A natural oil found in oregano could help fight deadly hospital superbug MRSA, early research has indicated.
Scientists have discovered that the herb, commonly used in cooking, could eradicate the deadly infection from hospital wards. A team at the University of the West of England in Bristol, working with partners in India, found that tiny quantities of carvacrol, a naturally occurring compound in oregano, is a more effective antimicrobial agent than 18 pharmaceutical drugs it was compared against. The discovery could lead to a new defence in the fight against hospital infection.
Carvacrol has been found to contain potent anti-fungal and antibacterial properties with a range of medicinal uses. It can sterilise septic water, kill giardia, treat fungal infections such as candida and rivals pharmaceutical antibiotics such as streptomycin and penicillin in its ability to eliminate microbes.
Research into the medicinal properties of oregano has been led by Biolaya Organics, a company that specialises in the conservation and sustainable production of Himalayan medicinal herbs. Set up by British environmentalist Ben Heron in 2007, the award-winning company works with villagers to encourage sustainable methods of farming in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Oregano grows in abundance in the region's high alpine valleys.
Biolaya is now working to publish its research in a scientific journal and find partners to develop oregano oil-based soaps and sprays.