Bacteria are a part of our everyday environment, we would not exist without them. They live by the trillions in the soil, water and on our food supply, and are present on the inside and outside of our bodies; bacteria help the young to develop their immune system responses. Only a very small number of bacteria will ever go on to cause disease (pathogenic bacteria); the overwhelming majority will maintain a comensual, and oftentimes, symbiotic relationship with the host body.
Although our body's defense mechanisms quickly go into action to fight off intrusions as soon as they are detected, “individuals with defective immune responses are prone to frequent, recurrent infections, even with the least harmful of bacteria.” 1)
TB, Strep, Staph, E coli and Salmonella are some of the more common types of bacterial infections found in humans. Once bacteria become pathogenic, they are not only capable of causing disease, but also rob the body of “nutrients such as iron, which is necessary for the bacteria to survive.” 1)
Antibiotics and antifungals (antimicrobials that kill microorganisms) are prescribed to treat various infections, although antibiotic resistance is problematic. Much research has been done over the years to seek out non-resistant forming, natural alternatives. Oregano is one of mother nature’s most versatile herbs and is being investigated as an “alternative antibacterial in enhancing the healing process of bacterial infections, in turn preventing antibiotic resistant strain development.” 2)
When the antimicrobial (antibiotic/antifungal) properties of Wild Turkish Oregano (O. minutiflorum, containing 82% carvacrol) were investigated against 16 bacteria and 2 yeasts, it “showed strong antimicrobial activity against 17 of the tested micro-organisms.” It was determined in this study that minutiflorum could be used as an alternative to antibiotics to combat microbial diseases. 3)
When Origanum minutiflorum was tested against TB, it was found to be “especially active”. The study concluded that the Antibacterial and Antimycobacterial properties within the plant “may support the use of the oregano species in traditional medicine to treat microbial infections.” 4)
The in vitro antimicrobial activities of Oregano (Origanum minutiflorum), containing 73.93% carvacrol, were investigated against 19 pathogenic plant bacteria. Minutiflorumcompletely inhibited 18 of the 19 tested bacteria. The results of this study determined that “O. minutiflorum displayed a “strong and broad spectrum application against tested plant pathogens, as well as standard antibiotics”, and could potentially be used as an antimicrobial agent in new drugs for therapy and/or control of plant diseases.” 5)
Salmonella and E. coli are common bacteria that grow in pre-packaged salad mixes. Treating packaging with oregano oil is shown to be an “edible alternative to chemicals in the reduction of food-borne bacteria, and was shown to significantly reduce bacterial pathogens induced by contaminated leafy green vegetables.” 6) In another study on food-borne bacteria, Oregano, (Origanum minutiflorum) completely inhibited Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. Staph were also destroyed by minutiflorum in this study. 7)
Oregano essential oil shows great promise as a natural antibacterial agent (in laboratory settings) and may help to prevent bacterial infections when used on a regular basis. Existing infections should always be evaluated and treated by a qualified Medical Professional. Oregano Oil can be used in combination with prescription antibiotics. Keep in mind that antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria, so consider using a quality probiotic to replenish the good bacteria killed off by antibiotics.