Oregano Oil: Is It Good for You?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on January 06, 2023
4 min read

Oregano oil, or oil of oregano, comes from the leaves of the oregano plant and has been used in folk medicine for centuries to prevent illness. Today, many people still use it to fight infections and the common cold despite its renowned bitter, unpleasant taste.

Although more research is needed into the health benefits of oregano oil, studies have confirmed that it has the following properties:

  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antidiabetic
  • Cancer suppressant

One teaspoon of dried oregano leaves contains: 

  • Calories: 2.65
  • Protein: 0.09 gram
  • Fat: 0.04 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 0.69 gram
  • Fiber: 0.42 gram
  • Sugar: 0.04 gram

Oregano is a good source of: 

  • Iron

Oregano is also an excellent source of vitamin K. Studies have shown that vitamin K is important for bone health and regulating blood sugar.

Oregano oil also contains antioxidants, which help stop free radicals from causing damage to your cells that can lead to serious diseases such as cancer.

Research has found a number of potential health benefits of consuming oregano oil: 

Antibacterial Properties

Several studies have shown the powerful antibacterial properties of oregano oil, even against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

In one study that tested the antibacterial effects of a range of essential oils, oregano oil was found to be the best at hindering bacterial growth.

Because it can protect against bacterial infection, topical oregano oil has been shown to be effective in wound treatment and healing, even killing off methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

In addition to being a powerful antimicrobial agent, oregano oil also has anti-inflammatory effects. One study showed that oregano essential oil significantly inhibited several inflammatory biomarkers in skin. 

Improvement of Acne

Because of its combined antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, oregano oil may help improve the appearance of acne by reducing blemishes. Since using oral antibiotics to treat acne has a range of potential side effects, oregano oil may provide a safe and effective alternative when used topically.

Cholesterol Management

Oregano oil has been found to support healthy cholesterol levels. A study of 48 people who took a small amount of oregano oil after each meal showed a significant reduction in their LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, which is one of the main causes of the clogged arteries that can lead to heart disease.

Digestive Health

Oil of oregano is commonly used to treat digestive problems like belly cramps, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome, among others. While more research continues, experts have found that oregano is high in carvacrol. This is known to be effective against types of bacteria that cause digestive discomfort.

Because oregano oil has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Consider the following before using oregano oil either internally or topically:


Because oregano oil is such a powerful antimicrobial agent, it can also be toxic to humans. Taken in large doses, it can even be lethal. Only use the recommended amount of oregano to yield its benefits. Further studies into its toxic effect on humans is needed.

Skin Irritation

Although oregano oil can help with some skin ailments, like acne, it may irritate sensitive skin. Don’t apply undiluted oregano oil directly to your skin. Patch test any products containing oregano oil to ensure they won’t cause any adverse effects. Additional research on skin irritation caused by it on humans is required.

Pregnancy Concerns

Research on the effects of oregano oil on someone who is pregnant or breastfeeding has been inconclusive. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding a baby, it is best to look for an alternative. 

Medication Interference

Avoid oregano oil if you’re already taking a diuretic, as it may worsen medication side effects. Since oregano has natural diuretic properties, it may interfere with the action of lithium and similar medications. 

Oil of oregano can be purchased at just about any grocery or health food store. It’s also common for people to make it at home by blending oregano leaves with olive oil or another oil of your choice. 

To prepare your own oil of oregano at home, follow these steps:

Wash and chop your oregano leaves.

Place them in a clear jar, then add warmed oil and stir it all together.

Seal the jar and keep it in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks, giving the jar a shake every day or so. 

After 2 weeks, strain the oil and discard the leaves. Seal and refrigerate the now-infused oil of oregano and use it as desired. As you can see, making your own oil of oregano is quick and easy.