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Oil from the common herb oregano may be an effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug-resistant bacteria.

Two types of experiments, one in test tubes and one on mice, have shown that oregano oil and a major component, carvacrol, appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics.

Dr. Harry G. Preuss and his research team, collaborating with Dr. Cass Ingram, of North American Herb and Spice, conducted research testing oregano oil on staphylococcus bacteria which is responsible for a variety of severe infections and is becoming increasingly resistant to many antibiotics. They compared the antibacterial effects of the oil on staphylococcus in a test tube with the standard antibiotics streptomycin, penicillin and vancomycin. The oregano oil, at relatively low doses, was found to inhibit the growth of staphylococcus in the test tubes as much as the standard antibiotics did.

The efficacy of oregano oil and one of its major components, a compound called carvarol, in 18 live mice infected with the staph bacteria showed that oregano oil was as effective as vancomycin and more effective than its constituent carvacrol in treating the staph infections. Evidently, oregano oil has more than one anti-bacterial component.

While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of living mice, the preliminary results definitely warrant further study, Preuss said. The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidals under a variety of conditions.

This study was sponsored by Waukegan, Illinois - based North American Herb and Spice. The results were presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition held in Orlando, Florida.

This article was prepared by Drug Week editors from staff and other reports.

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