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The common food spice oregano grows wild in the mountains of Mediterranean countries. In ancient Greece, oregano or its essential oil was used for the treatment of wounds, snakebites, spider bites, and respiratory problems. Respiratory uses dominated the medicinal history of oregano in medieval Europe, but in the nineteenth century, physicians in the Eclectic School (a medical movement that emphasized herbal treatment) used oregano for promoting menstruation.
In the 1990s, the concept of the yeast hypersensitivity syndrome (often called “systemic candidiasis,” or merely “candida”) became popular in alternative medicine circles. This theory states, in brief, that many people develop excessive levels of the yeast Candida albicansand subsequently experience allergic symptoms to the yeast in their body. The symptoms of this purported syndrome include common conditions such as fatigue and headache. A succession of anticandidal treatments have been offered as treatment. Oregano oil is one of the more recent of these products.
There are no specific safety risks known to be associated with use of oregano oil products. However, in general, essential oils of herbs can be toxic when taken even in relatively small quantities. Allergic reactions are also possible.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.