Marjoram

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Common name: Marjoram, garden marjoram, knotted marjoram, pot marjoram, sweet marjoram, sweet knotted marjoram.
Botanical name: Origanum majorana L. syn. Majorana hortensis
Family name: Lamiaceae

Overview: Marjoram is a perennial and considered native in the Mediterranean region where it is widely cultivated. In cooler climates it won’t usually over-winter. I have had success bringing my marjoram inside over the winter and it did well in the subsequent spring and summer outdoors, but it wasn’t as hearty as in its first year.

Marjoram has the typical rectangular stalk of the mint family and the leaves are opposite and oval in shape. Its flowers may be pale pink, purplish or white and appear in clusters in knotted appearing bracts. Fresh sweet marjoram is one of my top favorite scents in the herbal kingdom – pungent and slightly spicy. Crushing a bit of marjoram into my palm to release its perfume is almost addictive!  

Harvest the aerial parts as they begin to flower and dry on a rack indoors or in a shaded location outside.

History and Folklore: In 1597 the herbalist John Gerard made this assessment: “Sweet marjoram is a remedy against cold diseases of the braine and head, being taken anyway to your best liking; put up into the nostrils it provokes sneesing, and draweth forth much baggage flegme; it easeth the toothache being chewed in the mouth.”

Primary therapeutic constituents: Essential oil, monoterpenes, flavonoids, phenolic glycosides, tannins, rosemarinic acid and triterpenoids.  

Medicinal actions: Antispasmodic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-atherosclerosis, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antimetastatic, antioxidant, antiplatlet, antitumor, antiulcerogenic, aromatic, cardioprotective, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, sedative, stomachic. 

Common uses: Well known as a culinary herb in salads, sauces, cheese, liqueurs and as part of the Herbs De Provence blend.

Also used medicinally for flatulence, colic, respiratory problems (irritable cough or upper respiratory disorders accompanied by much sneezing) and the nervous system. It’s a good general tonic, helping to relieve anxiety, headaches and insomnia.

Marjoram is suited to high-strung persons who push themselves, are exhausted, but cannot relax; due to obsessive thinking, particularly about romantic matters; and to irritative conditions of the respiratory tract and digestion (Boericke). It improves the downward movement of the digestive tract and prevents putrefaction (Elliot and de Paoli). Used for digestive spasms, belching, stomach cramps and colitis.

Technique: Extract, infusion, essential oil, sitz bath, pessary, liniment, infused oil, gargle, mouth wash and snuff.

Adult dose: Infusion of the bruised fresh or dried leaves, a pinch to a cup, steep.*

Cautions and contraindications: Do not take during pregnancy. Do not ingest the oil.

Taste: Spicy, sweet, warm

Energy: Warming

Educational video: I found a short little narrated list of Marjoram’s nutritional and health promoting abilities. It’s a great review of what I’ve covered here, plus a bit extra. Watch 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Marjoram. 


Personal experience: Other than being in love with the scent of marjoram in the palm of my hand I also infuse the oil for the same reason. 

Originally I purchased a marjoram plant because I had trouble finding it in the seasoning section of every grocery store I checked. I wanted to make my own Herbs DeProvence for my kefir cheese.

I am so grateful to discover that this lovely herb has even more to offer than I imagined! I tried the infusion as soon as I learned of its affinity for the digestive system. Mine is always challenging me in one way or another. At the time of the trial I had a slight headache, dry mouth and a grumbling tummy. I used half the amount recommended for my first try. Low and slow is the motto when trying new things! The infusion had a mild aroma and taste so it was easy to sip. The small dose informed me that I was safe to proceed as I had no adverse reactions to prevent me from experiencing this herb more regularly. I have to say that even though this small infusion didn’t remedy my dry mouth or headache, my stomach felt a little calmer. I don’t believe that one little taste test is going to do medicinal cartwheels for anyone though. More infusions taken regularly is the route to discovering just how this herb might become a favored ally. I look forward to finding out!


References:

Matthew Wood. The Earthwise Herbal. Volume I – A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. p. 367-368 *

Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. p. 242

Lesley Bremness. Eyewitness Handbooks. HERBS – The visual guide to more than 700 herb species from around the world. p. 196

Herbal Academy, (n.d.) Marjoram monograph. Retrieved from https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/5138


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