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Thinking of trying oil of oregano to cure your cold? Here's what you need to know
Oil from the oregano plant is said to have antimicrobial properties
Head to your nearest health-food store with a bad cold or sinus infection and you might be told to try oil of oregano – a herbal remedy straight out of the alternative medicine cabinet that some swear can conquer classic symptoms like a runny nose, headache and itchy eyes.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also be warned about the flavour. While the dried herb might make for a rich spaghetti sauce, oil of oregano, when dropped under the tongue, is as potent as turpentine and tastes just as terrible.
Oregano leaves contain several chemical compounds, including some that are said to have therapeutic effects.
Carvacrol and thymol, for instance, have antimicrobial properties, while terpinenes are said to kill bacteria. Oil of oregano is also believed to have antifungal and antiparasitic properties. The plant, which is high in fibre, iron and vitamin K, also contains many phytonutrients that are said to act like antioxidants, preventing cell damage.
For all the anecdotal hoopla about its reported healing powers, solid scientific studies regarding the effectiveness of oil of oregano in the treatment of colds and sinus disorders are sorely lacking, plus too little is known about oil of oregano taken in medicinal amounts.
Before self-medicating sinusitis or a cold with oil of oregano, talk to your doctor.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.