Wednesday, December 03, 2014

OREGANO - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

Oregano is a well-known spice in Italian cooking. This plant is just as useful in the medicine cabinet as it is in the kitchen ...

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a plant in the mint family that is closely related to marjoram.  It has been used around the world as a culinary spice for flavouring grilled meats and vegetables, and as a preservative for meats.  In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, and as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments.  More current healthcare practitioners use oregano extract for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Oregano oil can be used topically for skin infections, like Athlete's foot, ringworm and folliculitis.  It is also useful for treating colds, sore throats, coughs, chronic respiratory conditions, yeast infections, viral infections, bacterial infections, diarrhea and indigestion.

Respiratory Infections
This herb not only kills infecting microbes in the respiratory tract but also acts as an expectorant (helps to expel mucus) and antispasmodic (relieves coughing).  This is beneficial in a number of respiratory conditions such as: bronchitis, croup, as well as common colds and flus.

Digestion and IBD
In the digestive tract oregano soothes digestion and decreases diarrhea, by stopping intestinal spasms.  It also directly kills gastrointestinal microbes and decreases gas and bloating.  The current theory is that Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn's and Colitis may have a triad of predisposing factors.  These factors include: an unbalanced gut flora, a trigger event such as physical or emotional stress, and a bacterial or microbial invasion (infection). Given this theory, studies are currently investigating the use of oregano oil to treat IBD, and help prevent flares.   For more information, please see our IBD article.

It is essential to be sure that you supplement probiotics when taking oregano internally.  Because of its antimicrobial action, oregano can also eradicate the normal healthy gut flora, which can cause further digestive problems.  Supplementing probiotics can replenish this loss and prevent future infections.  For more information, please see our Probiotics article.

Essential Oil
The essential oil of oregano is a highly concentrated substance. It comes in various strengths, sometimes referred to as a percentage (i.e.: P73). Make note of the phenol carvacrol, one of the most active ingredients in oregano, responsible for the majority of its medicinal benefits. A carvacrol content of 70% or more is optimal. 

How can I take Oregano?
Oregano can be purchased as a loose herb, encapsulated herb, spice or essential oil. The loose herb can be made into a poultice for topical application, used for inhalation or taken as a tea for internal use.  Oregano may be included in combination teas for soothing digestion.  When the essential oil is taken internally, 1-3 drops under the tongue, 3x/daily is a typical dosage.  Acutely, you can do up to 3 drops every hour for the first day you are experiencing signs and symptoms of cold, flu or food poisoning (for up to 10 hours).  The earlier in the infection cycle that oregano is taken the more easily it prevents progression to a full blown illness.

External Use
Externally, you can apply oregano to almost any affected area, although use extreme caution when treating highly sensitive mucosal membranes, such as the vagina and anal areas.  It is highly recommended, when treating these areas that you use a carrier oil to dilute the essential oil, in order to prevent burns.  Olive, almond or coconut oils are all good options.  Before applying externally, you may want to test a small area of skin with the diluted essential oil, to ensure there is no reaction or determine if further dilution is necessary.  A few drops of oil of oregano can be added to shampoos to treat dandruff, eczema or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. It can also be rubbed (using fingertip) on the gums to treat and prevent gingivitis, as well as a few drops added on your toothbrush to kill germs and treat bad breath.

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