Apart from being a delicious herb used in a variety of dishes, oregano has several medicinal uses as well.
Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic and therefore, can help manage bacterial infections and is particularly helpful in treating gut disorders where you have excess bacterial growth like SIBO.
In this post, we will talk about everything you should know about oregano oil and how it can be used to find relief when you have SIBO.
So, let's get started!
How can oregano oil help with bacterial infections and SIBO?
The main ingredient in oregano oil is believed to be a substance called carvacrol. And although it is also found in many other herbs like thyme and marjoram, oregano has some of the highest concentrations of the substance.
Several studies have shown that carvacrol has powerful antibacterial properties and is effective against multiple bacteria like Bacillus, E. coli, Pseudomonas, and Salmonella.
It helps destroy bacteria by poking holes through their cell membranes, causing leakage of bacterial components, and altering the internal chemistry of the bacterial cell.
What makes carvacrol special is that it selectively eradicates harmful bacteria without doing a lot of damage to the gut's "good" bacteria.
This benefit of oregano oil can't be overstated. Most pharmaceutical antibiotics indiscriminately eradicate all bacteria present in our body, even the good kind that helps in digestion and other functions like mood regulation.
This can throw your gut flora into disarray (a condition known as gut dysbiosis) and lead to various health disorders like depression, anxiety, diabetes, and gut problems like SIBO.
Lastly, apart from its antibacterial properties, carvacrol has also been shown to be effective against some viruses and yeasts like Candida.
What else can oregano oil help with?
Other than acting as a natural antimicrobial, oregano oil has several other health benefits and can help with:
Studies have found that carvacrol present inside oregano oil helps suppress the COX-2 pathway of inflammation.
This anti-inflammatory effect of oregano can be useful in managing chronic inflammatory disorders of the body such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Breathing problems and allergies
Carvacrol isn’t the only beneficial substance found in oregano. The herb also contains a wide array of potent terpenes and flavonoids that can help fight asthma, chronic cough, and allergies.
If you’re planning to travel to a developing country any time soon, you might want to consider bringing along some oregano oil in case you develop a case of traveller’s diarrhoea.
According to studies, the chemicals found in oregano oil are strong enough to kill the most common types of bacteria, worms, and parasites associated with traveller’s diarrhoea.
Why not just use a pharmaceutical antibiotic?
It’s highly tempting to simply pop a pill when you’re sick and hope you get better. However, this isn’t something most doctors recommend, especially when it comes to antibiotics!
Long-term use of certain medicines and antibiotics can cause quite a few problems down the line.
Here are two of the biggest reasons you should always try to avoid using potent antibiotics and stick to natural remedies like oregano oil if possible.
Preventing antibiotic resistance
Perhaps the biggest reason to take oregano oil instead of traditional antibiotics is antibiotic resistance. Bacteria are simple organisms with fast reproductive cycles, which means they can evolve very quickly.
Evolution occurs when an organism has a random mutation that allows it to survive a potential threat (for example, exposure to an antibiotic).
These mutated bacteria can then reproduce and form a newly evolved strain that is more resistant to certain antibiotics.
You should know that antibiotic resistance is widespread. More and more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are popping up simply because people can’t stop themselves from self-diagnosing and taking antibiotics at every hint of infection.
Because of rapidly growing antibiotic resistance, researchers predict that we may soon experience a re-emergence of diseases that were prevalent centuries ago. Examples include diphtheria and typhoid.
Unlike some antibiotics, oregano won’t hurt your normal gut flora
Of course, it’s always recommended to speak to a doctor before taking any potent herbal antibiotic, especially if you suffer from SIBO.
However, compared to antibiotic medication, oregano oil is always much safer to use and has a decreased chance of causing harm to the good bacteria of your gut.
Individuals suffer from SIBO when they get the wrong type or have too much bacteria growing in their digestive system.
In this case, the worst thing you can do is take the wrong antibiotic, which can further disrupt your gut flora. In fact, poor use of antibiotics may even cause SIBO in some cases!
How to use oregano oil for SIBO?
It’s important to realise that even though it’s a natural herb, oregano oil is still a potent antibiotic and should therefore only be used for a short period. This is because high doses of oregano oil can increase the risk of gut dysbiosis.
To help with absorption, it should be taken with a “carrier oil” such as coconut, jojoba, or olive oil, depending on your preference.
Things to keep in mind
- Depending on the severity of your SIBO, it can take anywhere between 1-5 weeks for oregano oil to give positive results.
- When taking oregano oil orally, only take it for one to two weeks at a time.
- Most experts recommend diluting it in a carrier oil.
Taking oregano oil sublingually
- If not pre-diluted, dilute the oregano oil with a carrier oil with a ratio of at least one drop of oregano oil to one drop of carrier oil (1:1).
- Place a drop or two under the tongue and wait for a few minutes. Then rinse your mouth with water.
- Use 50mg of oregano oil four to six times a day to achieve the most antibacterial benefits.
Taking oregano oil supplements/capsules
- You should generally use a dose of 50mg four to six times a day.
- But read and adhere closely to the manufacturer’s recommended dose as different brands may contain different concentrations of carvacrol.
Need gut help? Contact Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD, founder of Casa de Sante & gut health coach.