- Marjoram derives from the Latin word amaracum or Greek amarakos. Its reputation as an aphrodisiac in Roman literature may be due to its unrelated similarity to the Latin "amor." The Greeks and Romans dedicated it to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility and beauty. In weddings, it is used as garlands to symbolize love and honor; in death, it is a funerary herb used to promote restful peace.
- Name marjoram also derives from the Arabic marjamie, meaning incomparable.
Marjoram is a bushy half-hardy perennial sub-shrub, growing to a height of 1 to 2 feet, with descending, multibranched stems, the stems taking root as they touch the ground. Leaves are simple, opposite and stalked, elliptic, 10 to 13 millimeters long, exuding a fragrance when bruised. Flowers are small, purple or white, few to many, arranged in spikelets; Inflorescences with enlarged overlapping bracts.
- Cultivated in the Baguio area.
- Plant yields an essential oil, between 0.7 to 3.5 %.
- Aroma components from a bicyclic monoterpene alcohol, cis-sabinene hydrate, a-terpinene, 4-terpineol, a-terpineol, terpinenyl-4-acetate, and 1,8-cineol.
- Yields the compound eugenol, used as flavoring agent.
- Aerial parts yielded the presence of volatile oil, flavonoids, tannins, sterols and/or triterpenes. (19)
- Nutritive analysis of dried leaves per 100 g yields: (Principle) energy 271 cal, carbohydrates 60.56 g, total fat 7.04 g, cholesterol 0 mg, dietary fiber 40.3 g; (Vitamins) folate 274 µg, niacin 0.902 mg, pantothenic acid 0.209 mg, pyridoxine 1.190 mg, riboflavin 0.316 mg, thiamin 0.289 mg, vitamin A 8058 IU, vitamin C 51.4 mg, vitamin E 1.69 mg, vitamin K 621.7 µg; (Electrolytes) sodium 77 mg, potassium 1522 mg; (Minerals) calcium 1990 mg, copper 1.133 mg, iron 82.71 mg, magnesium 346 mg, manganese 5.433 mg, zinc 3.60 mg; (Phytonutrients) carotene-ß 4806 µg, cryptoxanthin-ß 70 µg, lutein-zeaxanthin 1895 µg. (31)
- Considered antiseptic, antidote, antispasmodic, digestive, decongestant, febrifuge, galactagogue, emmenagogue, sedating, stimulant, sudorific.
- A condiment, popular for flavoring heavy vegetables like legumes and cabbage, eggplant, pumpkin and zucchini.
- Leaves, flowers and stems used as essences for dressings, liquers, sauces, and vinegar.
- Used to flavor salads and meat dishes.
- Used for delicate fish dishes.
- No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Elsewhere, traditionally used to relieve muscle spasms, alleviate insomnia, nausea and headaches.
- Used as external application for sprains and bruises.
- Also used as emmenagogue.
- Leaf extract used to loosen phlegm.
- Oil used as toothache drops.
- Aromatherapy: The oil used for its soothing relief of muscle aches and pains and joint maladies.
- Cosmetics: Marjoram is an ingredient in skin creams, body lotions, gels and soaps.
- Perfumery: In Ancient Greece, women added the essential oil to perfume mixtures; also applied to perfume eyebrows and hair.
• Antimicrobial: Study tested the in-vitro microbicidal activity of the methanol extract of Origanum majorana tested against seven fungi and six bacteria. Results showed OM can be used as an effective herbal protectant against pathogenic bacteria and fungi. A high toxicity against the growth of Aspergillus niger was found. (1)
• Fumigant / Anti-Cockroach: Study was done comparing the toxicity of O majorana oil, its 41 monoterpenoids and 2 sesquiterpenoids compared to four commonly used insecticides against adult females of German cockroach Blattella germanica. The adulticidal activities of pulegone, camphor and verbenone were comparable to permethrin, greater than that of propoxur, less than deltamethrin and dichlorvos. Results suggest marjoram oil and the monoterpenoids merit further study as potential fumigants. (3)
• Increased Basal Gastric Acid and Pepsin Secretion: Study shows the marjoram contains some components that activate chief and parietal cells and increase basal acid and pepsin secretion. (4)
• Ovicidal / Adulticidal: Study evaluated the toxicity of essential oil from marjoran to eggs and adult females of susceptible KR-HL and dual malathion- and permethrin-resistant BR-HL strains of human head louse. Results showed certain monoterpenoids of the essential oil, particularly linalool, (-)-terpinen-4-ol and alpha--terpineol, merit further study as potential pediculicides and ovicides as fumigant with contact action. (5)
• Essential Oil / Antimicrobial: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of essential oils of O. vulgare and O. majorana. Both essential oils showed prominent inhibitory effect on all bacterial strains tested. (6)
• Apoptotic / Anti-Proliferative: The anti-proliferative activity of extracts was tested on human lymphoblastic leukemia cell line jurkat. A dose-dependent anti-proliferative effect was found. There was induction of apoptosis from an up-regulation of p53 protein levels and down-regulation of Bcl-2alpha. Results showed anti-proliferative effect and high antioxidant activity. (7)
• Benefits on Hormonal Profile of Women: Study evaluated the effects of marjoram tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Results showed beneficial effects of marjoram tea on the hormonal profile of PCOS women evidenced by improvement in insulin sensitivity and reduction of levels of adrenal androgens. (10)
• Essential Oil / SFE Extracts in Food Preservation: Study investigated O. majorana essential oil obtained by hydrodistillation and extracts obtained by solvent extraction with ethyl alcohol and supercritical fluid extract (SFE). SFE extracts showed significantly stronger antimicrobial activity against food borne fungi and bacteria compared to ethanolic extract. Extracts by SFE may be a role as flavoring and natural colorants as well as use as food preservatives and in cosmetic systems. (11)
