Guide to Using Oregano Oil for Herpes

woman with herpes sore on upper lip


Can you really use oregano oil to treat herpes infections and outbreaks?

In our article, A Closer Look at Oil of Oregano Ingredients, we learned that it contains two powerful anti-microbials called carvacrol and thymol.

These ingredients were found to be effective against fungi and even bacteria such as Staphylococcus infections, as well as E.Coli and Pseudomonas.

Current research now shows that oil of oregano may kill viruses and could be more effective than some anti-viral medications for killing the herpes virus and reducing symptoms in some viral infections.


hypodermic needle with herpes medications on piece of paper with herpes written on it


Herpes Medications May Not Actually Kill the Virus


Many of the anti-viral medications used for treating HSV1 and HSV2 herpes infections work by preventing the virus from replicating and causing further outbreaks.

However, a possible problem with this method is that some of these drugs don’t actually kill the latent virus.

Dr. Christine Johnston, a researcher at University of Washington claims that herpes drugs don’t stop the herpes virus from spreading:

“Short episodes of genital (herpes virus) shedding occur frequently with anti-viral therapy, even for high-dose regimens….”

So people with genital herpes are at risk for infecting their sex partners – even if they’re regularly taking anti-HSV drugs to prevent an outbreak.

Another issue is some people may also experience unwanted side effects, such as diarrhea, dizziness and even hair loss.


How does Oregano Oil Kill the Herpes Virus?


Studies indicate that oil of oregano has virucidal properties and can kill certain viruses:

1. Researchers at the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences at University of Arizona published a study showing oil of oregano kills the norovirus within 1 hour of exposure.

They found cavacrol destroys the virus capsid (the virus’ cell membrane) and then kills the virus by breaking down its RNA.


2. A study published in the 2017 Aug issue of Cellular and Molecular Biology Journal concluded that thymol (an ingredient found in oregano oil) is effective against the herpes virus when topically used on the skin.


3. Scientists at Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan also reported that carvacrol and thymol have anti-viral activity against Herpes Simplex Type-1 and it could be applied to the skin to prevent the HSV virus from spreading.


4. A possible problem with long-term use of anti-virals is it can lead to the growth of drug-resistant herpes virus.  A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology concluded that Mexican oregano oil is effective against acyclovir-resistant Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1.


Benefits of Using Oregano Oil for Herpes Infections

  • has been shown to actually kill the herpes virus
  • can help treat drug-resistant herpes

  • may help lessen the severity and frequency of herpes breakouts
  • can be taken by mouth or applied topically to herpes skin lesions

  • costs less than some expensive anti-viral prescription drugs

  • can help fight inflammation due to it’s anti-oxidant properties

  • may offer less side effects than prescription anti-viral drugs


amber glass bottle filled with oil of oregano and oregano herbs


How to Use Oil of Oregano for Herpes


You may be wondering how to take oregano oil and how much oil of oregano to use for a viral infection, such as herpes.

While it’s beyond the scope of this article to suggest actual dosage amounts, some manufacturers and companies may provide Suggested Oil of Oregano Dosages on their ingredient labels.

You can take oil of oregano internally as capsules or liquid drops, or you can apply it topically to the skin.

Applying Oil of Oregano to Your Skin:

  • you should do a small skin patch test first to test for possible reactions

  • oil of oregano can be applied topically to herpes lesions

  • you can dilute the oil with a carrier oil, such as tea tree oil, virgin coconut oil or vitamin E oil

  • try using once a day before increasing the frequency

  • you can also massage diluted oil on the lower back, thighs or behind the knees


Taking Oregano Oil Internally:

  • you can take oil of oregano liquids or capsules orally

  • oils can be taken sublingually by placing 2 – 4 drops directly under tongue

  • liquid oils may leave a burning sensation on your lips and mouth

  • you can also place a few drops of oil in juices or water to drink

  • oregano oil capsules/soft gels can also be used

  • it’s suggested you follow the manufacturers’ suggested dosage instructions on the bottle labels

Will using oil of oregano on herpes cold sores really work? There are anecdotal reports of some people claiming to experience a slight reduction in symptoms and frequency of breakouts.  However, there are no published medical studies on human subjects using oregano oil on herpes.



What are Side Effects from Using Oregano Oil for Herpes?

  • you could experience a burning/hot sensation in mouth or lips when swallowing oregano oil

  • a possible risk for nausea/stomach upset when ingesting the oil

  • you may experience skin irritation on your lips or mouth if you apply the oil directly on herpes lesions near the mouth

  • it’s strongly recommended you avoid using Oil of Oregano if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or allergic to the Lamiaceae plant family (basil,mint, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, lavender)



How to Choose the Best Oregano Oil for Herpes


The natural supplement industry isn’t completed regulated, so you want to look for a product that’s highly-purified and free of any contaminants.

In our Buying Guide to Oil of Oregano, it’s suggested you look at 4 important factors:

1. What’s the actual amount of active ingredients (Carvacrol and Thymol)?

  • look for products with high amounts of carvacrol

  • carvacrol concentrations can range from as low as 50 to over 80%, depending on the brand

  • thymol concentrations in oregano oil are naturally lower than carvacrol

  • check ingredient labels, as not all manufacturers will provide this information

2. What’s the plant source?

  • oregano plants are native to the Mediterranean, but sub-species are also found in Asia, India and Mexico

  • the best oils are made in the Mediterranean

3. How Pure are the Oils?

  • using 100% natural, organic products will ensure the oils were extracted from plants not exposed to pesticides or chemicals

  • products manufactured by companies that follow Good Manufacturing Practises (GMP-certified) or provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

  • Zane Hellas Wild Pure Greek Essential Oil of Oregano claims to contain a minimum 86% carvacrol concentration and comes with a COA

4. Capsules/Soft Gels or Liquids

  • the liquid oil can be applied topically to the skin or ingested

  • both capsules and liquids oils may come mixed with a ‘carrier oil’ such as olive oil or other plant/seed oils

  • capsules allow you to take the oil internally without tasting the oil

  • encapsulation is also available in a variety of dosage sizes

Treating herpes infections and outbreaks can be challenging.

But with proper medical care and following your health care provider’s treatments, you may be able to control or reduce your symptoms.

It’s strongly recommended you do not discontinue your current medications and consult with your Physician before trying any natural health treatment plans.


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Author Details
Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.