There’s one essential oil that is—pardon the pun—essential to have in your medicine cabinet: oil of oregano (Origanum vulgare).

Fresh oregano is quite common in Mediterranean cooking. What is lesser known is that oil of oregano’s use can be traced back as far as Babylonia, 3000 BC.

Oregano leaves contain natural compounds, particularly carvacrol and thymol, that account for its antimicrobial dexterity. The herb is picked and the medicinal compounds extracted from the dried leaves.

Antifungal

Oregano oil is perhaps nature’s strongest fungal fighter. Candida albicans causes candidiasis, a common human fungal infection, and oregano oil has been found to completely inhibit the growth of C. albicans in culture.

Another study found that essential oils of tea tree, oregano, and rose geranium have a synergistic antifungal effect against 11 candida strains, especially when combined with Amphotericin B, a drug used to treat systemic fungal infections.

Oregano oil was recently proven to inhibit the growth of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger, two mold fungi.

Antibacterial

Oregano oil possesses a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. The oil and its constituent carvacrol were separately tested on two strains of Staphylococcus aureus and were found to be bactericidal in culture studies.

In related experiments Staph bacteria was injected into mice and it killed all mice untreated with oregano oil within one week. In mice who received treatment with oral oregano oil, over one-third survived longer than 30 days.

Oregano oil also effectively treats the infection of dysentery bacteria, according to Chinese research.

Other benefits

In one study 14 patients had the intestinal parasites Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni and Endolimax nana. After six weeks of 600 mg of oregano oil daily, there was a complete disappearance of Entamoeba hartmanni (four cases), Endolimax nana (one case), and Blastocystis hominis in eight cases.

Although no scientific studies exist, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some people with psoriasis, a skin condition typified by a buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells, say that oil of oregano eases their symptoms.

Due to its potency, oil of oregano should be diluted in olive oil in a ratio of 40:60 respectively. Look for a carvacrol content of at least 80 percent to ensure potency, and keep this oil handy to fight pesky micro-organisms.