The Oregano Oil Herpes Treatment: What it Is and Why it May Work

woman with herpes sore on upper lip

Oil of Oregano may be a natural treatment for herpes


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 it contains two powerful active compounds called carvacrol and thymol.

These ingredients were shown to be effective against certain types of bacteria, virus and fungi. 

And latest research now shows they may be even more effective than some anti-viral drugs used to treat herpes.


hypodermic needle with herpes medication

Some herpes medications may not kill the herpes virus


Researcher Claims Some Drugs Can’t Stop HSV from Spreading


Many of the medications used for herpes work by preventing the virus from replicating and causing further outbreaks.

However, a possible problem is that some of these drugs don’t actually kill the 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….”

This means that some people with herpes could still be at risk for infecting their sex partners – even if they’re regularly taking drugs to prevent an outbreak.

And according to, some anti-viral medications (such as Acyclovir) can cause side effects, such as diarrhea, dizziness and even hair loss.


Scientists Discover Oregano Oil Kills Herpes Virus


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.

Virus can be difficult to kill because they’re surrounded by a thick cell membrane that protects their RNA. Scientists discovered that an ingredient in oregano oil can destroy this cell wall and kill the RNA virus, thereby completely killing the virus.


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 virus from spreading.


4. One problem with using anti-virals is it can lead to the growth of drug-resistant herpes.  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 Oil of Oregano for Herpes Infections

  • has been shown to actually kill the virus
  • shown to be effective against a drug-resistant form of HSV

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

  • costs less than some prescription medications

  • can help fight inflammation due to its anti-oxidant properties

  • may have less side effects than some 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 to use for treating 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 as capsules or liquid drops that you can apply it your 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 directly to herpes sores

  • 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 a diluted oil on the lower back, thighs or behind the knees


Taking Oregano Oil Internally:

  • you can take oil of oregano liquids or capsules by mouth

  • 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 so you could place a few drops of oil in juices or water to drink

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

How effective is this treatment? While your results may vary, there are reports of some people experiencing less breakouts. 


What are Side Effects from Using Oil of Oregano?

  • possible burning/warm sensation in the mouth or lips when swallowing the oil

  • there’s a risk for experiencing an upset stomach/nausea when ingesting oregano oil

  • you could experience irritation when you apply the oil directly on herpes lesions near your mouth

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



How to Choose the Best Oregano Oil


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 Consumer’s Guide to Buying Oil of Oregano, we recommend you look at 4 important factors:

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

  • try to use 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 from plants grown in the Mediterranean

3. How Pure are the Oils?

  • try to use 100% natural, organic products to reduce your risk of exposure to unwanted pesticides or chemicals

  • use products made 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 Certificate of Analysis

4. Choose Between Capsules/Soft Gels or Bottled Liquids

  • the liquid oil can be applied to your skin or swallowed

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

  • an advantage of using capsules is that you don’t have to taste the oil

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.