Sweet Marjoram Information, Uses and Warning

Marjoram / Marua (Origanum majorana) is an aromatic plant native to Southern Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. We all know it as culinary flavoring. It is used as a kitchen herb and ornamental plant. The fresh or dried leaves of plant are used as condiment for food seasoning. Scientific name of this plant is Origanum majorana, Majorana majorana or Majorana hortensis and it belongs to Mint family. It is should not be confused with Origanum vulgare or Oregano, which is a different plant.

Marjoram is a healing herb and used traditionally for anxiety, flatulence, menstrual pain, female complaints, colds, fevers and insomnia. The seeds are also used therapeutically. The tea prepared from the leaves give relief in indigestion and flatulence. It has camphor-like and tannic properties. The oil extracted from the plant is used on chest congestion, muscle aches, arthritis, sprain, bruise and toothache. Chewing few leaves helps in tooth ache, gum problems and bad breath. It is also used to reduce sexual libido.

In homeopathy, Sweet marjoram tincture is given as effective remedy for sexual addiction, masturbation and excessively aroused sexual impulses in women. It acts on nervous system and gives good better results in anxiety, headaches and insomnia. For preparing the tincture, fresh, finely chopped aerial parts in flower are steeped in alcohol.

Vernacular names/Synonyms

  1. Latin name: Origanum majorana
  2. Sanskrit: Fanijjaka, Phanijjaka, Sukhaatmaka, Marubaka
  3. Hindi: Marubaka, Murva, Murwa, Marawaa, Maruvam
  4. Kannada: Maruga
  5. Bengali: Muru
  6. Malayalam: Maruvamu
  7. Kumauni: Bantulsi
  8. Deccan: Murwa
  9. Tamil: Maruvu, Marukkolundan
  10. Unani: Marzanjosh
  11. Common names in India: Maruae, Marua, Maruvaka
  12. English: Sweet marjoram, Knotted marjoram
  13. French: Marjolaine
  14. German: Marjoran
  15. Italian: Maggiorana
  16. Spanish: Mejorana

General Information

Marjoram is a perennial plant with creeping roots, branched woody stems and opposite, petiolate and hairy leaves. It is cultivated as a biennial in colder climates. It has small, elliptical, velvety, green-gray leaves. The plant reaches height of 1-2 feet. The plant propagates from the seeds.

There are at least 61 species of 17 genera belonging to six families are mentioned under the name oregano. The Greek legends say the sweet aroma of plant comes from the touch of the goddess Aphrodite, who first cultivated the flower.

The name of plant is derived from the Greek words oros, mountain and hill, and ganos, ornament.

Marjoram and Orgeno are closely related but are different plant species. Both are essential ingredients in Greek, Italian and French cuisine and used in folk medicine to treat colds, coughs, gastrointestinal problems and a variety of other conditions.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Origanum vulgare Linn. is known as Wild Marjoram, Jangali Marua, Marzanjosh and Oregano. It has classic pungent, hot and spicy oregano flavor. In India, it is mainly found in Shimla hills and in Kashmir valley. It is a perennial runner spreading plant. It has leaves which are oval, smaller toward the top, acute, with generally entire margins. The inflorescence is multiply compound. Corolla is purple-red, pink or purple.

Oregano is main Pizza spice and sprinkled on baked pizza to enhance taste. It is also used in meat, sausages, salads, stewing, dressings and soups. Oregano oil and oregano resin are used in foods, beverages and cosmetics. The leaves of plant contains significant amounts of vitamins E, B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenate and biotin. Oregano is also rich in mineral elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, Sulphur, chlorine, iodine and selenium. Its sodium content is low.

Oregano leaves are also used medicinally to treat respiratory (as expectorant and spasmolytic agent) and gastro-intestinal disorders (as choleretic, digestive, eupeptic and spasmolytic agent) due to presence of phenolic compounds carvacrol and thymol. They have antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, insect-repelling and anti-biotic action.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Marua is Origanum majorana. It belongs to plant family Labiatae / Lamiaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  1. Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  2. Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  3. Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  4. Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  5. Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  6. Subclass: Asteridae
  7. Order: Lamiales
  8. Family: Lamiaceae – Mint family
  9. Genus: Origanum L. – origanum P
  10. Species: Origanum majorana L. – sweet marjoram
  11. Synonym: Majorana hortensis Moench

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaves

Plant type: Perennial herb

Origin: Found in regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Habitat: wild in the Mediterranean area and in Asia.

Flowers: purple, pink or white

Leaves colour: Green to gray green

Chief Action: Digestive, antispasmodic, antiseptic, expectorant and pain relieving

Types of Origanum

The genus Origanum consists of over 44 species, 6 subspecies, 3 botanical varieties and 18 naturally occurring hybrids, and includes several types of oregano.

