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In my previous blog, I wrote about the antibacterial effects of oregano oil. 

But can it fight viruses? Well, I think it can to some degree.     

oregano oil

Main components of oregano oil are carvacrol, thymol and P-cymene .  

A 2011 study tested the antiviral activities of oregano oil against 8 DNA and RNA viruses for humans and cows. It showed that the oil was effective inhibiting 5 out of 8 viruses examined in vitro (See Table 1). 

First of all, low cell toxicity was observed for the cell cultures in general.  The oil was effective suppressing viral activities in 5 of the 8 viruses.  But what’s interesting here is that all 5 viruses inhibited by the oil were enveloped types. The antiviral activity against these viruses were more prominent when the cells were pre- and post-treated with oil.  In other words, oregano oil was present before and after the virus was introduced to the cell.

Different types of viruses tested

HSRV                     Human respiratory syncytial virus, an enveloped RNA virus

HHV                       Human Herpesvirus, an enveloped DNA virus causing herpes

ACRV-HHV-1         Human acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus type     

RV                          Human rotavirus, one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis (diarrhea), a non-enveloped virus with a double strand RNA

BVDV                     Bovine viral diarrhea virus 

BoHV                     Bovine herpesviruses for cattle, an enveloped DNA virus

The table below shows that it had no or little antiviral effects on three bovine herpesviruses; it doesn't work on cows!

Table 1 

Table 1

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Another experiment showed that essential oils (anise, hyssop, thyme, ginger, chamomile, sandalwood) had more notable effect when viruses or cells were treated with oil BEFORE virus inoculation.  The oils were tested against HHV-1 and 2, which are enveloped viruses.  It could imply that the oils may interact with the viral envelope (protective coating) and glycoproteins of HHV.  The enveloped viruses enter a host by fusing its envelope with the host cell or endocytosis.  The oils are shown disrupt the viral envelpe and such fusion.. 

This study also showed that carvacrol alone was not as effective as essential oils. The synergistic effect of the all the components of the oil might attribute as its reason.

For reference, see the graph below for the antiviral effects of essential oils against HSV-1 [pfu (plaque-forming unit)/ Effective Concentration).


In conclusion, I don’t think oregano oil is the cure nor has the ability to completely kill coronavirus like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.  Nor it is effective against all types of viruses.  However, it seems that it could at least reduce the activities of some viruses to a degree.  Covid-19 is an enveloped RNA virus.

Also, oregano oil drops can be directly applied to throat (you put it under the tongue) where viruses harbor causing sore throat before reaching the lung.  If the strength of the virus or it’s capsid could be weakened beforehand, it might mitigate the infection.  And the rest, your immune system might be able to fight it off.  And that is probably why oregano oil has been used as Granma's flu remedy for hundreds of years. Then again, it is merely my deduction.

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