Most everyone has eaten oregano at some point (most likely on pizza!), but not everyone is aware of how many health benefits this tasty herb offers. This is especially true for anyone with respiratory issues. I’ve been using oregano to help with my asthma symptoms for awhile now.
To use oregano oil for asthma, add it to water, and drink 1-3 times a day. You can also gargle with it. It is very important to ONLY do this for products labeled ‘oregano oil.’ Oregano essential oil is a different product that should not be consumed in this way, so always be careful to read your bottle carefully. You can also take oregano oil in capsule form.
Oregano has unique properties that make it a very promising alternative treatment for asthma and related respiratory conditions. If you don’t want to try oregano oil, I’ll cover some alternative ways to consume oregano below. But first, let’s explore oregano oil and how it might help you.
What Is Oregano Oil
People have been using oregano medicinally for centuries, for a range of conditions ranging from urinary tract infections and dandruff to arthritis and gum disease (source). A common way to consume oregano has been to extract the oregano leaves to make a very potent essential oil.
As a pure essential oil, oregano has lots of uses, but it can also be too strong to consume on its own. In fact, in large doses, it can be dangerous, even lethal. And even in small doses, essential oregano oil used incorrectly can lead to skin irritation (although note that when used properly, oregano oil might help with acne).
So when you look for oregano oil, try to find one that is high quality from a good source (like this one you can get on Amazon). I don’t mind paying a little extra for a good product. Since you only use a few drops at a time, even a small bottle will last awhile.
Note that if your oregano essential oil is mixed with other oils (like I recommend), then you should not use it in a diffuser. And in fact, some people suggest oregano essential oil should not be used in an inhaler or diffuser, because it can cause breathing difficulties (source).
Why Is Oregano Oil Good for Asthma and The Lungs?
One of the traditional medicinal uses of oregano and oregano oil has been to treat asthma and lung ailments, and new research is suggesting that people were right to use it this way. Oregano offers many health benefits for the lungs and immune system.
So before we get into how to use oregano for lung health, let’s look at some of the reasons why you might want to.
There are at least 9 ways that oregano and oregano oil may be beneficial for people suffering from asthma, COPD, and other respiratory ailments.
According to the Lung Institute, oregano contains carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, both of which are natural decongestants and antihistamines (source). Decongestants reduce swelling in your nose, sinuses and throat, relieving pressure and making it easier to breathe. This is especially helpful for asthma, which, as you may well know, also often goes hand-in-hand with allergies.
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways, short and simple. And that’s why I am always on the lookout for natural ways to reduce inflammation. Oregano oil contains thymol and rosmarinic acid, both of which are anti-inflammatory (source).
Everyone with asthma is familiar with chest pain. This study suggests that oregano may help provide pain relief, making it of further benefit to asthmatics.
If you have asthma you are also likely familiar with coughing too much. According to WebMD, oregano has chemicals that might help reduce cough and spasms (source).
Sore Throat Relief
Soothing sore throats has traditionally been one of the main uses of oregano oil, and I’ve personally found it to help mine. There isn’t much scientific research into how and why oregano may help the throat, although a limited 2010 study did find an oregano throat spray was mildly effective (source). Oregano’s pain relieving and antibacterial properties (discussed below) may be contributing factors.
Studies have confirmed that oregano oil is indeed antibacterial (source). This can help boost your respiratory health and possibly help reduce bacterial infections.
Similarly, oregano oil is confirmed to have antiviral properties (source). These antiviral properties may be very beneficial to lung health, since respiratory ailments often begin with viral infections (source).
Studies also confirm that oregano oil is antifungal (source), and this may have more of an impact on your asthma than you might think. The research is still preliminary, but some types of fungus have been linked to exacerbating asthma and chronic allergic sinusitis (source). And an overgrowth of fungus in your body can have lots of other nasty side effects.
Finally, oregano tea is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, which accounts for many of its health benefits. And, importantly, it is a confirmed antioxidant (source), which can help prevent cell damage.
