How to Use Oregano Oil for Colds and Flu

Why You Need Oil of Oregano for Cold and Flu Season
Why You Need Oil of Oregano for Cold and Flu Season

With cold and flu season around the corner, it's a good idea to prepare in advance as much as we can. Oil of oregano could win an award as one of the most effective natural preventives and treatments for the common cold and flu. Many have also reported great results using oregano oil for sore throat. And in case you're wondering, this oregano is not the same as the herb you put in your pasta sauce.

One reason oil of oregano is considered an essential oil hero is the presence of carvacrol, among the most bioactive components of this herb. This kryptonite of oregano has demonstrated its anti-crime potential in a number of ways; that is, it has antibacterial, antivirus, antifungus, antitumor, anti-inflammation, and antiparasitic properties.

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Oil of oregano, which is made from the leaves and flowers of the herb, also contains some other potent compounds that can be helpful when you want to prevent or treat a cold or flu. Here are four reasons why this herb is so potent:

  • Thymol: a natural antiseptic that can enhance immune system function and promote healing
  • Beta-caryophyllin: known for its anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Naringin: enhances the antioxidants in oregano oil, which in turn can improve its ability to fight cold and flu viruses
  • Rosmarinic acid: an antioxidant that also is a natural antihistamine

To enjoy the health benefits of oregano essential oil, it's important that you choose an oil produced from wild oregano (Origanum vulgare), which is native to the Mediterranean, or from Thymus capitatus, a variety found in Spain. More than 40 other oregano species are available, so be sure to read the label and buy from reputable manufacturers only.

How powerful is oil of oregano?

For those who want to see what the scientists say, there's a study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology in which researchers exposed a mouse norovirus (a human norovirus surrogate) to oregano oil and carvacrol. Both treatments were effective against the virus, but carvacrol was better, inactivating the virus within one hour of exposure.

Using oil of oregano for colds and flu

If you want to help prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses on your hands and household surfaces, then you may want to use a liquid soap that contains oregano essential oil or add the oil to an all-natural brand you are using now. 

An investigative team looked at the use of liquid detergent solution with added oil of oregano (0.5%) and found that it was as effective as a commercial antimicrobial soap, but without the harmful ingredients such as triclosan and chloroxylenol (and since the FDA recently banned many antibacterial chemicals why not make a safer homemade alternative?).

How to use oregano oil for colds and flu

Since the taste can be strong (which is a good thing!), I have found the best way to take oregano oil is by diluting several drops of the oil in orange juice, olive oil, or coconut oil. However, according to Theresa Ramsey, NMD, if you place a few drops under your tongue and keep them there for several minutes, the strong taste will be minimal and the results will be faster and stronger (because it gets absorbed faster). If you prefer not to taste anything, then you can purchase oil of oregano capsules at natural product stores.

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The general dosing for oil of oregano for adults is 2 to 3 drops three to four times daily once you have a cold or flu. For preventive or maintenance purposes, take 2 to 3 drops twice a day. 

Oil of oregano capsule dosage

If you prefer to take supplements, use 100 to 150 mg oregano oil capsules in place of the 3 to 4 doses daily. To treat a sore throat, you can add 5 to 6 drops of oregano oil to a glass of water and gargle several times a day (I like to place the drops directly in my throat so I'm sure it is doing its magic!).

Oil of oregano can be given to children, although the strong taste makes convincing them a challenge. Fortunately, there are oregano oil supplements specially formulated for youngsters (including natural cinnamon or mint oil to mask the taste of the oregano), and they should be dosed as recommended by the manufacturer. You can also add a couple of drops of the liquid to the bottom of their feet and then cover with socks to trap the vapors. We call this "pizza feet" in our house.

Alternatively, add a few oregano oil drops in a diffuser or vaporizer to help clear up a stuffy nose and sinuses. Breathe in the pleasant aroma for a few minutes several times a day.

Oregano oil and breastfeeding?

You should limit your use of oregano oil to only 7 to 10 days. Oil of oregano is not recommended for infants or pregnant women. As you should also conclude, using oregano oil while breastfeeding is not recommended. Also, avoid if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.

[Editor's Note: North American Herb & Spice makes many formulations of oil of oregano from drops to capsules, that are appropriate for kids and adults alike.]

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Gilling DH et al. Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2014 May; 116(5): 1149-63
Rhoades J et al. Oregano essential oil as an antimicrobial additive to detergent for hand washing and food contact surface cleaning. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2013 Oct; 115(4): 987-94
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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.