What is Carvacrol? 8 Facts to Know

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on


Carvacrol may not be a widely recognized household name, but its source — oregano, probably is. As it turns out, oregano offers more than a pleasant taste; research has shown that carvacrol, its active ingredient, offers a wide range of health benefits; including protective effects for the liver, antioxidant, activity against harmful organisms, and more. [1] The next 8 facts about carvacrol are sure to make it a known name in your household.

1. Interesting Results Against Cancer Cells

I’m not going to tell you that carvacrol is a cure for cancer but it certainly is demonstrating some interesting activity in preliminary research. When tested against breast cancer cells, it expedited cancer cell death… while being non-toxic. [2] [3] Long Island University researchers reported similar results when putting it up against prostate cancer cells. [4] Actually, carvacrol exhibits the same results regardless of the cancer. [5] Lung cancer cells, oral cancer cells, and malignant brain tumors… all have been on the losing end when pitted against carvacrol. [6] [7] [8] Again, it’s important to remember that these reports are exploratory and solution potency was a factor in each experiment; regardless, the potential is exciting.

2. Cleans as Effectively as Chlorine

Produce is often washed before it’s made available for purchase. That’s great… except for the fact that chemicals like chlorine may be used. One study looked to compare the antimicrobial effect of carvacrol to chlorine as a wash for grape tomatoes. For the experiment, grape tomatoes were contaminated with Salmonella, and then given a chlorine wash or carvacrol. The solution using carvacrol achieved significant reductions in Salmonella. The researchers also noted the natural solution did not affect nutritional value, antioxidant content, look or taste. [9]

3. Great Against Harmful Organisms

Experiments repeatedly confirm the efficacy of carvacrol against Salmonella, e. Coli, Campylobacter jejuni and Listeria. [10] [11] [12] It’s had so much success, researchers decided to pit it against an even more serious problem — antibiotic resistant Salmonella. When tested on Salmonella infected celery, carvacrol eliminated Salmonella colonies immediately. [13] It’s believed this action may offer an alternative to keeping food clear of such harmful organisms.

4. Effective Against Candida

Many people are plagued by yeast infections and often times Candida albicans is to blame. They may occur in the mouth, digestive tract, or really anywhere that’s accommodating to fungus. When researchers tested carvacrol against Candida sampled from denture wearers, the results found carvacrol to be very effective; supporting the traditional use of oregano oil as a natural remedy for Candida. [14]

5. Promotes Normal Lipid Levels

The oxidation of LDL cholesterol leads to accumulation along artery walls. The essential oil of oregano was one of several plant oils, which demonstrated protective effects for LDL against copper-induced oxidation. The most pronounced effect was observed with oregano oil and the activity was attributed to carvacrol.[15]

6. Supports Balanced Blood Sugar

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare in the former Soviet bloc country of Georgia approved an herb-based remedy containing carvacrol and other plant compounds as therapeutic support for blood sugar abnormalities. Although the carvacrol used didn’t originate from oregano, trials of this drug reported that it lowered blood sugar without side effects. [16]

7. Fights Systemic Redness and Swelling

Redness and swelling are present with nearly all forms of injury or irritation. Clinical evidence suggests carvacrol may defend against redness and swelling. Tests have shown that it suppresses COX-2 expression, a primary cause of redness. While many plant-based essential oils have this potential, carvacrol is the best in class; research indicates it offers the greatest effectiveness. [17]

8. Amazing Cleansing Abilities… In the Home!

Carvacrol can offer cleansing action outside your body, too. One study examined its effectiveness as a surface-cleansing agent. Concentrations of oregano oil reportedly eliminated Listeria biofilms from plastic and stainless steel surfaces, confirming it as a cleaning agent even in non-organic environments. [18]

In my opinion, the best source of carvacrol, easily, is oregano and oregano oil. While oregano can add to the taste of a meal, oregano oil provides the most potent form to encourage the greatest health benefits. Do you use oregano oil? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us!


