Researchers have published a study showing that a compound in oregano oil known as carvacrol is effective against the norovirus, the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea worldwide. This chemical breaks down the protein of the very tough outer coating of the virus, known as the capsid. This allows another virus to enter the norovirus, killing it. (Carvacrol is the substance in oregano oil that gives this herb its distinctive warm, aromatic smell and flavour. Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting disease, is particularly problematic in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and recently in the news – cruise ships. It is a very common cause of food-borne diseases. Al-though unpleasant, most people recover fully within a few days. But for people with an existing serious medical problem, this highly infectious virus can be dangerous, even deadly.)
The team suggested carvacrol could be used as a food sanitizer and possibly as a surface sanitizer, although further study is required. Because carvacrol is slower acting than many disinfectants such as bleach, it would be best used as part of a routine cleaning regimen to provide long-lasting antimicrobial residue on surfaces. The good news is that because carvacrol acts on the external proteins of the virus, it is unlikely that norovirus would ever develop resistance.
This study will appear in a future issue of the Journal of Applied Microbiology. It was pre-released online February 12, 2014 at the journal website, where it can be read in full at http://tinyurl.com/lvyypvu with fee payment.