I really had no idea. Marjoram, an herb I had ignored my whole life, is such a beautiful and mysterious herb. Sure, an obscure recipe calls for marjoram, with minuscule amounts, and I have added it to cooking along the way.
I obligingly would add small amounts of dried marjoram to my recipes in the past, and no one was the wiser, including myself.
Marjoram in no way can shine like it should in that regard.
Shine on my new good friend.
My good confidant and colleague, Calene VanNoy RD, had encouraged me to try it based on its known benefits for pain. The warm sensation instantly did help my neck pain.
What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with its earthy, smoky, woody, warm, and complex aroma, flavors, and medicinal properties. It’s not just an herb, it is an experience.
That scent and potency do not really come through when you buy this herb dried and in a jar. No.
The way to come to love this herb, at least for me, was to try its essential oil.
People compare it to oregano. I’m here to tell you, that while marjoram may look like oregano, and have some similar properties, don’t assume that it has the same effect on your sensibilities. I do love oregano too, but for different reasons.
Origanum majorana is the botanical name of marjoram, and it is also referred to as sweet marjoram. It is a tender perennial that doesn’t tolerate frost.
Marjoram was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness. Marjoram is also called Joy of the Mountains. Experiencing it first-hand, I know why.
Traditional Uses of Marjoram
Uses for marjoram are often to flavor soups, vegetables, salads, vinegar, meats. In France, the seeds have been used in making candies.
Marjoram is able to reduce color damage when canning vegetables like tomatoes.
Marjoram over time has even been used in perfumes, soap, and beer-making .
Medicinal Uses of Marjoram
1. Marjoram May Help Diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Marjoram tea twice daily was able to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the levels of adrenal androgens in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) .
Marjoram was able to inhibit a protein that is involved in insulin production (Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV) in cell culture .
New classes of expensive drugs also have this action to help treat diabetes.
You may have heard of these drugs; they are very expensive. They include:
2. Marjoram Reduces Blood Pressure
Inhaling essential oils, including marjoram, was able to help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and pre-hypertension .
Marjoram is able to lower sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in vasodilatation, which in turn may reduce cardiac strain and decrease blood pressure.
Chronic stress increases the flight or fight response and cortisol levels. Marjoram oil can decrease your stress response and increase your relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) .
3. Marjoram Reduces Pain and Improves Mood
In a collective study of over 10,000 hospital admissions, marjoram oil reduced pain the most of any essential oils and also significantly reduced anxiety .
A blend of essential oils including marjoram was able to reduce menstrual pain and reduce the need for pain medications .
In a nursing home setting, use of a blend of essential oils, including marjoram, dramatically reduced pain and symptoms of depression in people with arthritis .
4. Marjoram May Help Heal Ulcers
In an animal study, marjoram oil helped heal gastric ulcers safely .
5. Marjoram May Help With Cancer Treatment
Marjoram reduced spread of liver cancer in cell culture .
Marjoram essential oil also reduced the spread of leukemia and caused cell death of leukemia cells in culture .
The main component of marjoram is called Terpenin-4-ol. This is similar to tea tree oil (except tea tree is not edible!)
Terpinen-4-ol induces a significant growth inhibition of:
gastric cancer cells in animal models
Further, marjoram worked against cancer cells that were resistant to standard treatment in colorectal cancer.
Impressively, terpenin-4-ol resulted in 80-90% growth reduction of tumors in cell culture .
6. Marjoram May Help With Memory
Marjoram oil has potential to help with memory (anticholinesterase activity). You may be familiar with this action because class of drugs uses it to help treat Alzheimer’s disease .
7. Marjoram Reduces Inflammation and Increase Antioxidants
Marjoram has strong antioxidant activity as well .
Marjoram (Terpenin-4-ol) is also anti-inflammatory in cell culture against lipid-reactive compounds (lipopolysaccharides) .
8. Marjoram May Reduce Harmful Fungal, Viral, and Bacterial Organisms
In cell culture, terpenin-4-ol, present in marjoram, reduced candida growth from vaginal infectious microbes .
Compared to synthetic antibiotics, marjoram essential oils were more effective against E. coli, L. innocua, and S. enteridis in cell culture. This activity was due to its high antioxidant content .
Marjoram helped kill herpes simplex virus and has antifungal properties as well in culture .
9. Marjoram Reduces Head Lice and Other Pests
It really is time to ditch store-brand head lice chemical treatments. Not only are they harmful, they really don’t work.
What about marjoram? Marjoram essential oil was able to even kill drug-resistant head lice at a rate of 100% at the highest concentration .
Don’t like houseflies? Marjoram essential oil naturally repels and kills them .
How to Use Marjoram Essential Oil
Diffuse marjoram for a wonderful, earthy and complex scent.
It is safe to apply topically as well, but as with anything, sensitivities can happen.
Dilute with coconut oil or other neutral oil if desired.
I personally love adding it to my bath water for an other-worldly experience.
Apply to areas of discomfort.
Put it in your soups, stews, and sauces. A drop or two will add wonderful flavor.
Add it to canning to help preserve foods.
Take it internally. It is potent, so 1 drop is plenty.
I find that swishing it in my mouth for a cleansing effect works really well.
To Deter Pests
Dilute in a spray bottle and spray on windowsills, areas where you want to repel or kill insects.
Other great uses:
Apply to the back of the neck to lessen feelings of stress.*
Apply to a fussy child’s feet prior to a nap.
Replace marjoram essential oil in your next recipe that calls for dried Marjoram.
Apply to muscles before and after exercising.
How To Get Quality Marjoram
To get the best quality marjoram essential oil, contact me. Only certain brands are safe and suitable for internal use.
Some companies use harmful hexane, acetone, di-methylene-chloride, and others are used in the process of making the oils.
DoTERRA brand is the one I trust.
Marjoram is generally safe to be used in foods and medicinally short term. However, always check with your healthcare provider before using any new health regimen.
Many studies were performed in culture and are preliminary.
The strongest data about marjoram is for its use in pain and to uplift mood.
Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.