Marjoram (Origanum majorana, syn. Majorana hortensis Moench, Majorana majorana (L.) H. Karst) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum. It is also called pot marjoram, although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum.
The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).[ Marjoram is indigenous to Cyprus and southern Turkey, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.
Leaves are smooth, simple, petiolated, ovate to oblong-ovate, (0.5-1.5 cm) long, (0.2-0.8 cm) wide, with obtuse apex, entire margin, symmetrical but tapering base, and reticulate venation. The texture is extremely smooth due to the presence of numerous hairs.
Considered a tender perennial (USDA Zones 7-9),  marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5. Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as herbes de Provence and za’atar. The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam-distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, and pinene.
What is Marjoram Essential Oil?
Sweet Marjoram oil is made from the steam distillation of the flowering tops of the marjoram plant (Origanum marjoram), a cousin of oregano. This yellow-green essential oil has a warm, spicy, woody, and camphoraceous scent that reminds you of nutmeg and cardamom. Meanwhile, Spanish marjoram oil, a different type of essential oil also derived from the marjoram plant, has a red-orange hue.
Originally native to the Mediterranean regions and North America, today sweet marjoram is widely cultivated for the large-scale commercial production of its essential oil in Egypt, France, Germany, Tunisia, Spain, and more recently, the United States.
Origins and folklore
Originating from the Mediterranean and North Africa, marjoram spread far and wide reaching Egypt around 2000 BC, according to early records. The Egyptians dedicated marjoram to the god of the underworld, Osiris, and it was used as a funerary herb as well as to produce unguents, medicines and even love potions.
The Greeks and Romans considered it the herb of happiness, dedicating it to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility and beauty. Garlands of marjoram were placed on the heads of newly-weds as a symbol of love and honour. It was also employed as a funerary herb by the Greeks to promote restful peace for the deceased.
References to marjoram appear in Banckes’s Herbal, which is believed to have been the first ever herbal book printed in England in 1527. In this ground-breaking book it was reported that, ‘It hath vertue of comforting, of loosing, of consuming, and of cleansing.’ Sweet marjoram was recognised as a valuable medicine with antispasmodic, digestive, decongestant and sedating properties and would be used successfully until modern drugs replace its use.
Origins and extraction
Marjoram is cultivated for the production of essential oil in Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Tunisia, Spain and more recently in the USA. In the south of France, harvesting usually takes place between August and September when the flowers are in full bloom. After collection, the herbage is dried for several days and the stems removed before charging the still.
Extraction is by steam distillation which produces a pale straw or yellow coloured essential oil with a warm and herbaceous, woody-spicy aroma with subtle backnotes reminiscent of tea tree, cardamom and nutmeg.
The main chemical constituents are sabinene, a-terpinene, y-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, cis-sabinene hydrate, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol and y-terpineol.
When used regularly, Marjoram is a great addition to a healthy diet. Two tablespoons of Marjoram is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients. Every two tablespoons of Marjoram contains:
Vitamin A: 6% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
Calcium: 8% RDA
Vitamin C: 3.5% RDA
Iron: 18% RDA
Suggestions for Use
Marjoram Tea: Grind marjoram leaves into a paste and add hot water or tea. Use one teaspoon of ground Marjoram per 7 ounces of water. Boil the mixture for 15 minutes. Drink two to four cups of this tea over the span of two hours for digestive benefits.
Stronger Marjoram Tea: Add two teaspoons of Marjoram to a cup of 7 ounces of cold water. Let it soak for 24 hours and add honey to it. An even stronger tea may be made by adding 6 teaspoons Marjoram to 7 ounces of water. It has a calming, antidepressive effect.
Marjoram Essential Oil: The oil may be rubbed into the skin to relieve cramps, sprains, toothache, or other ailments.
Dilute 1-2 drops and apply to the back of the neck to lessen tension and stress.
Diffuse before going to bed for a better night’s sleep or add to a cotton ball and place near your pillow.
Replace Marjoram essential oil in your next recipe that calls for dried Marjoram. Usually 1 drop of essential oil is equivalent to 2 tsp. of dried herbs.
Diffuse to promote healthy respiratory function.
Massage 1-2 drops over the area or into the reflex points of the feet 1-2 times a day to help cardiovascular support within the body.
Health Benefits of Marjoram Essential Oil
marjoram oil reduces the pain associated with colds, fevers, inflammation, overexertion of muscles, toothaches, headaches and numerous other sources. The best thing about this is that it does not have any adverse side effects, unlike the other analgesic pain relievers available on the market.
Marjoram essential oil is helpful in curing nearly all types of spasms and related problems. It efficiently relieves spasm in the respiratory system and intestines, and muscular spasms in the limbs. It also helps to cure convulsions, pulled muscles, cramps, and spasmodic cholera that are caused from uncontrollable spasms.
As you can probably guess, this is the exact opposite of being an aphrodisiac. Marjoram essential oil helps to suppress or control sexual desires. This property is beneficial for those who are suffering from abnormal and extreme sexual urges.
