The Big O
By Anthony Almada, M.S.

Thanks to its antibiotic properties, essential oil of oregano has yielded savory results in test-tube studies as a food preservative fending off bacterial growth. In what appears to be the only human study, 14 subjects testing positive for intestinal parasites were given 600 mg of emulsified essential oil of Mediterranean oregano for six weeks. This led to a reduction or eradication of different parasites in all of the subjects, along with improved GI symptoms. However, the study was not placebo-controlled. Also note: Test-tube studies suggest oregano may influence the actions of progesterone in the body and, therefore, may not be wise to take during pregnancy. In addition, the strength of oils varies from season to season; hence, so would the effects.

To get the full flavor of oregano's health benefits, a controlled, clinical trial is called for. Such a study should also explore the essential oil's effects on good bacteria, such as the probiotics Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, which may also be killed.

Anthony Almada, M.S., has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.