One of the best ways to keep your asthma in check is to keep your whole body healthy. Oregano contains many healthy nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E, as well as small amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and folate. For a completely nutritional listing of oregano, see here.
How To Use Oregano Oil For Asthma (And Other Respiratory Ailments)
A reminder before we get into how to actually use oregano oil for asthma. Everything I’m about to discuss applies only to oregano oil that has been diluted in another oil. Plain oregano essential oil is generally made for diffusing, not consuming. Always read your labels very carefully before putting anything into or on your body (this is good advice in general, but especially important when dealing with something as potent as oregano oil).
To use oregano oil for asthma and other benefits, I like to drink it in water. Some people like to drink it in juice or add honey to disguise the taste. But my advice: it’s not going to taste good, so just put it in water and chug it down as fast as you can.
That said, I will often swish the oregano oil water around my mouth, or gargle with it to really let it work on my throat. So don’t worry too much about the taste – you get used to it pretty quickly.
Every bottle of oregano oil will have a different potency, and as yet there is no medically studied dosage suggestions. So I suggest you follow the instructions on your bottle to get the right dose, putting the oil into a glass of water and drinking 1-3 times a day.
The first few times you drink oregano oil, you may experience bloating and cramping – I definitely did (I also drank the full recommended dose on my first go). So that’s why I recommend you start small, and make sure you take it at a time when you’ll be able to relax and see what happens after.
If you experience these bloating symptoms, it may be because the oregano is actually working to kill bad fungus in your body. I believe this was the case for me. The first night I drank it, I experienced severe bloating. But after that first night, I haven’t experienced any discomfort, and I actually find my digestion to be much improved now.
So use some common sense. Be cautious, start slowly, and don’t continue using any alternative therapies that bring you discomfort or unease. And if you find it stings your lips a little, just use a straw.
If you just can’t get past the taste of oregano oil, then know that there are capsules you can take (like this affordable option on Amazon). You should still reap many of the rewards, although I like to drink the oil to allow it to coat my throat.
There is another way to enjoy the benefits of oregano, and that’s to drink it in tea form. I do this on a regular basis, and have actually come to enjoy the flavor, which is much milder than the oil. You can make oregano tea by steeping fresh or dried oregano leaves, or by buying pre-made teabags (such as these you can order online, which is what I usually do).
To learn more about the benefits of oregano tea for the lungs, click here.
Some people also suggest that you rub oregano oil onto your chest, neck and/or throat. I haven’t tried this personally, and if you do try it, be careful, as essential oregano oil can cause skin irritations. Always follow the instructions on your bottle, and only use oil that is very diluted.
While oregano is generally safe if consumed in normal quantities, people with bleeding disorders, heat palpitations, or diabetes should avoid it, and it is also considered a natural blood thinner. Note that oregano is a diuretic, so it you are taking medications with lithium or something similar, talk to your doctor. In fact, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first before taking any new supplements, including oregano. It’s usually recommended that pregnant and nursing women avoid oregano oil and supplements as well.
Oregano oil may also interfere with iron and zinc absorption, so you may want to consider supplementing if you take oregano on a regular basis. In general, if you have asthma, then having a healthy diet will be one of your best defenses against symptoms. Learn more about the best diet for asthma here.
Finally, I’ve read that you should only take oregano oil for three weeks, then take a break before starting again. I don’t think there is any research to corroborate this, but it’s something to keep in mind.
I say it all the time on this blog: nothing can cure asthma, and no one treatment will work for everyone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for as many healthy ways as we can to lessen our symptoms.
I’ve had great luck in treating my asthma. I used to take my inhaler up to 10 times a day, even waking up at night needing it. Now, I still carry it, but I can’t remember the last time I needed it (seriously – learn more about my journey with asthma here).
So oregano oil won’t be a cure all for your asthma. But you never know – it might really help. Keep a record of your results in your asthma journal, always talk to your doctor before making any major changes in your lifestyle, supplements or diet, and I hope you have as much success with oregano oil as I have.