Himalayan Oregano Oil Effective in Killing Hospital Superbug MRSA
Numerous studies have shown that Mediterranean oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial, probably due to its ingredients thymol and carvacrol.
A research team from the University of the West of England (UWE), working in partnership with a laboratory in Delhi, is investigating Himalayan oregano oil as an antibacterial agent for MRSA.
MRSA is an antibiotic resistant strain of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, and MRSA infections occur mostly in hospitals.
Recent research by UWE and SGS in Delhi has shown that the antibacterial properties of the Himalayan oregano oil are very effective at killing the hospital superbug MRSA.
UWE’s project leader Professor Vyv Salisbury said, “We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the oregano oil from the Himalayan oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000 and further tests in the SGS laboratory found that the Himalayan oregano oil killed MRSA more effectively than all 18 antibiotics that it was compared against.
The tests show that oregano oil kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapor and heating in boiling water does not diminish its antimicrobial activity. This is exciting as it also means that we could consider using oregano oil to develop disinfectant washing powders. We now aim to conduct a focused academic study in partnership with SGS labs in Delhi that we hope will give the project the academic credence needed to market oregano oil.
These findings have presented a valuable opportunity to develop a range of antibacterial products that would provide a sustainable source of income to rural communities in the Himalayas, and at the same time introduce an environmentally friendly means of helping to prevent the spread of MRSA in hospitals.
The project is part of an initiative to provide rural communities with sources of income generated from sustainable collection of non-timber forest products in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Origanum vulgare is a relatively common herb that grows in high altitude meadows throughout the Himalayan region, yet it is perceived by many villagers to have no culinary, medicinal or economic value. In Kullu oregano is often referred to as ‘bekaar gahaas’, or ‘useless grass’; even cows and goats don’t eat it.
One of the lead partners of the project in India, Biolaya Organics, is a company that is developing projects aimed at conserving endangered medicinal herbs, both by cultivating threatened species, and by providing alternative sources of income to herb collectors through sustainable collection and value addition of more common species such as oregano.
Ben Heron from Biolaya Organics explains, “We started working with oregano because it is a species that, if managed properly, can be collected year after year without depleting the population in the wild. Our aim is to be able to pay the local herb collectors the equivalent amount that they would normally earn from collecting endangered medicinal herb species so that they become less dependent on the extraction of these plants for their livelihoods.