The sweet scent of marjoram has been known since the ancient times, and the herb itself has been dedicated as an offering to the gods. Sweet marjoram oil in particular has found its use not just in adding flavor to culinary dishes, but also for its health benefits.
What exactly is sweet marjoram oil? Let’s talk about its origins, source, and how it can help you with your health and well-being.
Origins and history of marjoram oil
With its warm aroma and delicate flavor, sweet marjoram is a favorite in various culinary dishes from soups to sauces. Its history, however, dates back to the ancient times where it was considered a prized herb by many different cultures.
To the Greeks and Romans, sweet marjoram was a symbol of happiness. It was known for its healing properties and was used in fragrances, cosmetics and even as an antidote to poison. Because of its sweet scent, beneficial properties, and its cheerful appearance on hillsides where it grew, it came to be known as the “joy of the mountains.” All of these deemed it worthy as an offering to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, pleasure, and beauty. Other accounts though say that the goddess herself grew the herb. Marjoram was commonly used during weddings to crown young couples and wish them love and happiness in their married life.
A number of well-known ancient naturalists recorded marjoram’s use in medicinal preparations. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek physician and herbalist known for his contributions to medicine, used marjoram in mixtures for nervous system disorders. Pliny the elder, a prominent Roman scholar of his time, recommended marjoram to treat flatulence and stomach conditions.
In Egypt, marjoram was used to heal various ailments and was added to various formulations like ointments, balms and potions. It was dedicated to Osiris, the god of the underworld, and used during funeral ceremonies to send off loved ones. Its warm, comforting nature also encouraged its use during grieving.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, marjoram was highly prized for its fragrance. Sachets and powders made from marjoram were popularly used to scent various items, such as being added to baths and washing water for its sweet perfume. Ladies also used the herb to add fragrance to flower bouquets.
Later on in Renaissance times, the herb was widely grown in pots and used for medicinal purposes. Sachets perfumed with marjoram were used to alleviate chest infections. When mixed with honey, it was a known remedy for cough. It was also used to treat liver conditions like jaundice when applied externally as a poultice.
One of the first herbal books in England named Banckes’ Herbal printed in 1527 contained various references to marjoram. It was known as an herb with “the virtue of comforting, loosing, and cleansing” and was recommended for conditions of the digestive and nervous system.
There are many other mentions of marjoram’s medicinal properties. During the seventeenth century, a famous Danish physician named Fabricius successfully used it to cure a high-ranking soldier from rheumatic pains and a cold, and was said to be rewarded with 200 gold coins for this. In 1720 in France, the powdered herb was recommended for inhalation to ease fatigue and strengthen the brain. It was also mixed with wine and drank to promote circulation and help the nerves. In 1877, French physician FJ Cazin known for his notable contributions to herbal medicine mentions the value of marjoram for conditions like dizziness, epilepsy, loss of memory and paralysis, in his published work “Practical and reasoned treaty of Indigenous Medicinal Plants.”
Marjoram’s popularity since ancient history and its value as a medicinal herb has made its essential oil largely used until today for a variety of ailments. Marjoram is native to the Mediterranean region, Tunisia and Egypt, but is now cultivated in many regions across the globe for large-scale production of its sweet, aromatic essential oil.
Source and composition of marjoram oil
There are a number of species of marjoram, but the most widely used is sweet marjoram, also known as knotted marjoram. Its essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of Origanum majorana, from the prominent herb family Lamiaceae. Sweet marjoram oil, which is the oil discussed throughout this article, has a pale yellow-green hue with a warm, spicy, woody aroma and should not be confused with Spanish marjoram oil which has a red-orange color.
Marjoram is a close cousin of oregano, so it’s no wonder that they yield essential oils with slightly similar characteristics, yet marjoram is definitely the sweeter and gentler of the two. Its
oil contains sabinene, a-terpinene, p-cymene, y-terpinene and several other terpenes, which are the bioactive compounds mainly responsible for its health benefits.
What are some benefits of marjoram oil?
Aside from being popular in sauces, marinades and stews, marjoram oil’s warm, sweet, woody scent has made it known throughout history for bringing relief and comfort for numerous ailments. Its antioxidant properties along with other bioactive compounds make it an effective yet gentle oil that can be used alone or blended with other oils. Whether for tummy problems, nervous disorders, or cardiovascular health, marjoram oil has a valuable place in your medicine cabinet and in your kitchen too!