  1. Baser KH. Biological and pharmacological activities of carvacrol and carvacrol bearing essential oils. Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(29):3106-19.
  2. Arunasree KM. Anti-proliferative effects of carvacrol on a human metastatic breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB 231. Phytomedicine. 2010 Jul;17(8-9):581-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.12.008. Epub 2010 Jan 22.
  3. El Babili F, Bouajila J, Souchard JP, Bertrand C, Bellvert F, Fouraste I, Moulis C, Valentin A. Oregano: chemical analysis and evaluation of its antimalarial, antioxidant, and cytotoxic activities. J Food Sci. 2011 Apr;76(3):C512-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02109.x.
  5. Andersen A. Final report on the safety assessment of sodium p-chloro-m-cresol, p-chloro-m-cresol, chlorothymol, mixed cresols, m-cresol, o-cresol, p-cresol, isopropyl cresols, thymol, o-cymen-5-ol, and carvacrol. Int J Toxicol. 2006;25 Suppl 1:29-127.
  6. Ozkan A, Erdogan A. A comparative study of the antioxidant/prooxidant effects of carvacrol and thymol at various concentrations on membrane and DNA of parental and drug resistant H1299 cells. Nat Prod Commun. 2012 Dec;7(12):1557-60.
  7. Liang WZ, Chou CT, Lu T, Chi CC, Tseng LL, Pan CC, Lin KL, Kuo CC, Jan CR. The mechanism of carvacrol-evoked [Ca2+]i rises and non-Ca2+-triggered cell death in OC2 human oral cancer cells. Toxicology. 2013 Jan 7;303:152-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2012.10.026. Epub 2012 Nov 9.
  8. Liang WZ, Lu CH. Carvacrol-induced [Ca2+]i rise and apoptosis in human glioblastoma cells. Life Sci. 2012 May 15;90(17-18):703-11. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2012.03.027. Epub 2012 Mar 27.
  9. Lu Y, Wu C. Reduction of Salmonella enterica contamination on grape tomatoes by washing with thyme oil, thymol, and carvacrol as compared with chlorine treatment. J Food Prot. 2010 Dec;73(12):2270-5.
  10. Obaidat MM, Frank JF. Inactivation of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on sliced and whole tomatoes by allyl isothiocyanate, carvacrol, and cinnamaldehyde in vapor phase. J Food Prot. 2009 Feb;72(2):315-24.
  11. van Alphen LB, Burt SA, Veenendaal AK, Bleumink-Pluym NM, van Putten JP. The natural antimicrobial carvacrol inhibits Campylobacter jejuni motility and infection of epithelial cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45343. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045343. Epub 2012 Sep 25.
  12. Upadhyay A, Johny AK, Amalaradjou MA, Ananda Baskaran S, Kim KS, Venkitanarayanan K. Plant-derived antimicrobials reduce Listeria monocytogenes virulence factors in vitro, and down-regulate expression of virulence genes. Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Jun 15;157(1):88-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.04.018. Epub 2012 May 1.
  13. Ravishankar S, Zhu L, Reyna-Granados J, Law B, Joens L, Friedman M. Carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde inactivate antibiotic-resistant Salmonella enterica in buffer and on celery and oysters. J Food Prot. 2010 Feb;73(2):234-40.
  14. Marcos-Arias C, Eraso E, Madariaga L, Quindós G. In vitro activities of natural products against oral Candida isolates from denture wearers. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Nov 26;11:119. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-119.
  15. Kulisi T, Krisko A, Dragovi-Uzelac V, Milos M, Pifat G. The effects of essential oils and aqueous tea infusions of oregano (Origanum vulgare L. spp. hirtum), thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) and wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum L.) on the copper-induced oxidation of human low-density lipoproteins. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007 Mar;58(2):87-93.
  16. Kemertelidze E, Sagareishvili T, Syrov V, Khushbaktova Z, Tsutskiridze L, Kurashvili R. [Saturin – effective vegetative remedy in treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus]. Georgian Med News. 2012 Feb;(203):47-52.
  17. Hotta M, Nakata R, Katsukawa M, Hori K, Takahashi S, Inoue H. Carvacrol, a component of thyme oil, activates PPARalpha and gamma and suppresses COX-2 expression. J Lipid Res. 2010 Jan;51(1):132-9. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M900255-JLR200.
  18. Desai MA, Soni KA, Nannapaneni R, Schilling MW, Silva JL. Reduction of Listeria monocytogenes biofilms on stainless steel and polystyrene surfaces by essential oils. J Food Prot. 2012 Jul;75(7):1332-7. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-517.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Cindy Piazza-Ivy

    Yes, I use oregano oil supplements–just started using them last year. I have managed to stay healthy so far through this sick season, while everyone around me has been getting sick. I think there may be a real connection to the potential in this healing properties of this herb!

  • Kacie Ford

    I recently started using oil of oregano and love it!! There are so many different benefits that it was a no brainer to start taking it. I hope to see positive results soon 🙂

  • Tång Ruska

    Whatever you do, ALWAYS dilute oregano oil and other hot essential oils before use, even if you use it in capsules. Treat hot essential oils with respect!

  • Great reminder!

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  • dr.brdar

    Congratulations for Web site!/ My med. 35 J. expiriens with Wild oregano is positiv!Dr.med.S. brdar/Livno/BH

  • Ursula Y Lawson

    This stuff works! Love it

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  • Shar

    I discovered Oregano Oil about 15 years ago, and always have a bottle with me. It is an exceptionally good anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. I use it as a disinfectant for any cuts or abrasions, and for any stomach upset. Oregano Oil comes in all sizes and strengths. You certainly do not need to “always” dilute it as Tang Ruska wrote below. It depends on how concentrated the oil is. If I diluted the two brands I normally buy, it would render them completely ineffective! I did, however, need to dilute a brand bought in Australia as it literally burned the skin leaving a mark.

  • Matt k

    Certain essential oils do not need to be diluted. Standardized oregano at 70% carvacrol is one of them, which can be both ingested and applied topically undiluted, and may be applied topically very liberally. Tea tree oil, lavender, frankincense, and myrrh are similar, however I personally have only ingested lavender & oregano essential oil. The exception is when wild oregano is used in 85%+ carvacrol concentrations.

  • Matt k

    Yes, it depends on the carvacrol concentration. At 70% it can be both ingested and applied liberally topically. At 85%+ carvacrol you need to be more careful because of the chemical burns. It is a turpine after all!
    I had a common wart on my hand once, put thymol on it straight then covered it with a bandage. The next morning the skin had broken down and the burn took awhile to heal. The wart was very dead though!

  • mizzitant

    I took oregano oil against candida infestation and found out that it was effective against chronic headache.

  • Donalee

    When making your own oregano oil, 1/2 cup of any organic oil and same measurement of oregano leaves, in a sanitary jar left in sunny location for 2 weeks, how will I know the strength of it? My guess is only by testing it, starting with a few drops in glass of water. Your opinion is welcomed. Great site you have. Thank for all the info

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