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March 12, 2013 by MARCO TORRES
Oregano Oil Is A Health Hazard Says Health Canada

Health Canada, the same agency who raids Naturopathic Doctors and insists natural supplements are drugs, is once again declaring war on the natural health products (NHP) industry by stating that carvacrol, an ingredient at relatively high levels in oregano oil, is toxic to humans. Despite its presence in thyme and pepperwort oils, marjoram, tequila, or its use in the Mediterranean for thousands of years, Health Canada has deemed oregano oil to be a potential public health threat and is considering banning the oil unless human clinical trials can establish its safety.
The name oregano is derived from a Grecian word meaning "joy of the mountains". Ancient Grecian physicians prescribed oregano for conditions such as trauma, wounds, headaches, lung disorders, asthma, seizures, venomous bits, even narotic poisoning. During the middle ages, Islamics used oregano oil as a germ killer. They also used oregano as a food preserver to prevent microbial growth. Oregano was also regarded as the ideal remedy for head cold in 17th century Britain.

How effective is Carvacol?

Turkey is the biggest exporter of oregano herb and oil to the world markets. Today, oregano is mainly used in food, spice and pharmaceutical industries. Carvacrol is responsible for the biological activities of oregano. Many diverse activities of carvacrol such as antimicrobial, antitumor, antimutagenic, antigenotoxic, analgesic, antispasmodic, antiinflammatory, angiogenic, antiparasitic, antiplatelet, AChe inhibitory, antielastase, insecticidal, antihepatotoxic and hepatoprotective activities and uses such as feed additive, in honeybee breeding and in gastrointestinal ailments have been shown. A study from Anadolu University highlights these activities and attempts to explain the possible in vivo mechanism of action of carvacrol.

Carvacrol inhibits the growth of several bacteria strains such as E.coli and Bacillus cereus. Its low toxicity together with its pleasant taste and smell suggests its use as a food additive to prevent bacterial contamination. In some bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa which is known to cause disease, inflammation and sepsis, it causes damages to the cell membrane of these bacteria and, unlike other terpenes, inhibits the proliferation of this germ. The cause of the antimicrobial properties is believed to be disruption of the bacteria membrane.

Carvacrol is quickly metabolized and excreted. After 24 hours only very small amounts of carvacrol or its metabolites can be found in urine, indicating an almost complete excretion within one day.

A study led by Supriya Bavadekar reports that carvacrol kills in prostate cancer cells.

The Problem

According to the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association), "Health Canada's concern with certain oil of oregano preparations stem for the level of the substance carvacrol (note: carvacrol is an alcohol that is naturally present in oil of oregano).

The main problem that exists with oregano oil is its quality and manufacture. The problem with Health Canada is they will lump the minority of inferior brands along with the majority of superior brands essentially putting the entire supplement, regardless of its source, on the threat list.

Depending on the quality of the Oregano, part of the plant distilled, expertise of the distiller and yearly variations in growing conditions, Carvacrol can be found ranging from approximately 30-87% in traditionally (naturally) distilled oils. Commercially available Oregano oils range from 40-75%. The vast majority of Oregano oil is between 60-70%. Lab testing done on the efficacy of pure Carvacrol for destroying pathogens has shown it to be far less effective as pure, unadulterated Oregano oil . The key to Oregano oil's amazing power is the synergistic combination of naturally occurring chemicals in the ratio in which nature produced them. Once again, nature prevails. The real curative powers of nature lie in the naturally distilled oil. Lab testing on Oregano's antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral, anti-cancer etc. properties has been conducted with naturally distilled, best quality Oregano oil.

In an attempt to gain sales, some companies have begun to hint through marketing and literature that their Oil of Oregano has absurdly high Carvacrol content (60%, 70%, and even 85%). This is ridiculous. When you consider that the final product has to be well diluted with olive oil to make a safe and therapeutically effective product, and the majority of Oregano oil is between 60-70% how can a blended product have a higher carvacrol content than the pure oil? It can't! 70% Carvacrol oil is so potent that it burns when it comes in contact with your finger, imaging how it would burn more sensitive body parts.

The grade is dependent upon seven factors:

  • is it a wild spice versus farm raised?
  • is it a proven edible species of oregano; that is, the type used as a warm spice?
  • is it a high carvacrol versus low carvacrol species?
  • is it the type used in modern research at world renowned institutions like Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.?
  • is it extracted in a natural process, i.e. steam distillation?
  • is it free of all chemical/pesticide residues?
  • is it relatively low in thymol, i.e. less than 5%?

Low carvacrol species (with carvacrol less than 40%) are not true oreganos. They are marjorams and are usually farm raised. They do not meet the above criteria. In particular, 20% carvacrol oil of oreganos have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny, as have the high carvacrol species.

Synthetic carvacrol in Lysol, Pinesol and Listerine possesses the same germ-killing properties that oregano oil does. However, without the support of the “complex phytochemical matrix” found in oregano oil such as North American Herb & Spice's Oreganol P73, the synthetic carvacrol has toxic and even deadly effects when ingested.

These are all reasons to know your source and research your oregano oil before purchasing, however it is not a reason to ban the sale of all oregano oil due to a few bad apples.

When They Try To Ban Something, It Means It Works Well

Oregano oil is acclaimed for its ability to reduce upper respiratory tract an many other infections.

In one study that demonstrated the antifungal activities and how oregano oil kills yeast (Candida albicans), they showed that when mice were infected with 5 times the lethal dose of the infectious Candida yeast, 80% of them survived.

