(The following is my personal experience with oregano oil and should not replace professional medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement.)
Last year, I was sick with upper respiratory infections (i.e. head colds) at least 5 times. Because my post-prednisone immune system is still trying to get back on track, this usually translates to being hit with viruses that leave me laid up for 2-3 weeks at a time. That’s way too much unnecessary downtime. Although I do my best to get all my immune-fighting strength through nutrition, sometimes it’s just not enough (the fact that I have Crohn’s and potential malabsorption issues could play a role as well), so I knew I needed some supplemental help. Just as I started the hunt to find some supplements that could help fight off colds and support my immune system, a doctor happened to mention oregano oil to me. He told me to take it (in capsule form) at the first sign of a cold because it has been shown to fight off viruses. So with the chilly weather in full swing and my immune system often working against me, I decided to give it a try.
Benefits of Oregano Oil
After doing some of my own research, I came to find out that the benefits of oregano oil are plentiful, and it is quite the immune-boosting herbal remedy. Studies show that it has effective anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. In particular, oregano oil has been found to be beneficial in fighting respiratory infections, yeast infections, giardia, norovirus, and even cancer. Because of it’s antiseptic properties, it also has been shown to be an effective ingredient for hand washing and household cleaning solutions.
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How to Take Oregano Oil
Taking oregano oil in capsule form is recommended because the essential oil is very potent, even when diluted (I tried the essential oil drops diluted in water, and it burned my throat, so I personally don’t recommend this; there are ways to dilute it with carrier oils, but I haven’t tried this myself). Instead, I now take this blend in capsule (softgel) form (made by NOW Food). In addition to its virus-fighting and anti-fungal properties, the blend includes ginger and fennel oil, which provide further health benefits (particularly intestinal support). This supplement also contains extra virgin olive oil and is free of gluten, soy, milk, egg, yeast, fish and shellfish (it contains gelatin, however, so it is not vegetarian). While some have reported gastrointestinal symptoms after taking oregano oil, I have found this blend to be easy on my stomach as long as I take it in moderation (and as long as I take it WITH FOOD; without food it will cause nausea). Because oregano oil is potent, 1-2 capsules a day is plenty for me, and it has not exacerbated any of my Crohn’s symptoms at this dosage (3 capsules a day, on the other hand, has caused some Crohn’s-related abdominal pain, so I’ve learned where my body draws the line). Because some people have adverse reactions, it’s best to start with the minimum dosage — always with food — and see how you do. You can find NOW Foods Oregano Oil Softgel capsules here (or check with your functional medical doctor for his or her brand recommendations).
Oregano Oil Conclusion
So far, my experience with oregano oil has been great, and I’m really enjoying the benefits. I did slip up and caught one cold after Christmas a few weeks ago, but with the recommended dosage, I was able to fight off that cold within 5 days (it normally takes me 14-21 days to fully recover!). And I do feel it has helped me fight off colds altogether when I took it at the onset of my symptoms. Of course, this is completely anecdotal, but this experience (along with the impressive list of medical studies) is enough to convince me to keep oregano oil on-hand for the times when I’m feeling under the weather.
Please note that oregano oil — like any herbal supplement — should be taken with caution. If you notice any adverse reactions or undesirable symptoms, discontinue use. Pregnant and nursing women, children, infants, and those with an allergy to plants from the Lamiaceae family are advised to avoid oregano oil (fennel and ginger oil also should be consumed with caution and/or avoided in certain circumstances). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement.