What is Carvacrol?
Today, more and more people are using oil of oregano because of its efficacy in healing a wide
variety of diseases. But not too many know what makes it medicinally effective.This essential oil has several
anti-microbial components that can kill many types of pathogens. The most potent of these elements is
carvacrol. Oregano oil is largely effective medicinally because of the presence of the correct amount
of this active ingredient.
Carvacrol can also be found in thyme, pepperwort, wild bergamot and marjoram. It is colorless, has a spicy taste
and a distinct warm odor. One of its sources, pure oregano oil, which is derived from the wild plant, Origanum
vulgare, contains 60% to 80% of this chemical substance. It is very soluble in ethanol and ether but not as soluble
in water. This substance exhibits excellent anti-microbial properties and it is this quality that makes it useful
in the production of cosmetics, food preservatives and for treating diseases.
Why Carvacrol Is So
Its anti-microbial properties enable it to inhibit the growth of harmful microbes.
As such, it is an effective medicinal substance for the following reasons:
1) It can prevent the growth of bacteria such as E. coli and Bacillus cereus. For instance, this
substance destroys the cell membrane of Pseudomonas aeruginosa preventing them from multiplying. But it has low
toxicity to humans making it very suitable as a food preservative as well as a food additive.
2) It inhibits COX-2 inflammation and activates PPAR. The enzyme COX-2 causes pain and inflammation while
PPARs are a group of nuclear receptor proteins which work as transcription factors regulating gene expression.
These substances are important in the development and differentiation of cells and also in the metabolism of
carbohydrates, proteins and lipids.
3) It is very effective in controlling and managing pain and inflammation. Carvacrol activates V3 (TRPV3),
our human channels receptor potential and A1 (TRPA1), the genes that helps in the efficient functioning of our
pain sensing neurons.
Uses of Carvacrol
A) Common Uses – carvacrol’s main use is in the field of alternative medicine. due to its anti-fungal,
anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. As such, it can be effectively used in treating diseases like:
• Common cold
• Flu and fever
• Common infection like pneumonia and neonatal meningitis
• Nail fungus
• Bacteremia or presence of bacteria in the blood
• Urinary tract infection
• Cholangitis or inflammation of the bile duct
• Arthritis pain and inflammation
• Inflammation of the gall bladder (cholecyctitis)
B) The anti-microbial properties of carvacrol are also heavily used in the production of different
• It is used in the manufacture of disinfectants. Products made of synthetic disinfectants often cause
adverse effects on people as well as the environment. Since carvacrol is an organic substance, it is not
harmful to humans and their surroundings. In fact, using only about 0.07 percent of this substance will act as
an effective disinfectant.
• It is also used in the food industry as a food preservative. Its potent germ killing properties and its
sweet aroma and subtle taste makes it ideal for such purpose. It can be used in vapor form to kill bacteria
like E. coli and Salmonella and extend the shelf lives of processed food.
• It is used in the production of soaps, facial creams, perfumes and fragrances. Because of its organic
nature, it is not irritating to the skin. It can be used up to a maximum concentration of 0.5% in cosmetics and
other personal care products.
• It is also used for aromatherapy because of its analgesic and anti-microbial properties.
Sources of Carvacrol
A) Natural Sources – the most potent types of carvacrol are those
found in their organic sources such as:
• Origanum vulgare
• Origanum dictamus
• Origanum compactum
• Origanum glandulosus
• Origanum microphyllum
• Origanum scabrum
• Origanum onites
The most common organic source is the wild oregano plant, Origanum vulgare, which has the highest content -
about 80% of its composition. By using 50% potash solution, it can also be extracted from oregano oil.
B) Synthetic Sources - because of the high demand nowadays, manufacturers have found way to produce this
• By heating one part of iodine with five parts of camphor
• By heating carvol (aromatic oil similar to cavacrol) with glacial phosphoric acid
• By fusing caustic potash with cymol sulfonic acid
• By the dehydrating carvone (a naturally occurring terpinoid chemical usually present in essential oils)
with a Pd/C catalyst
• By the action of nitrous acid on 1-methyl-2-amino-4-propyl benzene
Effect of Oregano Oil on Carvacrol
The quality of oregano oil has a direct impact on the
anti microbial quality of carvacrol. A lot depends on the part of the wild plant that is used, the variations in
its growing conditions and the quality of distillation that was used. With these varying factors, the presence of
carvacrol in the oil can range from 30% to 87%. The best oil of oregano found in laboratory tests are the naturally
distilled oils that have an average presence of 62% to 85% of carvacrol.
When buying oil of oregano in bottles, it is always good to ask for its GC rating. In this regard, if the GC
percentage indicated on the bottle is in round numbers such as 65%, 75% or 85%, chances are that it is a
counterfeit GC rating or it may be an adulterated product. GC stands for Gas Chromatography testing and it is what
you need to watch out for. GC testing is always done in hundredths such as 72. 18%, 67.54%, etc.
Carvacrol is Safe to Use
Since it is derived from an organic source, carvacrol is perfectly safe to use. Long term risks should be of no
concern. It has been proven by hundreds of laboratory tests and experiments that it is indeed very effective in
killing harmful microbes, be they viruses, parasites, bacteria or fungi. Its greatest advantage is that it
kills bacteria and other pathogens, but does not leave any harmful side effects. Since it is basically only a
component of certain essential oils, there is very little possibility of taking it in concentrated form.