Origanum vulgare (Oregano) is native to Greece, but mostly produced today in Turkey. Like all mints, the plant has a squared stem and is extremely aromatic.
Oregano loves hot dry weather and grows well at high altitudes also. The active ingredients, found in the leaves, are the volatile oils thymol and carvacol. These oils have a complex, strong, and pleasant odor. Oregano is often thought of as a “pizza” herb.
The medicinal qualities of oregano fall into two major categories: bronchial dilation and anti-microbial activity. Many volatile oils will help to clear congested sinuses or even a chest cold. You could drop a few drops of the concentrated oil into the bottom of a large bowl, put in a few cups of hot water and situate yourself over the bowl, under a large towel, so you can breathe in the “fumes” of the oil coming up in the steam. Be very careful never to put concentrated volatile oils, and this certainly includes oregano, directly against mucus membranes (inside of nose, mouth, vagina and especially not in the eyes). You could also make an oregano tea (1 tsp dried leaves to 2 cups piping hot water; allow to steep 5 minutes or more before drinking) which will probably require some mild sweetening. Stevia, licorice extract or raw honey are good choices.
Oregano is a very potent anti-fungal. In my clinical experience, oregano is much more effective at combating mold and yeast overgrowth than Tea tree (Melalucca). For example, if you have moldy car carpets, or mold around the edges of your shower or bathroom window, spray these areas with thyme oil (put a small amount in a small spray bottle dilute with a bit of water to create enough volume to make the sprayer work) then wipe up with a clean towel. That yucky black mold will come right up, make your car (or bathroom) smell great, and keep the mold away for months!
For chronic candidiasis, my current protocol (which has worked reliably for nearly 10 years now) involves Oregano. First, most patients need tightening up of the gut cells (enterocytes) which have lost their integrity and tight junctions over years, usually due to injudicious dietary choices, leading to chronic inflammation and inadequate elimination of waste matter. A bad case of candidiasis is when overgrowth of this normal gut flora “leaks” into the blood stream through the damaged mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. Candida albicans, and about a dozen other “bugs” (both bacteria and fungal species) are supposed to live in the gut, distributed in specific regions according to optimal gut pH (acid-alkaline balance), to help with digestion and absorption of micro-nutrients (glucose, essential fatty acids and amino acids). Often, however, the optimal environment of the gut gets thrown off by too much sugar, not enough water, too much food in general, greasy food, and yes, donuts are absolutely horrible food. When the gut environment is chronically compromised, the bugs can go haywire. Sometimes the good bacteria can’t survive, and this allows the fungal organisms (such as Candida albicans) to proliferate. That’s what happens when you take antibiotics all the gut bacteria, good, bad and indifferent, are blasted, allowing the fungal species to rise up and create further imbalance.
So, the enterocytes need to be “tightened up” first, and I like to use tannins for this job. Tannins are high in black tea and other astringent foods. Next, when the risk of Candida die-off getting into the bloodstream is minimized, I apply the anti-fungal. That’s where Oregano comes in. I prescribe gel-caps of Oregano (sometimes along with Thyme or Lavendar volatile oils as well, in a mixture) for at least 3 weeks, until rectal itching, ear canal itching, under-the-breasts itching, spaciness, and sugar cravings resolve.
Finally, to finish up the treatment for Candida overgrowth, I’ll give excellent probiotics for 2-4 weeks. I generally advise patients to take a month a year to “repopulate” their gastrointestinal tract with the healthy bugs that belong in the intestines (probiotics) since we are chronically exposed to chemicals and pollutants that compromise the delicate balance of symbiotic organisms that live on and inside us.
Oregano has also emerged as a very effective non-resistant anti-bacterial. There have been studies published recently about the use of Oregano oil in a topical salve effectively healing MRSA infections. MRSA (methycillin resistant staph aureus) is a huge problem in hospitals, and also in communities through the US, as antibiotic resistance becomes more common. J Med Microbiol. 2007; 56(Pt 4):519-23 Typically these “super bugs” are not just resistant to methycillin, to but all penecillin type antibiotics. You or your pharmacist can put some volatile oil of oregano in some kind of plain hand lotion, a 2 or 3% compound would probably suffice, for placing directly on the skin over MRSA infections, as long as the skin is not broken, which requires immediate medical attention.