The oregano plant belongs to the mint family. Native to Europe, oregano is now grown all over the world. The leaves of the herb are usually added in meals for flavor and enhanced scent, but they may have medicinal value as well.

In ancient times, oregano was used for medicinal reasons by the Greeks and Romans. Now, the plant’s leaves are often used in making herbal and essential oils through various processes of extraction. Oregano oil is usually either applied topically or inhaled, while oregano extract can be consumed in liquid or capsule form. Read on to find out what these health benefits are.

Oregano Is Rich in Antioxidants

Oregano contains the antioxidants thymol, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants may fight free radicals, which may speed up aging and damage cells in the body. An article in Science Daily, reports that oregano is very rich in antioxidants, much more so than some fruits and vegetables. Every gram of fresh oregano contains:

  • 42 times more antioxidants than apples
  • 30 times more than potatoes
  • 2 times more than oranges
  • 4 times more than blueberries

More research is needed to determine appropriate dosages of oregano though. Too many antioxidants could cause a rebound effect and add to the antioxidants in your body, according to Harvard Health.

May Lower Cholesterol

In a small study published in the Journal of International Medical Research, 48 participants with mildly elevated cholesterol levels were advised to make alterations to their diet and lifestyle. After every meal, 32 participants took 25 milliliters (mL) of oregano oil extract. Those who took the oregano oil in addition to following the lifestyle advice showed more improvement in their cholesterol levels than those who did not.

May Reduce Inflammation

There are a few studies that have looked at using oregano oils to reduce inflammation in the body, a marker for many inflammatory diseases, due to oregano's high level of antioxidants. More research is needed, however, to know if this is accurate.

May Help Heal Wounds

Diluted oregano oil, applied topically on the skin, may potentially speed up healing of small cuts and wounds, reduce the risk of infection, and minimize scarring. This may be due to thymol and carvacrol compounds that have antibacterial properties.

Natural Insect Repellant

Though more research needs to be done, applying diluted oregano oil on the skin could ward off insects, such as mosquitoes and bedbugs.

Carvacrol, the primary substance in oregano, reduces inflammation. Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock