What Is It?

A pungent herb from the mint family, oregano derived its name from a Greek word meaning “mountain brightness” or “mountain joy.” It’s widely used in cooking and is a popular herbal remedy, especially in its essential oil form.

Use It For

Fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts

The Science

A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that gram for gram, oregano has 42 times more antioxidants than apples. Abundant research has proven it to be a powerful agent against bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts in a lab setting, but there are very few human studies indicating whether the body absorbs oregano in a way that makes these properties effective internally. A human study in 2011 found that an essential-oil herb-blend spray including oregano reduced cold symptoms within 20 minutes of use compared to a placebo, but after three days of use, the effect was minimal.

How to Take It

At the first sign of an upper-respiratory infection, take four drops of oregano oil diluted in water. To combat intestinal parasites, take 200 mg of oil of oregano in pill form three times daily for six weeks. You can also try using oregano oil topically, diluted in coconut oil, to heal skin infections, promote wound healing, counteract athlete’s foot and other fungal infections, and possibly even repel insects.

Attention: Moms!

Experts recommend avoiding supplemental doses of oregano when you’re pregnant or nursing, because not enough is known to declare it safe. But it’s perfectly fine in the amounts used in cooking.