Oregano Oil Combats Candidiasis

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Posted on June 5th 2014. Written by Chrystal Moulton. Featured on Natural Health Research Institute

Mice with an extremely deadly fungal infection were cured 100% by treatment with very low doses of oregano oil.

Oregano oil has been noted for its antimicrobial properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of certain fungi.(1) In the current study (2), researchers wanted to test the effect of oregano oil against a human strain fungus known as Candida albicans. Tests were performed in vitro and in mice.

Groups of mice (n=6 each group) were infected with 5 times the lethal dose of C. albicans. They were given daily doses of either oregano oil or carvacrol (the active ingredient found in oregano oil) diluted in 0.1ml of olive oil for 8 days. Another group of mice following the same protocol were also given oregano oil and carvacrol, but for 30 days. In each case, researchers wanted to determine a therapeutic dose of oregano oil against the fungus, while comparing its effectiveness to amphotericin B (pharmaceutical drug commonly prescribed against this fungus). At the end of 8 and 30 days respectively, internal organs were examined and analyzed for traces of the fungus. The experiment was designed as an observational study and specific doses for each treatment were administered to mice based on body weight.

Treatment groups were as follows

8-day Treatment Protocol

  • Oregano oil (mixed with 0.1ml olive oil)
  • Amphotericin (mixed with 0.1ml olive oil)
  • Olive oil

30-day Treatment

  • Oregano oil (mixed with 0.1ml olive oil)
  • Carvacrol (mixed with 0.1ml olive oil)
  • Amphotericin (mixed with 0.1ml olive oil)
  • Olive oil

Researchers found that with a dose of 162.5mg and 325mg/kg of body weight (wt) for 8 days was as effective as amphotericin B (1mg/kg body wt) and resulted in a 100% survival rate of the mice. However, traces of the fungi were found in the kidneys of the mice even after treatment with either dose of oregano oil after 8 days. See Table 1 for details.

Table 1. Effect of Oregano Oil after 8-day Treatment

Effects Tested Oregano Oil Amphotericin B (1mg/kg Olive Oil
162.5 mg/kg 325.5 mg/kg
Survival (n=6) 6 out of 6 6 out of 6 6 out of 6 0 out of 6
No. of mice with C. albicans in tissue 6 out of 6 4 out of 6 0 out of 6 None survived

*Six mice per treatment group.

In the second experiment lasting 30 days, researchers found that a daily dose of 8.66mg/kg body wt completely cured 80% of the mice (5 out of 6 mice) and at 17.33mg/kg body wt 100% of mice (6 out of 6) were free of the fungus. Results were the same for the carvacrol treatment, however they observed that the mice recovering from the fungus under the oregano oil treatment had an overall improved coat luster and much less scruffiness compared to the mice in the carvacrol treatment group. At the therapeutic dose of 17.33mg/kg body wt, oregano oil and carvacrol was as effective as amphotericin B (1mg/kg body wt) in combating the spread of C. albicans in the body.

In vitro analysis revealed 75% growth inhibition of the fungus in agar plated samples of C. albicans with 0.125mg/ml of oregano oil after 24hrs. For carvacrol, twice the amount (0.25mg/ml) was needed to be as effective as oregano oil.

Overall, researchers found that oregano oil was as effective as amphotericin B in combating the spread and deadly effects of C. albicans. During the trial, researchers found the toxic dose of oregano oil was 650mg/kg body wt (equivalent to 3,689mg in humans). The therapeutic dose of 8.66mg/kg and 17.33mg/kg body wt in mice is equivalent to 98mg/day in humans. A ratio of 3/37 was used to convert animal data to human doses. Also, even though carvacrol is an active anti-microbial component of oregano oil, Cosmetic appearance of the mice was greatly improved with oregano oil versus carvacrol treatment. Researchers believe that other components of oregano oil such as thymol, terpenes, and flavonoids may have contributed to the overall difference in appearance between the two treatment groups. In the end, researchers noted that oregano oil may be a viable treatment against candidiasis and hoped that more clinical trials would be performed to verify their results while exploring its possible use in other illnesses.

Source: Manohar, Vijaya, et al. “Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 228.1 (2001): 111-117.

© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

 References:

  1. Salgueiro LR et al. Chemical composition and antifungal activity of the essential oil of Origanum virens on Candida species. Planta Med. 2003 Sep;69(9):871-4.
  2. Manohar V, et al. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans. Mol Cell Biochem. 2001 Dec;228(1-2):111-7.

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