Simple Oregano Keeps Chickens Disease Free

Za'atar, superbug, antibiotics, oregano, oregano oil, natural health remedies, livestock, poultryIt’s za’atar season in the Middle East and though we don’t really need it, there’s another reason to love this versatile spice: it could be useful as an alternative to antibiotics. Both a perennial herb and a spice mixed with other ingredients, za’atar livens up a host of dishes throughout the Gulf, Levant and Mediterranean.

Now a small handful of farmers in the United States are feeding their poultry and livestock an oregano oil mixture in lieu of increasingly ineffective antibiotics, The New York Times reports. And they insist it keeps the animals disease free. Though the numbers are compelling, scientists caution there is insufficient data to substantiate their claims. 

In corporations we foolishly trust

Long before pharmaceutical companies got their start, human beings relied on the fruits of nature to stay healthy. We used to know the properties of every shrub and berry in the woods, we knew what to eat and what to leave, and we passed on what we knew to our communities.

But then we stopped trusting anything that isn’t backed by an arsenal of scientists and convinced ourselves that corporations would put our health before their capital gain.

Certainly mortality rates are typically lower now than they were in centuries past, but we’re beginning to understand that perhaps our ancestors, who treated a host of medical conditions without laboratories stocked with beakers and test tubes, might have been on to something.

The recent rise of superbugs resistant to antibiotics is beginning to worry both scientists and farmers, who are now reverting to natural remedies like By-O-Reg to raise healthy animals.

Comprised of oregano oil and a touch of cinnamon, this concoction is used to feed the chickens at Bell & Evans near Harrisburg. For the last three years, owner Scott Sechler has substituted antibiotics with this Dutch-made product renowned for its antiseptic qualities, and claims to be raking in the dough as a result of supplying a revived consumer demand for healthy, pure food.

“I have worried a bit about how I’m going to sound talking about this,” Sechler told the NYT. “But I really do think we’re on to something here.”

The science of the matter

While Scott Gavura, a pharmacist in Toronto who writes for the Web site Science-Based Medicine, refutes these claims for their lack of scientific basis, other research combined with empirical evidence seems to back them up.

In 2000 scientists reported that a handful of human beings who tested positive for enteric parasites were cured with a six week long treatment that consisted of regular doses of oregano oil.

The European Union has banned the use of antibiotics used as a catalyst for faster growth and are considering banning their use for medical applications as well.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a joint statement with various advocacy groups that recommends “limiting the use of medically important human antibiotics in food animals” and “supporting the use of such antibiotics in animals only for those uses that are considered necessary for assuring animal health,” the New York Times reports.

Of course oregano oil is no miracle cure since its medicinal application is most effective when combined with good hygiene and nutrition. But here’s our take home message: go forth, eat za’atar and be healthy.

:: The New York Times

Image of fresh za’atar, Shutterstock

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7 thoughts on “Simple Oregano Keeps Chickens Disease Free”

  1. Chickenlady in CA says:

    Wouldn’t it be smarter, just to feed the animals properly, and have a low stress raising situation? Yes oregano is a natural antibiotic, but it should not be fed continually. That is the same mentality as keeping them on antibiotics all the time. Have you ever been on antibiotics for any length of time ? How do you feel ? It should only be fed as a remedy for a malady. Feeding Probiotics as in cultured feeds is a much better alternative. Soaked grains with cultures added is excellant for chickens and other poultry. Use the oregano as a medicine if needed, but use probiotics after, always.

  2. Melissa S says:

    I will def try oil of oregeno for my chickens who sometimes require and antibiotic. I wonder if you can feed them the herb itself? Chop a leaf or two? Will investigate.
    I recently got rid of a mild kidney infection (no fever, puss in urine, low back pain) within 3 days using cranberry capsules and echinacea capsules in addition to my other daily vitamins. Bombdiggedy!
    However, would def have gone to Dr and gotten stronger meds if I’d had a fever. Kidney infection is serious stuff.

  3. Jodi says:

    I keep oil of oregano on hand and use it myself when I am becoming ill. It knocked out a UTI I had several years ago that no antibiotic would touch. I swear by the stuff.

    Let’s get back to nature folks, before it’s too late.

    1. Jodi, I struggle with UTI’s too… I think I’ll give the oregano oil a shot. Thanks!

  4. Herbie says:

    Let’s get this message out to all farmers, and people who are trying to raise a little livestock. There is no need for harmful and ineffective antibiotics, there are safer and more natural alternatives like rosemary and oregano. Mother Nature knows best!

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