In another study authors experimented in the lab with several essential oils, to see how effective they were against a wide variety of bacteria, molds, and yeasts, and found that “of the tested compounds, cinnamaldehyde, thymol, and carvacrol showed the strongest antimicrobial effectiveness”.

A study from the Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, investigated the effect of a nasal spray consisting of several essential oils including oregano oil in 60 humans with upper respiratory tract infections (the sore throat and congested lung infections that often accompany a cold). This study is of the highest calibre, as it is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The statistical analysis showed that 20 minutes following the treatment, the patients who had received the treatment reported a greater improvement in symptom severity compared to participants in the placebo group. They describe their nasal spray as providing a “significant and immediate improvement in symptoms of upper respiratory ailment”.

Apparently the positive claims for respiratory ailments can't be made in Canada if it interferes with the promotion of vaccines.

Last fall, one of Canada's largest health authorities, Fraser Health, ordered Enerex Botanicals Ltd. to publish a retraction after the company ran an ad in the Vancouver Sun newspaper earlier this week promoting its oil of oregano product as "the natural way to help combat whooping cough."

Paul Van Buynder of the Fraser Health Authority said Enerex's claim that oregano oil can replace the whooping cough vaccine poses a health hazard if it encourages members of the public to skip the vaccine.

What a shame that would be if a natural product was found that would replace the useless whooping cough vaccine (sarcasm alert). I've already reported how whooping cough, or pertussis, is spreading across the entire US at rates at least twice as high as those recorded in 2011 and epidemiologists and health officials are even admitting that the vaccines may be the cause.

The dangerous new strains of whooping cough bacteria were reported in March 2012. The vaccine, researchers said, was responsible. The reason for this is because, while whooping cough is primarily attributed to Bordetella pertussis infection, it is also caused by another closely related pathogen called B. parapertussis, which the vaccine does NOT protect against. Two years earlier, scientists at Penn State had already reported that the pertussis vaccine significantly enhanced the colonization of B. parapertussis, thereby promoting vaccine-resistant whooping cough outbreaks.

Anything is better than protecting you or your children against whooping cough than the whooping cough vaccine. Nevertheless, heath authorities forced a retraction for the advertisement that claimed oil of oregano can protect against whooping cough.

In 2011, Health Canada began issuing Section 16 notices for Oil of Oregano products currently for sale in Canada. Health Canada’s concern refers to levels of carvacrol, an alcohol that is naturally present in oil of oregano. Given that levels of carvacrol can vary substantially within and between species of Origanum and few human clinical trials have investigated the safety of carvacrol within humans, Health Canada has indicated that oil of oregano products that provide more than 0.22 micrograms carvacrol /kg body weight per day cannot be considered non-medicinal ingredients and will remain adulterated unless the appropriate safety data can be provided. Health Canada’s 0.22 microgram cut-off is derived from The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) where the Maximum Survey-Derived Dietary Intake (MSDRI) of carvacrol for the European Union was determined to be 0.23 ug/kg bw/day for a 70 kg human.

Most oil of oregano products sold contain carvacrol at 60-80 % oregano oil. Assuming oil of oregano products contain 1:3 oregano oil to olive oil (as a diluent), each drop (~26 mg) of product would provide ~ 6.5 mg oil of oregano and 3.9-5.2 mg carvacrol. However, without re-formulation, current oil of oregano products would need to adjust dosages to provide 19.5-25.6 micrograms/day to comply with Health Canada's current regulations.

Bottom Line: The Government Does Not Want Us Healthy

What is most ironic about Health Canada is that they are attempting to put Natural Health Products through this extensive process to protect Canadians from any harmful substances, yet they don't consider harmful ingredients and additives in foods or vaccines harmful.

Did you know that it is nearly impossible to have toxic preservatives, food dyes, and chemicals added to our foods, removed? You actually have to have enough money to go up against these chemical companies in court and prove that their product is harmful to your health. Somehow when we're dealing with big business the tables are turned. Health Canada doesn't make them go through the rigorous process of giving scientific proof that their products are safe, instead the onus is on the backs of Canadians to prove otherwise.

For the past several years, Health Canada has been quietly removing thousands of entirely safe dietary supplements from the market. These product restrictions are now becoming more aggressive. Health food stores are not able to stock their shelves with as many specialty formulations nor as many brand names as they used to.

This is not a phenomenal revelation to those who know Health Canada's game which has been profoundly guided by pharmaceutical interests since its inception. This is the same regulatory agency that still issues advisory warnings for Canadians with weakened immune systems to consume pasteurized foods including hot dogs and deli meats.

Health Canada’s destruction of the health food industry relies on the propagation of two falsehoods: (1) that dietary supplements are potentially unsafe, and (2) that Health Canada has the legal right to regulate health products. Health Canada first creates a false fear, then imposes itself as the remedy for that imagined fear.

Health Canada systematically targets natural health products for elimination even if they are innocuous substances, many which have been safely used for centuries, and some probably for millennia. Garlic, echinacea, cayenne, ginkgo, milk thistle, hawthorn, cascara sagrada, eyebright, mullein, tumeric and horehound are but a few examples. The complete list is virtually endless, because Health Canada intends to eliminate every product for which suppliers make "unapproved" health claims -- including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein powders, glandular concentrates, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. Every dietary supplement is a candidate for elimination, depending on who is selling it and how successful that company is at jumping over Health Canada's hurdles.

Health Canada will soon be subject to prosecution for violating constitutional law and the fundamental rights of Canadians.


Marco Torres
is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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