Specific benefits of marjoram oil
1.) It is a digestive aid
Marjoram has been used for digestive ailments since the early times. The scent of the oil itself can promote salivary gland function, which jump starts food digestion in the mouth. This is probably one of the reasons why marjoram has been a favorite herb added to numerous cuisines. Marjoram oil also promotes secretion of digestive juices and bile, thus helping the stomach efficiently break down food. Additionally, it also stimulates peristaltic movement in the digestive tract, thus facilitating digestion. You can add a drop or two of marjoram oil to dishes as an alternative to using the herb itself
2.) It helps relieve tension
Having a hectic day? The scent of marjoram has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, which helps ease tension and stress. It also helps for anxiety, anger and sadness. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, try inhaling a drop or two of marjoram oil from a personal inhaler or from a handkerchief. You can also diffuse it in your room or add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage on temples. Its warm, comforting aroma is sure to make you feel lighter and happier afterward.
3.) It helps manage PMS and menopause symptoms
Because of its ability to balance hormones in women, marjoram oil can help relieve the bothersome symptoms that come with PMS and menopause. The cramping, hot flashes and feeling irritable can be eased by inhaling marjoram oil or diluting with a
carrier and massaging on the abdomen. You can also add a few drops in your bathwater to help uplift your mood and prevent feeling blue and irritable.
4.) It boosts cardiovascular health
Marjoram oil can help regulate blood pressure, especially for those at risk for or are suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions. Inhaling the oil has been found to keep sympathetic nervous system activity in check. This system is a part of the body’s nervous system that has some influence over the narrowing of blood vessels. Reducing this activity helps in vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels, which in turn causes less strain on the heart and decreases blood pressure. So if you’ve just been through events or scenarios that trigger an increase in blood pressure, or if you’ve taken your blood pressure and its higher than normal, sit down, take a break and inhale some marjoram oil.
5.) It aids in treating PCOS and other menstrual irregularities
Women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and menstrual irregularities can benefit from regular use of marjoram oil. Such conditions, especially PCOS, usually result from an excess of androgens (the male hormone) in women. Recent studies have found that marjoram can reduce androgen levels in women suffering from PCOS. Marjoram has also been used in traditional medicine to treat irregular and painful menstruation by effectively restoring hormonal balance. You can take marjoram oil internally by diluting one drop in 4 fluid ounces of liquid (about half a cup).
6.) It’s useful for pain relief
Marjoram oil can help reduce the pain associated with muscle soreness, headaches, and inflamed joints, as well as other pain symptoms that come with colds, fever and inflammation. Because of its warm, soothing effect, massaging it over painful areas can help ease any discomfort.
7.) It helps relieve flatulence and stomach discomfort
Gas pain can be very bothersome and even painful, but taking a warm cup of diluted marjoram oil (a drop in 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid) can help handle flatulence. Marjoram oil, when taken internally, can facilitate downward movement of gases trapped in the stomach. It can also relieve stomach discomfort due to nausea, vomiting and other related stomach disorders. You can also massage the abdominal area with marjoram oil diluted in a carrier oil, as its warming sensation can help relieve gas pain this way.
8.) It promotes sleep and relaxation
If you’re having difficulty calming your nerves and thoughts before going to bed, a few drops of marjoram oil in your diffuser or evening bath can help. Its ability to relax the nervous system makes it a useful aid to fight off insomnia and make your sleep more restful. For an even more relaxing blend, mix it with some clary sage or lavender.
9.) It acts as an antispasmodic
Spasms, or sudden, involuntary muscle contractions, can occur in many different parts of the body and can cause pain and discomfort. With its relaxing effect, marjoram oil can help relieve these spasms and the pain that comes with them. Muscle spasms in the limbs, neck or back can be relieved by massaging with the diluted oil, while respiratory spasms such as cough can be eased via inhalation. Marjoram oil can also help relieve convulsions, cramps, and intestinal spasms.