The antiseptic properties of marjoram oil make it a good application for both external and internal wounds. It also functions well as an ingredient of antiseptic lotions and creams. This protects the wounds against becoming septic and developing tetanus.
Furthermore, can be effective in curing infections from viruses and ailments associated with them, such as the common cold, influenza, mumps, measles and even pox.
Marjoram oil kills bacteria, so it can protect you from food poisoning, typhoid, malaria, colic, and bacterial infections in the colon, skin, digestive system, urinary tract and other parts of the excretory system.
Marjoram essential oil can efficiently handle any gas trouble you may have. It provides the gases a safe downward passage by relaxing the muscles in the abdominal region and also stops further gas from forming. This help get rid of a number of related problems such as indigestion, nausea, vomiting, stomachache, chest pain, hypertension and excessive flatulence.
Marjoram oil is very good for the functioning of your brain. It keeps it healthy and active and does not let it get dull with advanced age, thereby relieving debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This quality also relieves you of headaches.
It has a general warming effect on the body’s systems, and it improves circulation to increase blood flow, furthering warming your cells. This property helps to get rid of coughs and excess phlegm, while simultaneously relieving the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.
Marjoram Oil promotes perspiration and keeps you healthy by aiding in the removal of toxins, sodium salts and excess water from the body. This also helps bring down fevers and even helps you lose weight, since urine is composed of approximately 4% fat.
Marjoram seeds have been in use as a remedy to facilitate digestion for many years. This digestive property of marjoram seeds comes from its essential oils. Marjoram oil promotes digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices like gastric juices, acids and bile in the stomach, while its aroma alone can stimulate the salivary glands and thus aid in the primary digestion of food in the mouth. Lastly, this oil stimulates the peristaltic movement of the intestines and helps the ingested food to advance through digestive tract, thereby facilitating digestion and regular bowel movements.
Marjoram Oil increases the frequency of urination and the quantity of urine, thus helping to remove excess water, sodium, uric acid, bile salts and other toxic elements from the body. Increased urination also lowers blood pressure, cleans kidneys and reduces fat. Just one thing to remember, if you are not suffering from swelling or accumulation of water in the body, then you should drink more water if you are taking marjoram oil, since frequent urination can lead to dehydration, which is also quite dangerous for your health.
Ladies who have problems with irregular, obstructed or painful menstruation can benefit from the emenagogue property of marjoram oil. Not only does it help to clear menses and make them regular, it also provides relief from other symptoms associated with periods, such as headache, pain in the abdominal area, dizziness, and mood swings. Finally, marjoram oil can help prevent untimely or premature menopause from setting in.
Marjoram essential oil has been shown to be quite effective at giving relief from the deposition of mucus and phlegm in the throat and sinuses, as well as congestion of the nasal tract, larynx, pharynx, bronchi and lungs due to colds and viral infections. It is particularly effective on chronic coughing.
It inhibits the growth of fungus and helps to cure fungal infections. This property helps cure a number of skin diseases, most of which are caused due to fungal infections. It also helps cure dysentery, which is often caused due to dangerous fungal growth.
It helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and brain hemorrhaging
It helps to clear out the bowels by stimulating the large intestine and relaxing the excretory system as a whole.
Marjoram Essential Oil acts as a vulnerary by promoting the quick healing of wounds, both external and internal, and protecting them from infections.
marjoram oil induces a calming, relaxing and sedative effect on both the mind and body while relieving nervous stress and anxiety. It also generates a happy feeling in cases of anger or sadness. This property can be helpful to pacify people who suffered some sort of shock, trauma, or major setback in life.
It strengthens the entire nervous system, tones it, and keeps you active, while protecting you from various nervous disorders.
Marjoram oil is stomachic, meaning that it keeps the stomach in proper order. It cures stomach disorders and ulcers and ensures proper flow of bile, gastric juices, and acids into the stomach. Sometimes, the inner lining of the stomach becomes corroded due to prolonged acidity and can result in the formation of ulcers. This happens due to a lack of bile, which neutralizes the acids. Marjoram oil can help you avoid this situation as well, since it maintains those proper secretions in the stomach.
This is a very important medicinal property of marjoram oil and can be a blessing for those who are at high risk for heart attacks, atherosclerosis, or brain hemorrhaging due to hypertension. This widens and relaxes the blood vessels, eases the flow of blood, and reduces blood pressure, thereby lessening the strain on the entire cardiovascular system.
Other Benefits: This powerful essential oil helps to cure headache, sinusitis, colds, bronchitis, asthma, stress, insomnia, pain in muscles and joints, and fatigue.
Precautions of Marjoram Essential Oil
Always test for skin sensitivity prior to widespread use and use on the feet when possible. Excessive use of any oil can lead to skin sensitization. Keep out of eyes, ears, or nose. Not all oils are created equal, so test brands carefully, and never use an oil in a way not recommended by its maker.