Oregano Oil, MRSA, Pain, Cancer Risk

Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Oregano Oil, MRSA, Pain, Cancer Risk
The Mediterranean herb oregano has an extensive track record among medicinal traditional herbs and culinary tastes. Oregano use dates back to the ancient Greeks who harvested its leaves and flowers for the oil content of the plant. Oregano oil contains carvacrol, the active oil within the plant. Common oregano oil use has been for treating infection related illnesses and diseases. New studies demonstrate just how powerful oregano oil is against superbugs. Recent research identifies additional findings with oregano oil and carvacrol for more than just its powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties into the world of cancer risk reduction.

MRSA, Candida, and Athlete’s Foot

The presence of flesh eating bacteria or MRSA is a real, scary phenomenon that can change someone’s life in nearly a blink of an eye. MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is deadly. Because of the antibiotic resistant nature of MRSA, researchers have explored the use of the essential oil carvacrol from oregano as a therapeutic antimicrobial agent. The scientists blended oregano oil with cinnamon, tea tree oil, and lavender and mixed it with an emulsion in a cell culture with MRSA and also with Candida albicans. They evaluated how well the blend of oils worked against MRSA and candida and found their antimicrobial activity was intact and able to provide favorable germ killing activity against these deadly microbes in cell cultures.

Just like there are drug resistant bacteria, there are drug-resistant strains of candida. In a study published weeks ago, it was found that oregano oil and cinnamon oil provided the highest anti-fungal activity against the Candida glabata strain that can be resistant to the drug fluconazole (Diflucan).

Those struggling with foot fungus (Tinea pedis) or athlete’s foot may find using a foot soak with oregano oil and salt quite helpful. Research showed that a hot water foot soak at 107 degrees Fahrenheit with oregano oil and salt caused considerable damage to the fungus, remarkably relieving the athlete’s foot problem.

Supportive Impact with Cancer Risk and Pain

Research in the last year alone shows promising and very supportive roles with cancer risk reduction, cancer co-treatments and cancer pain management with oregano oil’s active ingredient carvacrol. Here are some of the recent findings.

A study published last month in the journal Anticancer Drugs found that carvacrol has anti-tumor properties for one of the most common malignancies in the world, colon cancer. The researchers investigated the effects of oregano oil’s active essential oil, carvacrol in human cancer cell lines, HCT116 and LoVo. They studied its molecular activities and found that carvacrol inhibited the growth and migration of these two colon cancer cell lines in a concentration-dependent manner. The treatment suppressed cell invasion and the activity of matrix-metalloprotease-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9. The therapeutic intervention also caused cell apoptosis/cell death to occur. The authors’ concluded “our results suggest that carvacrol may have therapeutic potential for the prevention and treatment of colon cancer”.

An animal colon cancer study found that when oregano oil was combined with radiation treatment, synergistic therapeutic effects occurred against colon cancer. Study results on animals that had colitis or colon inflammation that then developed into colon cancer showed potent benefits from oregano oil’s carvacrol. The animal groups treated with 50 mg of carvacrol per kilogram of body weight had a marked increase in major antioxidant enzymes like glutathione and SOD while the inflammatory damage from lipid peroxides and the detrimental nitric oxide form decreased. This is encouraging news as colon cancer not only is one of the most common cancers in the world; it also has a high mortality rat.

Other research demonstrates oregano oil’s ability to protect DNA from free radical stress induced by hydrogen peroxide in liver cancer. Stomach cancer research is also looking at oregano oil. A sophisticated cellular study published October 2015 studied emulsified carvacrol placed into human serum albumin nanoparticles. Albumin is a protein found in the blood that acts as a carrier for many different substances like hormones throughout the body. In this cellular study, highly absorbable carvacrol was loaded onto the albumin protein and then exposed to gastric (stomach) cancer cells. Results compared carvacrol added together with chemotherapy agents to treat the gastric cancer. The study results demonstrated carvacrol with the albumin improved treatment of the cancer. When it was combined with chemotherapy agents, stomach cancer cell destruction was enhanced.

Oregano oil’s active ingredient carvacrol is a monoterpene. Monoterpenes have been extensively studied for control of painful conditions and inflammation. Research published earlier this year evaluated the effect of carvacrol on pain management in rodents that had sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer found in bone and muscle. They combined the carvacrol with a carrier carbohydrate (beta-cyclodextrin) to make it more soluble and compared this to a group of rodents without the carrier substance. Both groups treated with carvacrol experienced less pain for 9 to 24 hours. When the oregano oil was combined with a carrier, the pain reduction lasted for up to 24 hours.

Another animal study showed that oregano’s carvacrol was able to significantly reduce pain and pain sensations from cancer. Simultaneously, it decreased tumor growth and supported healthy anti-inflammatory immune compounds and GABA, the relaxant neurotransmitter that’s involved with pain management.

In any of these studies, carvacrol by itself or combined with medical treatment offered therapeutic results. These cellular and animal studies show that the combined treatment provided superior results. This type of information offers those who are in the situation of traditional cancer treatment options to enhance medical treatment or explore natural options.

Food Borne Illness

There has been a flurry of studies trying to find safe antimicrobials for the food manufacturing industry. The intent is to find compounds that prevent food from spoiling and food borne illness. Oregano oil along with cinnamon has been found to be highly favorable and safe to use. These two oils have been found protective against the bacteria Listeria and Salmonella, the yeast Candida albicans, and the mold Aspergilus. Recommendations are to add this to the industry. As food manufacturers explore this concept and it trickles into actual use, it certainly offers a safer food package than current chemical preservatives.

A diet rich in spices like oregano offers great incentive for preventative and protective effects. The prized antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral history of oregano oil over millennia speaks for itself. Other research demonstrates its effectiveness for depression and support for serotonin and dopamine and weight loss. This spicy herb provides sophisticated support and should be considered part of a dietary and nutritional regime for a wide variety of uses.

When supplementing with oregano oil, avoid products that do not disclose the amount of carvacrol or ones that dilute the oregano oil with other added oils. These manufacturing practices reflect low quality oregano oil with compromised carvacrol activity. Carvacrol and the monoterpenes found in oregano oil are what provide the powerful antimicrobial, pain reducing, antioxidant, and cancer risk reduction properties of oregano oil. Don’t settle for a compromised product, especially when you need some big guns.

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