10.) It can help control Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is among the most common diseases worldwide, and is mainly aggravated by an unhealthy lifestyle. Marjoram has recently been studied and it extracts were found to block certain processes in the body that cause diabetes, particularly playing a role in increasing insulin sensitivity. This means that marjoram can make the body more able to manage blood sugar better. Taking marjoram oil in you tea or adding it to food regularly can help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes.
11.) It works as a mild diuretic
A diuretic is a substance that increases the amount and frequency of urination. This is useful in conditions where fluid is retained in the body such as in edema and bloating. Taking marjoram oil internally with a cup of tea can help flush out excess water, sodium, and uric acid from the body. Taking a diuretic is also beneficial for those suffering from high blood pressure since removing excess water from the body can ease the strain on the heart and blood vessels. One important thing to note is that if you don’t have bloating or fluid accumulation, you should drink a lot of water when taking in marjoram to prevent water loss.
12.) It helps prevent and heal gastric ulcers
Marjoram oil’s digestive properties can also help lower your chances of getting ulcers. Because it promotes proper secretion of gastric juices and bile, it helps maintain the right balance of acidity in the stomach. Studies on animals have also found that marjoram extract was able to restore depleted gastric wall mucus, which plays a big role in prevention and treatment of ulcers.
13.) It can help stop snoring
Snoring during sleep can be very bothersome, especially of course for the partners of those who snore. Many people have found that marjoram oil is quite useful to ease their snoring, possibly due to its antispasmodic activity. Its ability to support the respiratory system may also contribute to this property. A room mist or chest rub containing marjoram oil can be used regularly to aid in achieving a snore-less yet quality sleep.
14.) It keeps wounds from infection
Because of its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, marjoram oil can be used to promote faster wound healing and fight off any bacteria that could cause infection. You can add it to a balm together with other wound-healing essential oils for application to cuts and scrapes.
15.) It offers relief from phlegm and other respiratory conditions
Marjoram oil’s soothing properties can be useful in cases of cough, colds and congestion. It can help expel phlegm and mucus from the throat and sinuses, and can ease coughing and an itchy throat. It may also help relieve certain asthma symptoms and help prevent spasms in the airways. For effective relief from a cold or other cases of phlegm buildup, add about 2 to 3 drops to a basin of hot water. Inhale the steam and oil for about 10 minutes with a towel over your head. If a persistent, itchy cough is bothering you, you can apply diluted marjoram oil to the throat and chest area for relief. For relief of asthma symptoms, you can follow the recipe for our asthma chest rub below!
Application tips for marjoram oil
There are so many ways to take advantage of marjoram oil’s warming and soothing benefits. Here are some basic ideas on how you can use this oil for treating various conditions and uplifting emotional health.
When feeling stressed and tense, rub a few drops of the diluted oil to the back of your neck to loosen up any tension.
Add to your favorite massage oil blend to use after a workout or any strenuous physical activity. This helps relieve muscle soreness and also promotes blood circulation.
Add to your bathwater to ease aches and pains, and to loosen up congestion associated with a cold. When added to a warm bath in the evening, marjoram oil can also calm your mood and help you sleep better.
To ease a migraine headache, massage a few drops of the diluted oil to your temples and to the back of your ears.
Whenever you want to wind down your day, load a few drops of marjoram oil into your diffuser and inhale the relaxing aroma.
For painful menstrual cramps, massage the dilute oil on your abdomen using circular motions to warm up the area and ease the pain.
Marjoram oil recipes
Soothing relief bath salts
- 12 drops marjoram EO
- 10 drops eucalyptus oil
- 15 drops lavender oil
- 1/2 cup Epsom salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Mix the oils with the milk in a small container.
- Dissolve the Epsom salt in your warm bathwater while the bath is running.
- Add the milk and oil mixture to the bath and stir to mix it in.
- Climb into the bath and have a long soothing soak to relieve muscle cramps, body aches, and even menstrual cramps.
Vapor therapy blend for colds and congestion
- 2 drops marjoram EO
- 2 drops eucalyptus EO
- 2 drops Corsican pine EO
- 2 drops lemon EO
- 1 drop thyme EO
- 1 drop rosemary EO
- Blend all the essential oils together.
- Prepare a basin with hot, steaming water.
- Pour in the essential oil blend and stir.
