Toxicity

Besides toxicological data, referring to toxicities of single components of essential oils — such as limonene (carcinogenic in male rats) from O. majorana (de Vincenzi and Mancini 1997) — several clinical studies confirmed the allergenic potential of Origanum spp. On the basis of clinical history, and of in vitro and in vivo studies, O. vulgare showed cross-sensitivity with other plants of the Lamiaceae family. The potential allergic response, that could be evoked in sensitive patients after the ingestion of food seasoned with O. vulgare, comprises an increased serum level of specific IgE and induced systemic allergic reactions (Benito et al., 1996). Similarly, perioral dermatitis has been reported to be induced by O. majorana food flavouring (Farkas, 1981). O. vulgare has been shown also to induce allergic contact dermatitis, as clinically evaluated by patch test (Futrell and Rietschel, 1993).

Due to empirically proven emmenagogue and abortifacient effects, excessive use of O. vulgare or O. majorana should be avoided during pregnancy (Brinker, 1998).

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