Oregano and Sheep
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Douglas Freeborn
Posted on: June 02, 2010

In an article on sheep the author described some of the benefits of using Oregano. The problems described for the sheep are also a challenge for rabbits and I raise both on my small farm.

The article referenced "carvacrol" as the active ingredient and also recommended oil made from the wild Mediterranean oregano plant. In checking your Oregano listings I noticed that you have several kinds; I am not sure what kind grows in the walkway around my pond but at a 4 inch clipping height it has survived for several years. I would like to incorporate some Oregano plants in the fence lines of the sheep pasture fields so that when crop rotation takes the field out of pasture, the oregano will continue to grow. Would the Greek Kaliteri be the best as a browsing plant and growing semi wild or would you recommend a different Oregano?

The article listed measurements as a drop of Oregano oil per CC of olive oil for lambs. My bottle of Oregano has a dropper but am not sure if herbalists have a standard drop size or how many drops in a 25 ml bottle. I need about 200 cc for the lambs and about 125 cc for the rabbits so counting drops might put me to sleep - its lambing time and barn checks and feedings are every 6 hours!

What is the percentage of carvacrol in your Oregano oil? Is your Oregano oil from wild sources or certified free of insecticides and herbicides?

Thanks so much for your email. You have asked quite a few questions and a number of them are fairly complicated to answer. I’ll begin with an experpt from Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book "The Complete Handbook for Farm and Stable". She references Origanum onites (Marjoram) and states: "...this plant possesses an aromatic oil. It is well liked by goats and sheep and imparts a sweet taste to their milk. The whole plant is highly tonic, nervine and blood purifying. The British species, O. vulgaris, has much the same properties and can be used. Marjoram has the enviable reputation among the herbs of curing all aches and pains.

Uses: Treatment of digestive ailments, especially flatulence, colic, catarrh of the stomach, obstructions. Nervous ailments, hysteria. Fevers. Externally: wounds and tumours.

Dose: Four handfuls of the herb fed twice daily in bran mash. Externally: cut finely, place in a linen bag, infuse in hot wine and then apply to inflamed areas, swollen glands, wounds and tumours: a Spanish gypsy remedy."

Other than what is stated above regarding variety of Oregano, here is some information regarding carvacrol amounts in various varieties:

Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum (Common Turkish Oregano, Greek Oregano, Wild Oregano): Plant: 0-23,960 ppm

Origanum onites (Oregano, Pot Oregano): Plant: 8310 ppm

Origanum minutiflorum (Small Flowered Oregano): Shoot: 16,890-20,000 ppm

Origanum majoram (Marjoram, Sweet Marjoram): Plant: 6261 ppm

Origanum vulgare (European Oregano, Pot Marjoram, Wild Marjoram): Plant: 0-640 ppm

As you can see, there is a wide variation in carvacrol amounts. This phenomenon is due to the fact that volatile oils (of which carvacrol is one) are one of a plant’s responses to stress. If the plant is grown in an area where there is rich soil, perfect weather, no insects or animals chewing leaves, etc., then the volatile oil levels will be lower than if the plant was grown on a rocky hillside with little topsoil, lots of sun exposure, not enough water, constantly attacked by wildlfe. Does this make sense? Therefore, it is impossible to state what the carvacrol levels in a plant would be ahead of the time an individual plant is picked and tested. As a sidebar, this is part of the concept behind standardised herbal extracts. As plants are living entities, each one will react to its environment in a different fashion and may have differing constituent levels. Standardization aims to even out the ups and downs of individuality and keep chosen active ingredients at one pre-decided level.

As for your question regarding pesticide and herbicide free certification, I cannot answer that question. Best option would be for you to call the Richters greenhouse at 1-905-640-6677. I am sure the experts at the greenhouses would be happy to answer your question.

And lastly, herbalists generally tend to think of 20 drops as being one millilitre of fluid. However, it really depends on your dropper. My best suggestion would be for you to drop fluid into a medical measuring cup or graduated cylinder until you reach one ml. You will only have to do this once but it will tell you how many drops to a ml your dropper can manage. One more point is that volatile oils usually sold as essential oils are very powerful medicines. Better to have too little in a formula than too much. Although I appreciate that measuring by drop dose can be tiring it might be best to err on the side of caution and continue to measure out your oils in this fashion.

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