- Origanum majorana (synonym: Majorana hortensis )
- Lip flower ( Labiaceae / Lamiaceae ) Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Cyprus, France, Hungary, and other regions around the Mediterranean
- Plant Part: Fresh Flowering Herb
- Marjoram is available as a distillate (essential oil).
Characteristic of marjoram
The genus Origanum consists of 60 different plants or shrubs. There are many Origanum species that provide essential oil. The best-known varieties are the real or sweet marjoram (O. majorana) and the wild marjoram (O. vulgare), also known as oregano.
The real marjoram originates from the border area between present-day Iraq and Iran but has become wild in the entire Mediterranean region, where the plant is also grown today, especially Egypt and Tunisia are production countries. Marjoram is a delicate upright semi-shrub, up to 60 cm high and with grey, oval leaves. In late summer the small white to pink flowers appear in the upper leaf axils.
Marjoram is an ancient cultivated plant that was already cultivated in ancient Egypt as an ingredient for perfume and as a medicine. In the early Middle Ages, the plant was introduced to our regions, where it became known as a relaxing herb.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) mentioned marjoram as the strongest sedative at the time. Marjoram was also widely used in the kitchen and served as a seasoning and preservation of meat dishes (including sausage). Provencal herbs almost always contain marjoram.
From the middle of the 19th century, the essential oil is distilled from the flowering plant. There are different chemotypes of the real marjoram. The most common is the terpinene-4-ol type. A second chemotype is cis-thujanol-4.
Other marjoram oils are of the carvacrol or linalool type and are often marketed under the name ‘wild oregano’ (Tisserand 2014). Furthermore, the oil of the real/sweet marjoram should not be confused with the Spanish marjoram (Thymus mastichina), a thyme native to Spain with a completely different composition and properties.
Due to the high content of monoterpenols (especially terpinene-4-ol), in combination with monoterpenes and esters, the oil is widely applicable.Terpinene-4-ol is also an important active ingredient in tea tree oil and has strong antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, which means that marjoram can serve as a substitute for tea trees.
The combination of monoterpenols and esters gives marjoram its strong relaxing and soothing qualities: wherever there is tension (and pain), marjoram regulates and gives relaxation (Heghes 2019).
Overstimulated nerves that express themselves in heart complaints, such as palpitations and tachycardia, high blood pressure, restlessness, irritability, headaches, and sleep disorders can be treated with marjoram. Especially if the symptoms are aggravated by stress (Merino 2019).
This relaxing and at the same time antispasmodic/pain-numbing effect can also be seen in the treatment of severe airway spasms (including asthma, croup), digestive disorders (including spastic intestinal complaints – Macrane 2019), muscle cramps, and uterine cramps such as severe menstrual pain (Ou 2012).
The oil is said to be so soothing that it also reduces libido/sexual desire and can be used for sexual overstimulation. That was one of the reasons that marjoram used to be found in monastery gardens.
The yield of essential oil for marjoram is highly variable: between 1 and 3%. This means that between 100 and 200 kilos of marjoram plants are needed for 1 kilo of essential oil.
The fresher the material, the lower the yield. Sometimes the relatively expensive marjoram oil is adulterated with other oils such as tea tree or thyme. The color of marjoram oil is usually light yellow. The oil darkens with aging. The scent of marjoram is warm and sweet-spicy with a light camphor and lemon note.
The oil is somewhat similar to tea trees but sweeter. Marjoram oil is a flavoring agent in meat products, a fragrance in cleaning products, and added to skincare products. In the perfume industry, marjoram is used in men’s perfumes as a middle to top note.
Important Ingredients of Marjoram
- Monoterpenes (40-50%): ao γ-terpinene (7-25%), a-terpinene (3-17%), sabinene (3-9%), myrcene (1-9%), p-cymene (2 -5%), terpinolene (2-4%), – and -pinene, β-phellandrene, limonene, camphene, cadinene, δ-3-carene
- Sesquiterpenes (up to 7%): ao β-caryophyllene (2-7%), a-humulene
- Monoterpenols (up to 40-50%): ao terpineen-4-ol (16-37%), a-terpineol (5-10%), linalool (2-5%), thujanols, piperitol, geraniol, borneol
- Aldehydes (up to 5%): citral
- Esters (up to 10%): ao linalyl acetate (3-10%), geranyl acetate (1-8%), terpenyl acetate, terpinen-4-yl acetate
- Other: cis- and trans-sabinene hydrate (3-16%) Traces of ketones, oxides and sesquiterpenols
Properties of marjoram
Broad-spectrum bactericidal, slightly antifungal, disinfectant, strong antispasmodic, relaxing and soothing by activating the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, analgesic, vasodilating, and blood pressure lowering, tonic for the heart, and anaphrodisiac (sexually cooling).
Application of marjoram oil
In the aroma evaporator: Marjoram gives off a warm spicy scent that mixes well with oils such as ylang-ylang, neroli, bergamot and other citrus oils, lavender, blue and Roman chamomile, cypress, cedar, and pine. Marjoram combines antibacterial and relaxing/antispasmodic properties.
In the fragrance evaporator, marjoram has an antispasmodic effect on respiratory infections and cramps, such as bronchitis, sinusitis, tightness of the chest, whooping cough. It is one of the best relaxing oils. And soft enough for kids. Marjolein relaxes and is clearly anesthetic (Johnson 2012) for (tension) headaches and even migraines.
Marjolein relaxes and soothes irritability, restlessness, the feeling of being hunted, and other tensions (Merino 2019; Johnson 2016). Marjoram is also a good sedative for insomnia, which is mainly caused by worry and tension. A combination of lavender or neroli is suitable for this.
On the skin: see general application rules. Marjoram suits oily skin. The oil purifies and is anti-inflammatory for impure skin such as acne. Due to the effect on the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, marjoram has a dilating, anti-cramping, and therefore the analgesic effect on the veins and bronchi: to be used for muscle pains, cramps, rheumatism, joint pains, neuralgias, headaches, and menstrual cramps (Ou 2012).
The vasodilator effect makes marjoram an excellent oil for high blood pressure and heart complaints such as palpitations and tachycardia, possibly together with ylang-ylang. Marjoram can also be used for other complaints caused by tension and overstimulation.
Internally or through a skin oil, marjoram can be used for digestive complaints such as spastic bowel syndrome and can be combined with peppermint. It is possible that marjoram oil can be used in a functional overactive thyroid.
In the bath: see general application rules. Through baths, marjoram can be used for high blood pressure, tachycardia, increased thyroid function (medical diagnosis is absolutely necessary!), muscle aches, headaches.
Dosage of marjoram oil
- In the aroma evaporator: a few drops according to your preference.
- On the skin: up to 6% in adults – when used topically.
- In the bath: maximum 6 drops in a full bath.
Overdose And Side Effects Of Marjoram Oil
In physiological doses (up to 1%) marjoram is non-toxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitizing. However, the monoterpenes in the oil can oxidize increasing the risk of skin irritation .
Marjoram Oil Warnings
Internal use during pregnancy is not recommended because of the stimulating effect on the uterus. Do not use in case of low blood pressure. The maximum dosage in small children is 0.5% in skin oil.