Is It Safe To Use Oil Of Oregano When Pregnant?

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Oregano oil is a fragrant essential oil drawn from the shoots and leaves of the oregano plant from the LamiaceaeiXA family of herbs and shrubs characterized by aromatic leaves, square stems, and irregular flowers family. It is popularly used as a herbal medicine in several cultures. However, some wonder whether it is safe to use the oil of oregano when pregnant.

Research reveals that oregano oil possesses antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory benefits that may improve health over time (1).

Read on to learn more about whether it is safe to use oregano oil while pregnant, its general uses, precautions, possible side effects for you and your baby, and when to consult a doctor.

In This Article

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 uterineiXRelated to the uterus of a female stimulation and cause preterm labor.

As there is inadequate research on the safety of oregano oil during pregnancy (2), both oral and topical use is discouraged during pregnancy (3).

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.

  1. 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.

    Oregnao shows cros-reactivity with sage, basil, mint and lavender

    Image: Shutterstock

  1. Drug interaction:There are contraindications for using oil of oregano, particularly when taking medications for diabetes. The oil could react with the drug and cause a rapid drop in blood sugar levels.
  2. 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.

protip_icon Research finds
A study reveals that although oregano oil has a GRAS status (Generally Recognized As Safe), it may have embryotoxiciXPoisonous alteration caused to the embryos by chemicals or other substances impacting the normal development of the fetus effects. During the study, when the oil was administered to pregnant mice, it led to embryonic cell death (15).

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.

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Muscle pain
  4. Fatigue
  5. Stomach cramps and bleeding
  6. VertigoiXThe feeling of the head-spinning while completely still , headache
  7. Difficulty in swallowing
  8. Excessive salivation

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 condimentiXA flavorful substance used to enhance the taste of food and flavoring substance in several cuisines (4). Below are some of the general uses of oregano oil for non-pregnant individuals.

  1. 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).

    Dietary use of oil of oregano when pregnant is food for immunity

    Image: Shutterstock

  2. Respiratory health: The topical use of oil of oregano to treat cold and cough is prevalent as a home or natural remedy (2). However, scientific studies on this are sparse.
  3. 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 carvacroliXA liquid phenolic component found in essential oils belonging to the mint family, mainly used as scents, fungicides, and disinfectants and thymol (8) (9).

Oregano has diverse species, encompassing an array of bioactive compounds that contribute to oregano’s functional characteristics. The following graph compares the relative percentages of these bioactive compounds in different oregano species. Notably, carvacrol is one of the most common compounds found in nearly all species shared in the graph.

Major bioactive compounds of the essential oils in oregano species

Source: Extraction Techniques and Analytical Methods for Characterization of Active Compounds in Origanum Species; Molecues
  1. 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 studyiXA study conducted on living organisms such as animals and humans showed that oil of oregano could keep the gut healthy by acting on enteric parasites (11).
protip_icon Research finds
In a study, 14 adults experiencing gastrointestinal issues and chronic fatigue due to fecal parasites were given 600 mg of oregano oil. After six weeks, the parasites disappeared in many adults (16).
  1. 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.
  2. Pain relief: Some research studies note the pain-relieving properties of the topical use of oregano oil (7) due to the carvacrol content (13).
  3. Infections: The antimicrobial activity, antifungal and antiviral properties of oil of oregano are 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.
Oil of oregano can treat skin wound infections

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the most common use for oregano?

Oregano is commonly used as a culinary herb. Their oils are used in meat processing, salads, stews, alcoholic beverages, and baked foods (17).

2. What is the best way to take oregano oil?

Oregano oil is listed as an herb to avoid during pregnancy as it may induce uterine contractions (18). So, it is advised to avoid using oregano oil altogether during pregnancy.

3. Can oil of oregano help with morning sickness or nausea during pregnancy?

UK-based consultant gynecologist Dr. Osama Naji says, “While some people believe that oregano oil might alleviate morning sickness or nausea due to its potential digestive benefits, there’s insufficient scientific evidence to support this claim. Other methods, such as consuming small, frequent meals and staying hydrated, are much more established for managing these symptoms during pregnancy.”

Oregano oil is widely used for its beneficial properties, such as increased immunity, weight loss, pain relief, and antimicrobial activity. It is also believed to provide relaxation and comfort during pregnancy through aromatherapy. However, topical and oral use of the oil may induce harmful effects in pregnant women, such as bleeding and allergic reaction. Therefore, given the uncertainty about its safety, you must consult your OB/GYN for prenatal care guidelines before using the oil of oregano when pregnant.

Infographic: Points To Note When Using Oregano Oil

Oregano is a commonly known condiment majorly used as a topping for pizzas and burgers. But the use of oregano oil is not very common, especially in the case of pregnant women. Thus, consult the doctor immediately if you have been using oregano oil and notice any of the signs mentioned in the infographic.

conditions to be alert of after using oregano oil (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

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Key Pointers

  • Oregano oil is an essential oil derived from the oregano plant.
  • Oregano oil has many benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties.
  • Taking the oil orally in large doses or for prolonged periods during pregnancy is not recommended.
  • The oil extract may be used during pregnancy only after a doctor’s consent, as it can cause adverse effects such as preterm labor and bleeding.

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Magdalena de J. Rostro-Alanis et al.; Chemical Composition and Biological Activities of Oregano Essential Oil and Its Fractions Obtained by Vacuum Distillation; National Center For Biotehcnology Information
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
15. Noura S. Dosoky et al.; Maternal Reproductive Toxicity of Some Essential Oils and Their Constituents; NCBI (2021)
16. Oregano (Origanum vulgare); Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine
17. Oregano
18. Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

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