  1. Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum (Greek oregano)
  2. Origanum vulgare subsp. gracile (Russian oregano)
  3. Origanum vulgare subsp. glandulosum (Algerian oregano)
  4. Origanum majorana (Sweet marjoram)
  5. Origanum dictamnus (dittany of crete, hop marjoram)
  6. Origanum xmajoricum (Italian oregano/Hardy sweet marjoram)
  7. Origanum onites (Turkish oregano/Rigani)
  8. Origanum syriacum (Syrian oregano/Za’atar)

Constituents of Origanum majorana

Marjoram contains about 3% volatile oil comprising sabinene hydrate, sabinene, linalool, carvacrol, estrogole, eugenol and terpenes, flavonoids including luteolin-7-glucoside, diosmetin- 7-glucoside, apigenin-7-glucoside, rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, and triterpenoids such as ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, sterols.

Marjoram Oil

Marjoram essential oil or oil of sweet Marjoram is obtained from the dried leaves and flowering tops of Origanum majorana by steam distillation. The fresh leaves of plants contain about 0.3-0.5% oil. In dried plant upto 1 % oil is present.

The colour of oil ranges from pale yellow to amber. It tastes bitter and have penetrating aroma.

Marjoram oil is antiseptic and antiviral. It is diuretic and stimulates secretion of urine. The oil is mainly used in flavoring food items. This essential oil is rubbed externally on sprain, bruises, muscles stiffness and aching tooth.

Important Medicinal Properties

Marua is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it has emmenagogue action and increases blood flow to pelvic area. Emmenagogue are used to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is absent for reasons other than pregnancy, such as hormonal disorders or conditions.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Allergenic: having the capacity to induce allergy
  2. Analgesic: Relieve pain.
  3. Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
  4. Anticancer: Against cancer.
  5. Astringents: Constrict tissues, styptic.
  6. Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  7. Anticonvulsant: Prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
  8. Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
  9. Antiviral: Antibacterial: Active against viruses.
  10. Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
  11. Digestive: Digestant.
  12. Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
  13. Emmenagogue: Stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
  14. Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  15. Sedative: Promoting calm or inducing sleep

Medicinal uses of Sweet Marjoram / Marua

  1. It is a digestant and appetizer herb.
  2. It helps in fever, flatulence, cough and viral infections.
  3. It is sedative, tranquillizer and neurotonic.
  4. It stimulates periods.
  5. For migraine the leaf juice is extracted and put in each nostril in dose of 4 drops.
  6. The chutney prepared from the leaves is helpful in intestinal parasites.
  7. The tea is taken in respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders.
  8. The oregano essential oil is rubbed on painful-swollen joints.
  9. For bad breath, the leaves of plant are chewed.
  10. For cough, boil the leaves, ginger and black pepper in water for few minutes. Filter and drink lukewarm.
  11. For muscular pain in body, boil fresh leaves of oregano 3 grams, dry ginger powder 2 grams and Ashwagandha 2 gram in 400 ml water till water reduces to one fourth. Filter and drink.
  12. For flatulence the chutney or decoction of plant is taken.
  13. The leaves are also used as insect repellent.

The tea prepared from the leaves is used to cause sweating in high temperature. They are effective in cold-cough, bronchitis, inflammations of the throat and fever. The tea is sweet, warm and have flavor resembling a blend of thyme, rosemary, and sage. It stimulates menstruation and given in menstrual irregularities. The leaf paste is applied for skin diseases, insect bite and earache.

How to Brew Infusion or Tea of Marjoram (Origanum Majorana)

The infusion of Marjoram fresh or dried leaves has calming effect on mind and emmenagogue action. It has as a warm, sweet, slightly oily taste. This simple preparation is useful in:

  1. Hysteria, insomnia, indigestion
  2. Improving digestion
  3. Stimulating appetite
  4. Flatulence, constipation, acidity
  5. Constipation
  6. Symptoms of cold and flu
  7. Dry cough
  8. Runny nose
  9. Bladder disorders, dropsy
  10. Nausea, Motion sickness
  11. Nervous headaches

Externally the infusion is used to wash for treating eczema, inflammation and wounds. It can be used as gargle in tonsillitis and gum swelling.

Preparation of Tea

  • Take 2 teaspoons of fresh herb, or 1 teaspoon of dried herb.
  • Soak in one cup boiling water for ten minutes or more (as per taste).
  • Filter and drink.
  • This should be taken thrice a day.

Dosage of Marjoram

  • Few leaves for chewing.
  • For infusion, use 10-15 grams of leaves in one cup boiling water.
  • Tincture: 0.5–1 teaspoon, upto thrice a day.

Warning / Contraindications

  • The herb is not suited for extended use.
  • Do not take in pregnancy, it has emmenagogue action.
  • Avoid during breastfeeding.
  • Do not give to children below the age of 12.
  • Not to be taken by those who suffer from allergy to mint family plant.
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