Oregano oil is long considered a germ killer. Many people regularly take oregano oil for gut health. But because probiotics are bacteria and yeast, can the oil components tell the difference, or will they also kill the probiotics?
Studies using oregano oil and probiotics have conflicting results. So, you might see some gut health blogs or books promoting the use of these two together, while others recommend that you quit either (you can choose which one to stop taking) because oregano oil just cancels the good effects of probiotics.
But according to my research, timing is your best friend when taking these two useful, gut-friendly products.
How does timing work? When to take oregano oil and probiotics so they won’t affect each other? What’s the oregano oil effect on gut flora?
Let’s take a look at each one below.
Is Oregano Oil Good For Your Gut?
Yes. Oregano oil has long been documented to be good for the gut, thanks to its anti-microbial properties. A 2011 study in the Research in Microbiology journal showed that this oil is effective against pathogenic bacteria, particularly some Gram-positive and Gram-negative food-related bacterial strains.
This oil can also help prevent damage to your gut walls, helping prevent the so-called “leaky gut.” A leaky gut happens when the gut walls are damaged, creating holes that can leak toxins into your body. It leads to various problems, including inflammation.
Pathogens suffer death from oregano oil, thanks to its carvacrol components, the 2011 study explained. Carvacrol can significantly alter the bacterial cell wall, damaging it in such a way that the bacteria’s defenses (the shield wall) are lowered.
Once the defenses are down, it becomes easier for other oregano oil components, such as calcium and intercellular substances, to attack the rest of the bacteria.
But what’s the oregano oil effect on gut flora and probiotics? Let’s dig deeper into this in the next section.
Will Oregano Oil Kill Probiotics (Good Bacteria)?
So, does the oil of oregano kill probiotics aka good gut bacteria? Sadly, the answer is yes, it’s possible. Based on the 2011 study above, there’s really no way that oregano oil can tell the difference between pathogenic and good gut bacteria.
Reasons Why Oregano Can Kill Probiotics
Death by oregano oil happens as long as the bacteria have the same structures. According to the 2011 study mentioned above, the oregano oil effect on gut flora can happen in the same way:
- The carvacrol components attack the cell walls
- The damaged probiotic cell walls allow other oregano oil components in, leading to their destruction
Some Good News: Oregano Might Not Kill All Probiotics
It’s possible that some probiotics might survive the effects of oregano oil.
In this recent 2021 study, oregano essential oil supplementation is shown to reduce the colonization of harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter jejuni, but allow or promote the growth of probiotics like Enterococcus, Bifidobacteria, and Bacillus.
The study results lead us to the next question: does that mean you can take them together? Let’s dive deeper into this topic below.
Can You Take Probiotics and Oregano Oil Together?
The answer to this question is actually a bit complicated, especially because of the conflicting study results. It’s possible to take probiotics and oregano oil together, but it’s best to pick probiotic products that have a protective coating so that they’re delivered and released in the intestines where they can be more effective.
By choosing probiotic supplements with a protective coating, you can help them survive better and avoid the potent effects of the oregano oil in their journey. Still, there are other ways to help your probiotics survive, without suffering death from oregano oil.
Let’s take a look at these options below.
How To Take Oregano Without Killing Probiotics
So, there’s really no telling whether the oregano oil might accidentally kill the good bacteria along their journey together.
Some tips to remember to reduce the risks of oregano killing off your probiotics:
Tip #1: Take Them At Different Times (Intervals)
The best thing to do is to keep them as far apart as possible to keep your probiotic bacteria safe.
Remember that the best time to take probiotics is early in the morning or at least 30 minutes before a meal. So, you can take them first.
The transit from your mouth to the intestines can take up to around 6-8 hours. But you don’t have to wait that long to take the oregano oil dose after taking probiotics.
It’s best to wait at least 2-4 hours after taking probiotics before you take the oregano oil.
Tip #2: Use Oregano Oil Sparingly
Oregano oil can be useful against infections, but it’s best to use it sparingly. That means that you shouldn’t take it every day. Instead, you can boost your immune system by taking probiotics daily, and only using oregano when you’re fighting a viral or bacterial infection.
If possible, stick to taking oregano for just around 2-4 days to let your probiotics work better in keeping your gut and immune system healthy.
Is Too Much Oregano Harmful to Probiotics?
Since you want the oregano oil to kill the pathogenic bacteria, you might think that it’s better to take it in large quantities.
Well, that’s not a good idea!
An oregano oil overdose can increase the risks of killing off your probiotics and affecting your normal gut flora.
Unlike herbal concoctions you prepare at home, commercial oregano oil is highly concentrated. So, it’s easy to take too much of the oil, even if you are only taking a small amount.
Taking too much oil can also upset your tummy, causing diarrhea, stomachache, and other issues. It can even be toxic – not just to the probiotics but also to you. WebMD warns oregano oil can even be deadly if taken in large doses.
How Much Oregano Oil Is Too Much? (or they will kill all probiotics)
Research has shown that most people can take as much as 600 mg of pure oregano oil daily without negative effects. However, manufacturers often recommend a smaller dosage
Because there are limited data on the upper limits of oregano oil use, it’s best to stick to this dose (600 mg) or lower. Often, this dose can be spread throughout the day as 200 mg every eight hours (or three times a day) instead of taking the supplement all at once.
Going beyond the studied 600 mg might cause ill effects on the probiotics you’re taking and take a toll on your body.
As a rule of thumb, don’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommended dose (you can find that on the label). If in doubt, consult your doctor.
How Many Times A Day Can You Take Oil Of Oregano? (to keep probiotics alive)
It depends on the dose you’re supposed to take, but it will usually be up to 200 mg per intake, up to three times a day. Try not to exceed this recommended dose.
Remember that there’s a recommended intake window for probiotics (at least 30 minutes before meals), so they can have a higher chance of surviving and reaching your intestines. Plus, it’s recommended that you wait 2-4 hours after probiotic intake before taking oregano oil.
Always keep these recommendations in mind, and adjust the oregano intake accordingly.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, often bacteria, that offer health benefits when consumed. They are found in fermented foods and supplements. Some people take probiotics to maintain gut health or prevent gastrointestinal issues.
Oregano oil is a natural substance that contains chemicals that may have antibacterial and antifungal properties. A recent study investigating the effect of oregano oil on gut flora found that it may reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut. This could have implications for gut health. However, some probiotics may survive the effects of oregano oil.
That said, I’d say more research is needed to understand the potential risks and full benefits of using oregano oil and probiotics. If you’re considering taking oregano oil, speak with your healthcare provider first to weigh the risks and potential benefits.
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