Oil of Oregano vs Oregano Essential Oil

If you look in your kitchen cabinet right now, you’re likely to find the commonly used herb oregano. After all, your pastas, sauces, meats, and salads wouldn’t be the same without it.

But did you know that the oregano plant contains volatile oils that may provide therapeutic benefits? It’s true: the oils from this wonder plant have been linked to everything from helping fight bacterial and fungal infections (1, 2) to supporting a healthy inflammation response (3).

But what, exactly, is the difference between oil of oregano vs oregano essential oil? Here’s everything you need to know.

Oil of Oregano vs Oregano Essential Oil

Oil of oregano is an herbal supplement that may provide antioxidant support, boost your immune health, and help sustain your overall well-being. You may also see it go by “oregano oil” on product labels. It’s extracted from the leaves of wild oregano plants (Origanum vulgare) using a solvent, such as ethanol or CO2.

Oil of oregano can be taken orally in the form of softgels and capsules, which deliver a concentrated liquid herbal extract. These extracts are typically blended with other oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, ginger oil, fennel oil, or flaxseed oil.

If you don’t take pills, oil of oregano is also available in dropper bottles. The label may suggest taking a drop or two under the tongue, or diluting a few drops in water or juice.

Oil of oregano dietary supplements should not be confused with 100 percent pure oregano essential oil, which is potent and potentially caustic. Oregano essential oil is typically extracted from the dried leaves or flowering tops of the plant using a steam distillation process.

Pure oregano essential oil can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy purposes or applied topically when diluted with a carrier oil of your choice.

“When diluted with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, sesame, or coconut oil, or with a cream, such as shea butter, it can be suitable to apply topically,” says Registered Dietitian Rochelle Sirota.

You can also use oregano essential oil as an ingredient in homemade household cleaners, bug repellents, herbal shampoos and more.

Benefits of Oregano

In order to better understand the many benefits of oregano, you have to break down its therapeutic properties. The oils found in oregano contain phenolic compounds, including carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, and rosmarinic acid, Sirota says.

These components have been recognized for their antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties (3).

However, most of the research on oregano has been done in test tube or animal studies, so there’s not enough scientific evidence to validate the potential health benefits for humans.

How to Choose an Oil of Oregano Supplement

As previously mentioned, oil of oregano supplements can be found in capsule and softgel forms, as well as liquid extracts.

“Oil of oregano supplements are available in various potencies, commonly ranging from 50 mg up to 230 mg or more,” Sirota explains, adding that a common dosage is roughly 150 mg taken twice daily in between meals for up to 14 days.

However, “recommended dosages depend on the condition being addressed, as well as the size and age of the person taking the oil of oregano,” she notes.

It’s best to purchase oil of oregano from a reputable company, Sirota recommends, and to choose a product that is labeled as USDA-certified organic, unfiltered, standardized, and/or processed in a GMP (good manufacturing practice) facility.

Oregano Precautions

While the culinary use of dried and fresh oregano during a pregnancy is generally considered safe, women who are pregnant or lactating should avoid using oil of oregano supplements or oregano essential oil, Sirota cautions.

As with any essential oil, precautions should be taken when using oregano essential oil, “since people have varying levels of sensitivities,” Sirota says.

Pure essential oils should always be diluted before use. If you apply undiluted oregano essential oil topically, it can cause burning, as well as injury to sensitive membranous tissues, Sirota warns.

When it comes to introducing any new dietary supplement or essential oil into your routine, it is always best to speak with your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition or take prescription medications.

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