Oil of oregano is an essential oil extracted from the leaves and shoots of oregano, a herb from the Lamiaceae family. The use of oregano oil as herbal medicine is popular due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities (1).
In this post, MomJunction tells you if it is safe to use oil of oregano during pregnancy, its uses in general, and its side effects.
Is Oil Of Oregano Safe During Pregnancy?
The use of oregano oil is found to be unsafe during pregnancy. The oil, even in small amounts, is known to cause side-effects and allergic reactions. Certain compounds of the oil might trigger uterine stimulation and cause preterm labor.
Possible Side Effects Of Oil Of Oregano During Pregnancy
The following are the possible side effects due to oral or topical use of oregano oil during pregnancy.
- Allergy: Allergic reactions could occur, especially in individuals who are allergic to other plants of the Lamiaceae family. Some plants that can exhibit cross-reactivity with oregano oil are basil, lavender, mint, and sage.
- Drug interaction: Oil of oregano has shown possible drug interactions, such as medicines for diabetes. The oil could react with the drug and cause a rapid drop in blood sugar levels.
- Risk of bleeding: Oregano enhances the risk of bleeding in individuals with bleeding disorders. It can worsen the situation when you are already on blood clotting medications.
Experts believe that the use of oil of oregano in early pregnancy can cause uterine contractions, leading to miscarriage.
When To See A Doctor?
See a doctor if you are having the following symptoms after using the oil of oregano.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain
- Stomach cramps and bleeding
The oil may not be safe during pregnancy, but in non-pregnant individuals, it has some uses.
General Uses Of Oil Of Oregano
Oregano oil is a popular condiment and flavoring substance in several cuisines (4). Below are some of the general uses of oregano oil for non-pregnant individuals.
- Immunity: The dietary use of oregano oil has shown immunity-modulating properties in some animal studies due to its antioxidant potential and ability to alter gut microbiota (5) (6). A similar impact has been reported when oil of oregano is used topically (7).
- Respiratory health: The topical use of oil of oregano to treat cold and cough is prevalent as a home remedy (2). However, scientific studies on this are sparse.
- Anti-inflammatory: A few studies have affirmed the anti-inflammatory property of oil of oregano upon oral and topical use due to the presence of bioactive compounds such as carvacrol and thymol (8) (9).
- Gut health: A research study on animals showed that dietary consumption of oil of oregano could possibly help enhance nutrient digestibility. It may also enhance intestinal barrier integrity (10). Also, an in vivo study showed that oil of oregano could keep the gut healthy by acting on enteric parasites (11).
- Weight loss: The bioactive compounds, such as carvacrol found in oregano oil, could help in weight loss (12). However, targeted clinical trials are needed to confirm this observation.
- Pain relief: Some research studies note the pain-relieving properties of the topical use of oregano oil (7) due to the carvacrol content (13).
- Infections: The antimicrobial activity of oil of oregano is well-established (14). Some research studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating skin wound infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria (4). Thus, some experts in alternative medicine use oil of oregano as a potential antibiotic.
Alternative medicine also uses the oil of oregano for aromatherapy during pregnancy. It is believed that its use could relieve discomfort and help a pregnant woman relax. However, it is not known if inhalation of oregano oil vapors is safe during pregnancy.
2. Oregano Oil; Winchester Hospital
3. Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy; The University of Texas at El Paso
4. Min Lu et al.; Bactericidal Property of Oregano Oil Against Multidrug-Resistant Clinical Isolates; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
5. Mahmoud Abd Elaziz Mabrok and Ali Wahdan; The immune modulatory effect of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) essential oil on Tilapia zillii following intraperitoneal infection with Vibrio anguillarum; Springer Link
6. R.Zhang et al.; Dietary oregano essential oil improved the immune response, activity of digestive enzymes, and intestinal microbiota of the koi carp, Cyprinus carpio; Science Direct
7. Xuesheng Han and Tory L. Parker; Anti-inflammatory, tissue remodeling, immunomodulatory, and anticancer activities of oregano (Origanum vulgare) essential oil in a human skin disease model; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
8. Silva FV et al.; Anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer activities of carvacrol, a monoterpene present in the essential oil of oregano.; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
9. Farukh Sharopov et al.; Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Essential Oils of Selected Aromatic Plants from Tajikistan; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
10. Yi Zou et al.; Oregano Essential Oil Improves Intestinal Morphology and Expression of Tight Junction Proteins Associated with Modulation of Selected Intestinal Bacteria and Immune Status in a Pig Model; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
11. Force M et al.; Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo.; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
12. Cho S et al.; Carvacrol prevents diet-induced obesity by modulating gene expressions involved in adipogenesis and inflammation in mice fed with high-fat diet.; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
13. Rita de Cassia da Silveira e Sa et al.; Analgesic-Like Activity of Essential Oil Constituents: An Update; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
14. Leyva-Lopez N et al.; Essential Oils of Oregano: Biological Activity beyond Their Antimicrobial Properties.; National Center For Biotehcnology Information