Washington, D.C. — Oil from the common herb oregano may be an
effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug-resistant
bacteria, a Georgetown researcher has found. Two studies have shown that
oregano oil—and, in particular, carvacrol, one of oregano's chemical
components—appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional
antibiotics. These findings will be presented at the American College of
Nutrition's annual meeting October 6 and 7 in Orlando, Fla.
Preuss, MD, MACN, CNS, professor of physiology and biophysics, and his
research team, tested oregano oil on staphylococcus bacteria—which is
responsible for a variety of severe infections and is becoming
increasingly resistant to many antibiotics. They combined oregano oil
with the bacteria in a test tube, and compared oregano oil's effects to
those of standard antibiotics streptomycin, penicillin and vacnomycin.
The oregano oil at relatively low doses was found to inhibit the growth
of staphylococcus bacteria in the test tubes as effectively as the
standard antibiotics did.
Another aspect of the study examined the efficacy of oregano oil and
carvacrol, which is believed to be the major antibacterial component of
oregano, in 18 mice infected with the staph bacteria.
of the mice received oregano oil for 30 days, and 50% of this group
survived the 30-day treatment. Six received the carvacrol in olive oil,
not oregano oil, and none survived longer than 21 days. Six mice
received olive oil alone with no active agents (the control group) and
all died within three days. A repeat study corroborated these findings,
which demonstrates that there are components of oregano oil other than
carvacrol that have antibiotic properties.
"While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a
small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant
further study," Preuss said. "The ability of oils from various spices to
kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural
oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many
anti-germicidals under a variety of conditions."
study was sponsored by Waukegan, Ill.-based North American Herb and