- Inhale the vapors slowly, taking deep breaths through the nose and mouth, with a towel draped over your head. Make sure to close your eyes as some of the oils may cause them to sting.
Calming bedtime linen spray
- 15 drops marjoram EO
- 15 drops lavender EO
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Mix together the oils and the baking soda in a clean, dry bowl.
- Add this to the water and mix well.
- Pour into a spray container and spray on linens and sheets for easier winding down and better quality of sleep.
Cramps away menstrual relief
- 20 drops marjoram EO
- 20 drops clary sage EO
- 5 drops ginger EO
- 10 drops geranium EO
- 3 drops cinnamon EO
- 10 ml fractionated coconut oil or other carrier oil
- 10 ml roller bottle
- Mix together all the essential oils.
- Add the fractionated coconut oil or the carrier oil of your choice.
- Mix together to blend well.
- Pour into a roller bottle. Massage in circular motions on the lower abdomen for relief from painful menstrual cramps.
Asthma relief kiddie chest rub (for children ages 5 upwards)
- 3 drops marjoram EO
- 6 drops geranium EO
- 3 drops frankincense EO
- 3 drops lavender EO
- 20 ml jojoba oil
- Mix together all the essential oils.
- Blend in portions with jojoba oil.
- Store in a sealed container. Rub on the chest, back and neck to help ease bronchospasms and other asthma symptoms. (Note that this is a supportive treatment and is not intended to replace any anti-asthma medications)
Anti-snore chest rub
- 5 drops marjoram EO
- 5 drops eucalyptus
- 7 drops lavender
- 3 drops sandalwood EO
- 1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil or other carrier oil
- Mix together all the essential oils.
- Blend in with fractionated coconut oil or the carrier oil of your choice.
- Store in a sealed container. Briskly rub on small amounts onto the chest, about 15-30 minutes before bedtime. Take deep calming breaths while applying and create a relaxing room atmosphere.
Massage blend for constipation
- 2 drops marjoram EO
- 1 drop black pepper EO
- 1 drop lavender EO
- 1 tablespoon almond or grapeseed oil
- Blend all the essential oils together.
- Mix with almond or grapeseed oil.
- Massage onto the shoulders and back. Then massage onto the lower abdomen with circular clockwise movements to encourage bowel movement.
Decongestant vapor rub
- 15 drops marjoram EO
- 15 drops rosemary EO
- 15 drops lemon EO
- 15 drops eucalyptus EO
- 3 tablespoons cocoa or shea butter
- 4 tablespoons grated beeswax
- 7 tablespoons coconut oil
- Place beeswax in a double boiler and melt.
- When melted, add in the shea or cocoa butter along with the coconut oil.
- Mix together and allow to melt.
- Remove from heat and add in each of the essential oils, stirring well after each addition.
- Pour into a wide mouth jar or tin can with a lid and allow to cool.
- You can apply this rub to relieve congestion, colds, cough, and flu symptoms. Dab under the nostrils or rub onto the chest and take in deep breaths.
Things to keep in mind when using marjoram oil
As with all essential oils, safety should always be a concern before use. Though rare, some people with sensitive skin may experience itching, stinging, redness or other forms of skin irritation with the application of marjoram oil. It’s best to first test a small amount on the inside of your forearm to check for any allergic reactions to the oil.
People with medical conditions like epilepsy should first ask their physician or health care provider if the oil is safe to use. Pregnant women should also avoid using marjoram oil since it can alter the balance of hormones during pregnancy.
Remember that it’s always best to dilute any essential oil before using. Marjoram oil is safe to use internally, however, it should be diluted with at least 4 ounces of liquid (half a cup) for every drop of the oil.
Marjoram oil can blended with other oils to increase its potency when used for various purposes. Its sweet, herbaceous scent goes well with lavender, coriander, nutmeg, helichrysum, cypress, chamomile, cedarwood, bergamot, thyme, tea tree, sandalwood, lemongrass and eucalyptus.
Marjoram oil is one of the most gentle, comforting oils and is great for all kinds of aches, pains and various congestive and spasmodic ailments and blends well with other oils.
We hope that you found this article informative and useful. Do share your thoughts, questions and suggestions in the comments below!