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Can Oregano Cause Heart Palpitations?

author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Can Oregano Cause Heart Palpitations?
Oregano acts as a mild stimulant. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Oregano is a member of the mint family and indigenous to temperate regions of Asia and the Mediterranean. It's a perennial herb that produces small purple flowers, although its leaves are the parts used for cooking and medicinally. Oregano leaves contain various compounds that display antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, which is why they have been used for centuries to treat infections and cardiovascular problems. Oregano is sometimes recommended to treat vascular problems, although increased blood pressure and heart rate may be an initial side effect. Talk with your doctor before supplementing with oregano products.


The use of oregano, or Oreganum vulgare, dates back to at least ancient Greece where Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is said to have used its leaves for antiseptic purposes and to treat stomachaches, respiratory problems and sore throats, according to the "PDR for Herbal Supplements." You can eat oregano raw, dried or as pressed oil, which is more potent and sometimes used to treat minor topical infections and abrasions.

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Oregano leaves and oil contain many flavonoids and phenolic acids that display strong antioxidant and antimicrobial behavior, especially against bacteria and fungi, according to Michael Castleman's "The New Healing Herbs." Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals, which cause damage and deterioration to your blood vessels and other tissues. Specifically, oregano contains carvacrol, thymol, limonene and caryophyllene, among other compounds. Oregano leaves and flowering stems also have antispasmodic and expectorant properties and can act as mild stimulants. However, the medical community does not consider oregano a cure or treatment for any disease or condition.

Heart Palpitations

A palpitation is an abnormal heartbeat of which you are aware. Heart palpitations can be too slow, too fast or irregular compared to normal heartbeats and rhythms. According to the Mayo Clinic website, palpitations can be temporary or chronic and have numerous causes such as overexertion; stress and anxiety; excessive pain; lack of oxygen; consumption of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine; drug use; heart disease; clogged blood vessels; and thyroid dysfunction. Heart palpitations often occur with other symptoms including sweating, dizziness, headaches and chest pain.

Oregano and Palpitations

Oregano has a very safe track record dating back several centuries, but in very large doses it can cause noticeable changes in your cardiovascular system, according to the "Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine." Oregano is a mild stimulant, so it has the potential to temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure in some users, depending on dosage, weight and health status. Oregano is not nearly as strong as caffeine, so even large doses of oregano oil probably wouldn't have the effects of a cup of coffee, but some users may be more sensitive to the herb than others. Further, if you have clogged arteries or chronic infections, then large doses of oregano oil over many days or weeks may cause changes that increase blood flow and the strength of your heartbeat temporarily, which may be perceived as palpitations. Consult with your doctor about the complications of palpitations and whether oregano products are appropriate to consume.

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  • "PDR for Herbal Supplements: 2nd Edition"; PDR Medical Staff; 2008
  • "The New Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 2010
  • MayoClinic.com: Heart Palpitations
  • "Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine: 2nd Edition"; Brent Bauer M.D.; 2010
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