a 2011 study, Mexican oregano essential oil has antiviral properties that protect against viral infections. This means that it strengthens your immunity against cold, mumps, pox, and other problems caused by viruses. [13]

According to a 2015 study, its high thymol content makes it an effective remedy for fungal infections [14] [15]

How to use: When dealing with viral infections, dilution with a carrier oil or hot water is advised, and oregano oil capsules are suitable for colds and coughs. It can also be ingested with carrier oil to eliminate intestinal worms and is effective in repelling pests like lice, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas.  [16]

Improves Gut Health

Oregano essential oil offers potential benefits for gut health due to its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties. According to a study published in 2010, oregano essential oil has the ability to promote digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive juices. It also increases the nutrient digestibility and enzymes which aid in absorbing food.

It contains compounds like carvacrol and thymol, which may help treat small intestine bacterial overgrowth to help restore gut function.   [17] [18] [19]

How to use: You can try taking oregano oil pills if you’re dealing with digestive issues, but please refer to your health care professional before making any additions or changes to your diet.

Treats Respiratory Conditions

This essential oil can act as an expectorant, which loosens up or helps eliminate the uncomfortable buildup of mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tracts and sinuses. It is also a soothing balm for inflamed lungs and throat, which may often stimulate coughing fits. Therefore, oregano essential oil prevents and slows the progressive symptoms of certain respiratory ailments.

In the 2023 edition of the Journal of Herbal Medicine, a study was published, in which, researchers found that oregano essential oil holds promising potential for mitigating inflammation and alleviating symptoms associated with respiratory conditions, including asthma and COPD. [20]

How to use: You can topically apply oregano oil on your chest in case of difficulty breathing or other respiratory ailments. Do consult a medical professional before consuming it.


This is another side of the sedative and anti-inflammatory properties of oregano essential oil. Allergies are hyper-reactions of the body towards external stimuli. Oregano oil, a sedative by nature, calms down this hyper-sensitivity and is known to give relief from allergy symptoms. Through its anti-inflammatory quality, the severity of allergies can be reduced, which is important for reactions like anaphylactic shocks or swelling in the throat. [21]

How to Use Oregano Essential Oil?

You can use oil of oregano in different ways that include the following:

Topical application: It is used in many ways, like in aromatherapy which provides many health benefits and has been the most popular use for decades.

  • It can be applied topically for irritation on the skin with a carrier oil like coconut oil for improving your skin quality and wound healing.
  • You can topically apply oregano oil for skin irritation and in the space near wounds, as it can speed up the healing.
  • You can put oregano oil under your eyes and over wrinkles as well.

Note: Dilute the oil before applying topically. You can dilute it 1:1 with olive oil or coconut oil.

Consumption: You can ingest oregano essential oil in very small quantities as a dietary supplement, usually diluted with honey or other non-dairy beverages.

  • Sublingual consumption (dropping the oil beneath the tongue)
  • You can also consume oregano oil as an additive

Supplemental form: You can find oregano essential oil capsules or pills in health food stores or online. The strength of these capsules may vary so make sure to check the label before buying and using. Speak to a professional who can recommend the optimum quantity for you.

Where to Buy?

You can buy oregano oil from any place where essential oils are sold, as well as major stores and big-box chains. It is relatively easy to prepare by yourself, although it takes a few weeks. Look out for it at natural health practitioners and herbalists, as well as stores like Walmart and GNC.

Blending: The essential oil of oregano blends well with the essential oils of lavender, rosemary, bergamot, chamomile, cypress, cedarwood, tea tree, and eucalyptus. These combinations are often made and widely used by aromatherapists and herbalists.

Side Effects

  • Oregano oil can irritate the skin and mucous membranes if taken in high concentration or dosages
  • Pregnant women should avoid using it and should consult with a doctor before adding it in any significant way to the diet
  • Like with any new dietary supplement or food, check with your doctor about allergies. People allergic to basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, or sage are also commonly allergic to oregano and its essential oil
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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