Alternative Medicine

“Cuban Oregano” Essential Oil Kills Staph Superbug

Researchers in Brazil say that essential oil extracted from a plant known as Cuban oregano could be used as an effective tool against so-called “superbugs” like drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

Publishing their research in the open-access journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the scientists say that they tested the extract against 28 strains of S. aureus–12 of which were resistant to both the front-line antibiotic vancomycin and oxacillin, which is fast becoming useless as resistant bacteria continue to emerge. In all concentrations, the extract was effective; at a concentration of 0.5 mg mL−1 the extract appeared to completely annihilate the bacteria.

The researchers behind this study say that Cuban oregano’s carvacrol content is likely responsible for much of the extract’s success. The compound has long been prized for its bacteria-killing power. And it is abundant in other volatile extracts that are traditionally used as germ killers, like thyme, peppermint and bergamot.

Cuban Oregano, Spanish Thyme & Mexican Mint

Plectranthus amboinicus essential oil kills of oxacillin- and vancomycin-resistant Staph.

Photo of plant known as Mexican mint, Spanish thyme and Cuban oregano. Image credit: Malayalam Wikipedia user Sajetpa.

Cuban oregano is only one of the common names for Plectranthus amboinicus. It is also known as Mexican mint and Spanish thyme. In South America, especially, it is widely used as both a culinary herb and as a medicinal plant. It is often used to treat respiratory infections in children and is used to treat coughs, fever and sore throat.

A tea made from the leaves is given to women immediately after childbirth to stimulate milk production.


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