PAUL BOIZOT AROMATHERAPY

OREGANO

See also general page on essential oil SAFETY.
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This oil is sometimes called origanum, and misspelt as oreganum. Botanical name is Origanum Vulgare - though note there has been much confusion over naming of marjoram, oregano and thyme species.

OREGANO OIL, SAFETY AND WARTS - In 2004 I began to get orders for oregano from people who saw a TV item about using it for warts - though tea-tree oil already has a good reputation for warts, and is safer and cheaper. Tisserand and Balacs (Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1995) list oregano as a moderate skin irritant and strong mucous membrane irritant, which is why I had not stocked or used it in the past. (The other caution is not to use it if pregnant). I have found a little information about this on the net - several US sites are selling "oregano oil" for a variety of complaints; some of it is neat, some appears to be diluted 25% to 50% in a carrier and to be used as sold in that concentration. Most of it is very overpriced! 

Since writing the original version of this page, I have had e-mails from two people who have successfully used neat oregano to remove warts or verrucas. I had previously suggested that unless you have other reliable instructions  for warts, you try diluting in a vegetable oil base at a maximum 5% (roughly 5 drops per 5ml of base) and keep off surrounding skin - apply using a cotton bud or similar method, or let some soak in to a cotton wool ball and tape it to the wart. But now I think you might as well try a little neat to start with - only on the wart itself - and if there is no irritation, keep using it neat. Otherwise dilute it, bit starting with 25% and diluting further if there is still irritation.

For any other skin application of oregano I would not go over 1%-2%. Normal aromatherapy dilution for oils on skin is maximum 3%, though the US diluted products mentioned above are much stronger and they recommend putting it on the skin at that concentration. So there is still a query in my mind as to whether a higher than normal concentration is actually needed to kill warts - before tea-tree became popular in the UK, aromatherapy books recommended neat lemon oil, which one would not normally put neat on the skin, but which presumably knocked out the wart safely as long as you kept the oil off the surrounding skin. Tea-tree can be used similarly but for most people is safer on the skin, though a few people find it does irritate.

I would like to hear from anyone who has used oregano for warts, especially as to what instructions for use they have been given and what actually worked (or not!). 

I can supply oregano diluted in a carrier if required - I will consider putting this up as a stock item in the future. I currently stock neat oregano oil for purchase online or mail order. As of March 2007 I will be switching from a Turkish to a Spanish oil, as existing stocks are used up. This is due to a large increase in the price of the Turkish oil from my previous supplier. The Spanish is much lighter in colour than the Turkish, or indeed than the previous Spanish I stocked a couple of years ago.

INTERNAL USE

There is a further query over that, though, as the diluted oregano oil marketed in the US is supposed to be taken internally for some problems, which raises a whole load of other issues for an aromatherapist! I have personally had no adverse reaction on taking a 2% dilution in sunflower oil, or 2 drops in a little honey and hot water (though the latter was not very pleasant!). But the terms of my professional aromatherapy insurance do not permit me to recommend internal use of oils to clients.

WHAT MAKES OREGANO WORK?

Most sources say that oregano's strong antiseptic action is due to carvacrol - one of the many chemicals which it contains. Some also mention thymol - also a main constituent of thyme oil. Aromatherapy tends to stress the synergistic interaction of the various compounds within an oil (often without any supporting evidence!), though it often accepts that one or more particular chemical constituents have been shown separately to have some similar healing properties to the whole oil. Percentages of carvacrol can vary widely according to species and/or country of origin of the oil. Some American websites proclaim a high carvacrol content on the assumption that that means better healing properties.

Not all of my aromatherapy suppliers even stock oregano oil. Those who do all list the species as O. Vulgare - countries of origin include Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, France. Some websites from Greek or Turkish interests claim that oil from those countries is the best - but this is not always substantiated. Some, however, claim that the best (Greek or Turkish) oil - or the one with the highest carvacrol content - is O. Vulgare subspecies Hirtum, which one source says is also known as Origanum heracleoticum. Another species mentioned is O. Onites.

Just to bring things full circle, Tisserand and Balacs (Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1995) suggest that irritant properties of oils containing some phenols, including carvacrol, are specifically related to those chemicals - the implication is that the higher the carvacrol content, the more irritant the oil may be. 

OREGANO LINKS  (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)


Abstract der Dissertation von Möller, Thomas Partly in German, partly in English. Description of an experiment involving adding oregano oil to the feed of piglets.

Dried Oregano Fact Sheet at NaturalHub.com has good information on different species, inc. subspecies Hirtum, and on chemicals found in the herb and oil.

Kalite Baharat Turkish supplier of dried oregano, exporting about 3000 tons  per year. Details of the production process for the dried herb.

Mediscover have an article "Oregano oil may protect against drug-resistant Staphylococcus" (original source: Georgetown University Medical Center).

Numark Pharmacists have some good background information on the plant and research and uses both as a herb and an oil.

Oreganol.com have some links to research on this oil, including pdf files on experiments showing effectiveness against strains of influenza (flu) and avian influenza (bird flu). These latter files are the original technical papers, rather than summaries for the layperson. Note that just because an oil is effective in vitro (in the test-tube) does not mean it will necessarily work in vivo (in a living organism). Relevant factors include dosage, method of use, toxicity and other safety issues.

Plants For A Future has a lot of background information about the plant, its uses and cultivation.

Tiferet Aromatherapy has some more info from a professional aromatherapy viewpoint - they say they have heard from several people who have burned their mouth and throat trying to take oregano oil orally.

Uncle Harry's Natural Products has a good page on experiments on oregano's antiseptic powers form the early 1990's onward, including some by the pioneers of aromatherapy. He says "after careful study they (Belaiche and colleagues) decided to identify a maximal therapeutic Oregano oil as containing a phenol total above 50% with a minimum of 40 % Carvacrol and the rest Thymol." - i.e. not one with the highest possible carvacrol content!

See LINKS2 for other aromatherapy and general health websites.

OREGANO OIL, SAFETY AND WARTS - INTERNAL USE -
 WHAT MAKES OREGANO WORK? - OREGANO LINKS

Paul Boizot. Page update 28.10.14.

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