Oregano is a beloved herb with great importance in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries. Oregano is composed of a diverse array of health stimulating substances such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, and essential oils. 

Oregano shares many of the same phytonutrients as rosemary, like rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, both of which are potent antioxidants. Also, oregano is highly valued for its essential oils. 

Essential oils are volatile oils that have characteristic odors and beneficial properties. Plants produce essential oils to attract pollinating insects and to protect themselves from invading pests and disease.

In humans, essential oils potentially promote well-being. The primary components of essential oils are a distinct class of substances called terpenes. The principal terpenes in oregano are carvacrol and thymol.

Potential Benefits of Oregano for Musculoskeletal Health*   


1. Oregano is an antioxidant 6,7,8,9

Oxidative stress is a well documented risk factor for joint, bone, tendon, and muscle disease.

Oregano helps protect cell walls from unstable free radicals that are hell bent on stealing electrons from important cell wall structures. If the cell wall is irreparably harmed, the cell is no longer viable and undergoes programed cell death.

Also, oregano defuses volatile oxygen and nitrogen molecules that if left unchecked cause severe damage to joint, bone, and muscle tissue. Finally, oregano stabilizes highly reactive metals that cause injury to vital proteins, enzymes, and DNA.

Italian investigators examined the antioxidant effects of oregano. The authors found that oregano was effective at quenching the most common pathways of oxidative stress including: neutralizing oxygen free radicals, blocking iron induced oxidation, and disrupting lipid peroxidation(fat oxidation).(Cervato, G., Carabelli, M., Gervasio, S., Cittera, A., Cazzola, R., & Cestaro, B. (2000). Antioxidant properties of oregano (Origanum vulgare) leaf extracts. Journal of Food Biochem- istry, 24, 453–465.)


2. Oregano is an anti-inflammatory 10,11,12,13

Low grade inflammation contributes to chronic joint, bone, and muscle injury. Oregano’s active ingredients attack inflammation through multiple pathways:

  • Oregano inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha, the foremost signaling molecule that catalyzes and coordinates the inflammation pathway.
  • Oregano impedes the synthesis of other ancillary pro-inflammatory signaling molecules called interleukin, like interleukin-6.
  • Oregano amplifies the production of anti-inflammatory messenger molecules that counteract certain aspects of unconstrained inflammation.

Researchers at Rutgers University examined the anti-inflammatory effects of oregano in a mouse model of inflammation. The authors concluded that oregano extract induced a significant reduction in markers of inflammation; signaling out rosmarinic acid, oleanolic acid, and ursolic acid as especially effective.(Shen D et al. LC-MS method for the simultaneous quantitation of the anti-inflammatory constituents in oregano (Origanum species). J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jun 23;58(12):7119-25.)



Oregano is generally recognized as safe when consumed in usual culinary and herbal doses.

As with any consideration of any form of supplementation consult your healthcare provide prior to use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medications or have any medical conditions. Discontinue use and consult your doctor is any adverse reactions occur.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



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  2. Zuzarte, M.; Salgueiro, L. Essential oils chemistry. In Bioactive Essential Oils and Cancer; De Sousa, D.P., Ed.; Springer International Publishing: Cham, Switzerland, 2015; pp. 19–61
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  10. Ocan ̃a-Fuentes, A., et al. (2010). Supercritical fluid extraction of oregano (Ori- ganumvulgare) essentials oils: Anti-inflammatory properties based on cytokine response on THP-1 macrophages. Food and Chem. Toxicol. 48:1568– 1575.
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  13. Arranz, E.; Jaime, L.; López de las Hazas, M.C.; Reglero, G.; Santoyo, S. Supercritical fluid extraction as an alternative process to obtain essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties from marjoram and sweet basil. Ind. Crop. Prod. 2015, 67, 121–129.
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 Lucas J. Bader MD

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