Is Oregano Safe in Pregnancy? Oil, Food + More

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Oregano is a common ingredient in many cuisines, particularly Italian food. But is it safe to consume during pregnancy?

Oregano is generally safe to consume during pregnancy, but moderation is key. Culinary amounts of oregano are safe, but excessive consumption can stimulate contractions.

This article will explore the risks of too much oregano and provide tips on how to use the herb safely.

Is Oregano a Safe Herb to Eat When Pregnant?

Oregano is used both as a seasoning and garnish. There are two types of oregano: fresh and dried. Fresh oregano is often used as a garnish, while the dried herb is commonly used for flavoring.

Brazilian pizza with dried tomatoes and oregano

For culinary purposes, a little bit of oregano goes a long way. Used in these small amounts, oregano is considered safe to eat when pregnant.

The key is not to overdo it. Consuming large quantities of oregano can lead to uterine contractions and miscarriage. 

Oregano contains a compound called thymol (source: Elsevier Journal). Thymol is a naturally-occuring substance found in aromatic plants like oregano, thyme, and basil.

Unfortunately, thymol can act as a mild uterine stimulant and may result in miscarriage (source: Naturally Occurring Chemicals Against Alzheimer’s Disease, 2021).

Furthermore, too much oregano can lead to gastrointestinal problems like heartburn and indigestion (source: WebMD), so be sure to minimize your intake if you are prone to these issues.

Is Oregano Pregnancy-Safe as a Seasoning on Pizza and Pasta?

During pregnancy, you can safely use oregano to season your favorite foods like pizza and pasta. Since you only need a small amount of the dried herb to flavor your dish, there is no risk of consuming too much thymol.

Keep in mind oregano is often used in conjunction with other spices (for example, in Italian spice blends), so be sure any other herbs in the blend are also pregnancy-safe.

Is Oregano Oil Safe During Pregnancy? 

Oregano oil is made from the oregano plant. The oil of oregano has a potent, herbaceous scent and is used for its therapeutic properties.

Oregano oil should be avoided altogether during pregnancy. The oil of oregano is very concentrated and can contain large amounts of thymol. When ingested, it can cause uterine contractions or miscarriage (source: WebMD).

Oregano extract is similar to oregano oil, but it is taken by mouth. It is available as a liquid or in capsule form.

Like the oil of oregano, oregano extract should not be used during pregnancy as it can lead to miscarriage. Any similar medicinal forms of oregano are also not pregnancy-safe.

oregano tea and leaves on a table

Can I Drink Oregano Tea When Pregnant?

Oregano tea is not safe to drink during pregnancy in large amounts. The tea is made by steeping oregano leaves in hot water. This can release a significant amount of thymol into the tea. When consumed, it can lead to uterine contractions or miscarriage.

It’s best to avoid oregano tea altogether during pregnancy unless recommended by your physician. Additionally, be sure to check herbal tea labels and avoid any teas that contain oregano, just to be on the safe side.

If you are looking for an herbal tea to drink, many other options are safe for pregnancy, like ginger tea or chamomile tea.

In a nutshell: you can still enjoy the amazing aroma and taste of oregano during pregnancy, as long as you avoid medicinal products like oregano oil or oregano extract.