The medicinal parts of the plant are the leaves and flowers, the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant, and the whole of the fresh, flowering plant.
Flower and Fruit
The inconspicuous, sessile flowers barely extend above the surrounding gray tomentose bracts. The calyx appears to have only 1 sepal because the 2 lower sepals are almost nonexistent and the upper 3 are completely fused. The calyx is 2.5 cm long and otherwise resembles the bracts. The corolla is white to pale lilac or pink, 4 mm long, with a few uneven, pointed tips. The 2 upper tips are fused together to form a lip. The stamens are enclosed in the corolla or extend above it. The fruit is a smooth, light brown nutlet, 0.75 to 1 mm long.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is biennial with a main shoot that is heavily branched. It grows 20 to 25 cm high. The downy-to-tomentose shoots are gray-green to whitish, and sometimes tinged with red. The leaves are spatulate, short-petioled, 0.5 to 2 cm long and 0.5 to 1 cm wide, entire-margined, and rounded. They are gray-tomentose on both surfaces, somewhat thick and usually without distinct ribs. The false whorls are mostly covered by the 3 to 4 wide, circular, gray-green bracts, which are fused to globular, racemous or panicled capitula.
The plant has a distinctive tangy odor and a bitter taste.
The plant is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean region and is cultivated in Germany.
Marjoram herb consists of the dried leaf and flower of Origanum majorana (syn. Majorana hortensis), gathered during the flowering season and stripped off the stems. Drying must happen fast to avoid blackening of the leaves. Marjoram oil consists of the essential oil of Origanum majorana obtained by aqueous steam distillation of the fresh or dried leaves and flowers stripped from the stems and harvested during flowering season. Depending on the area of cultivation, there may be two crops of the aerial plant parts per year.
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Marjoram Herb
Chief components in the volatile oil of the foliage: cis-sabinene hydrate (40 to 50%), cis-sabinene hydrate acetate (20 to 30%), sabinene (10%) and trans-sabinene hydrate (2%); cis-sabinene hydrate acetate transforms itself with steam distillation into (among others) terpinene-4-ol (in volatile oil yielded through steam distillation, 15 to 40%), gamma-terpinene (in volatile oil yielded through steam distillation, 2 to 12%), alpha-terpinene, limonene and terpinols, which leads toa change of aroma.
Compounds: Marjoram Oil
Volatile oil (1 to 3%)
Flavonoids: including diosmetin, luteolin, apigenin and their C- and O-glycosides, including vitexin, orientin, thymonine
Hhydroquinone glycosides: including arbutin (0.15 to 0.45%), methyl arbutin
Caffeic acid derivatives: rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid
Water soluble polysaccharides (13%)
Triterpenes: including ursolic acid (0.5%), oleanolic acid (0.2%)
Effects: Marjoram Herb and Oil
In vitro, Marjoram is antimicrobial, antiviral and insecticidal.
Indications & Usage
In folk medicine, Majoram herb and oil are used for cramps, depression, dizziness, gastrointestinal disorders, migraine, nervous headaches, neurasthenia, paralysis, paroxysmal coughs, colds, and as a diuretic.
Homeopathy sometimes uses Marjoram to increase sexual excitability.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. The drug is not suitable for longer-term use because of its arbutin content.
Marjoram salve should not be administered to infants or small children.
Mode of Administration
Marjoram herb is used as an infusion for teas, mouthwashes and poultices (5% infusion). The oil is used in ointments and a few compound preparations.
To prepare a tea, pour 250 mL boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of Marjoram herb and strain after 5 minutes. An ointment is prepared by leaving 20 parts Marjoram herb to stand with 1 part ammonia and 10 parts spirit of wine for a few hours. It is then heated with 100 parts petroleum jelly in a water bath until the spirit of wine and ammonia have evaporated. Then the ointment is filtered (EB6).
Sip 1 to 2 cups of tea throughout the day.
5 to 10 drops, 1 tablet, or 5 to 10 globules 1 to 3 times a day or 1 mL injection solution sc twice weekly (HAB1).
Dried Marjoram herb may be stored for up to 2 years in airtight containers.