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Fact Or Myth: Oregano Essential Oil Can Protect Your Family Against Coronavirus
PHOTO BY Wikimedia Commons
  • Just this morning, I received a message from a friend asking me about an article that is currently circulating about oregano essential oil being effective in combating coronavirus. During a press conference on novel coronavirus by the Department of Health (DOH), we saw someone comment that oregano essential oil could help. But how true is this?

    The said article was published in 2009, and no other sources were cited except one website. I scoured quickly through reliable resources, such as the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and PubMed, a free search engine database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics.

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    Can oregano essential oil protect against coronaviruses?

    As a certified aromatherapist, I could not find any research suggesting oregano essential oil as protection against coronaviruses. In fact, it was debunked back in May 2003 by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and (FTC) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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    In 2002 to 2003, the world was dealing with another outbreak, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that happens to be a coronavirus as well. In a press release at the time, the FTC and FDA were warning consumers about websites offering SARS “prevention kits,” which included oregano essential oils.

    Based on unverified claims, the websites promised consumers protection from SARS by purchasing “personal air purifiers, disinfectant sprays and wipes, respirator masks, latex gloves, dietary supplements like colloidal silver and oregano oil, and SARS’ prevention kits’ that package various items together, such as gloves, masks, and wipes.”

    “Websites may be subject to state or federal investigation or prosecution for making deceptive or misleading marketing claims that their products can treat, prevent, or cure SARS,” the press release stated.

    While the current 2019-nCOV situation is scary, we need to be more discerning of our sources of information. As the FTC pointed out, “If a medical breakthrough involving SARS has occurred, would they be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?”

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    Oregano essential is potent but not for the Wuhan coronavirus

    Oregano is one of the strongest essential oils because of its chemical components. A 2014 study, found in PubMed, had suggested that oregano essential oil and its major chemical component, carvacrol, showed potential in its antiviral activity. However, this had been against murine norovirus and not coronaviruses.

    Oregano essential oil needs to be used with caution and proper guidance by a qualified professional on methods of application. It contains constituents that are highly irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, authors of the book, Essential Oil Safety, warned that children age 2 and younger, as well as people with hypersensitive skin, should avoid using it.

    Oregano essential oil is recommended at maximum dermal use of 1.1% — that’s about one drop oregano essential oil to 10 milliliters of carrier oil. It’s also not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

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    While many in the medical community does not recognize essential oils yet due to the lack of randomized control trials and research in general, we must err on the side of caution in times like this because we do not want to do more harm than good. Doctors and scientists are still studying the new strain discovered in Wuhan City of the Hubei province in central China in December 2019. They are researching and testing its sourceincubation, and transmission in the hope of containing the outbreak and manufacturing a vaccine.

    I would love to believe that oregano essential oil can counter these viruses. Still, we are yet to see evidence-based data to ensure the safety and efficacy of its use.

    Balot Del Rosario is a NAHA-registered, Certified Level 2 professional aromatherapist. She is also the author of the book, Lost but Found, and the mom-of-two behind the blog Chronicles of The Happy APAS Mama (www.callmebalot.com.)

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    For updates on the coronavirus outbreak, click here. To know more about the use of other essential oils, click here.

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