• Beneficial Effects on Ethanol Toxicity: Study in male rats evaluated the effect of majoram volatile oil or grape seed extract on oral administration of ethanol for 10 weeks. Repeated intake of great amount of ethanol (10 cc/kbw, 25% v/v) caused fertility disturbances with low sperm count, impaired sperm motility and decreased serum testosterone level, together with histological alterations in the testis, liver, and grain. Co-administration of the extracts resulted in minimizing the effects of ethanol toxicity on male fertility, liver and brain tissues. The extracts showed potential use as herbal remedies for controlling oxidative damage. (14)
• Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition: Study screened 139 herbal spices in search of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which enhance cholinergic transmission through reduction of enzymatic degradation of ACh, are the only compounds approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's diseases (AD). Of the edible plants and spices, an ethanol extract of Origanum majorana showed the highest inhibitory effect on AChE in vitro. The urosolic acid of Origanum majorana inhibited AChE activity in a dose dependent and competitive/non-competitive type. Results demonstrated the urosolic acid of O. majorana is a potent AChE inhibitor in Alzheimer's Disease. (15)
• Inhibition of Platelet Adhesion, Aggregation and Secretion: Study investigated the inhibitory effects of methanol extracts of three herb spices on adhesion of activated platelet to laminin-coated plates, aggregation and protein secretion. Origanum majorana methanol extract at 200 mcg/ml demonstrated 40% inhibition of platelet adhesion and also affected self aggregation and protein secretion. (16)
• Antiproliferative / Apoptotic / Leukemia Cell Line / Antioxidant: Extracts from Origanum majorana were evaluated for antiproliferative activity on human lymphoblastic leukemia cell line Jurkat. Results showed dose-dependent anti-proliferative effect. There was induced of apoptosis via an up-regulation of p53 protein levels and down-regulation of Bcl-2alpha. Marjoram exhibited strong scavenging activity (SC50=0.03 mg dry weight). (17)
• Insecticidal / Essential Oil / Pediculus Humanus Capitis: Study evaluated the insecticidal activity of 54 plant essential oils against female Pediculus humanus capitis using direct contact and fumigation methods, compared with two commonly used pediculicides delta-phenothrin and pyrethrum. In fumigation tests at 0.25 mg/cm2, marjoram, together with three other herbs, were more effective in closed containers. Neither delta-phenothrin nor pyrethrum exhibited fumigant toxicity. (18)
• Antiulcerogenic: Study evaluated the antiulcerogenic activity of ethanol extract in hypothermic restrained-stress-, indomethacin-, necrotizing agents-induced ulcers and basal gastric acid secretion in pylorus ligated Shay rat model. Results showed significantly decreased incidence of ulcers, basal gastric secretion and acid output. Extract also replenished depleted gastric wall mucus and lowered the increase in malondialdehyde. Acute toxicity testing showed a large margin of safety. (19)
• Drug/Herb Interactions: Review reports on studies on marjoram (Origanum marjorana) on various drug and herb/supplement interactions. (13)
• Antibacterial / Essential Oils: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of Origanum majorana and O. vulgare essential oils against Staphylococcus aureus, S. coagulase negative, Enterobacter spp., Proteus spp., Acinetobacter spp., and Klebsiella spp. isolated from patients with conjunctivitis. Results showed prominent inhibitory effect of both essential oils on all bacterial strains. (20)
• Modulatory Against Cisplatin-Induced Dyslipidemia: Study evaluated the curative effect of Origanum majorana ethanolic extract on the lipid profile abnormalities induced by cisplatin in a male Wistar rat model. There was a decrease in total lipid, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol together with an increase in HDL. Results showed a hypolipidemic potential against cisplatin induced dyslipidemia and suggests that Origanum majorana might serve as a novel adjuvant therapy with cisplatin. (21)
• Anti-Diabetic / Hypolipidemic / Oil and Leaves: Study in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats showed the volatile oil and methanolic extract of leaves of Origanum majorana could be beneficial in the management of NIDDM and its associated lipid imbalance. (22)
• Sedative and Anti-Anxiety Effects: Study evaluated the sedative, pre-anesthetic, and anti-anxiety effects of Origanum majorana with diazepam in different groups of male Wistar rats. Results showed sedative and anti-anxiety effects possibly due to the flavonoids present in the extract with its effect on benzodiazepine receptor binding to GABA-A receptors. Origanum majorana extract at dose of 200 mg/kbw was significant compared to diazepam at does of 1.2 mg/kg. (23)
• Antispasmodic: Study evaluated the pharmacodynamic effects of Origanum majorana on isolated smooth muscles preparations of guinea pig's ileum and rat's colon. Results showed significant antispasmodic effect with a potential benefit for the treatment of colic in gastrointestinal disorders. (24)
• Cytotoxic / Membrane and DNA Damaging Effects / Human Cancer Cell Line / Essential Oil: Study of essential oil from Origanum majorana and its oxygenated monoterpene component linalook was tested on parental and epirubicin-resistant (drug resistant) human lung cancer cell lines (H1299). Results showed MO essential oil and linalool exhibited cytotoxic, membrane and DNA damaging effects. Results suggest further studies for its potential therapeutic application for human lung cancer. (25)
• Hepatoprotective / Essential Oil / Prellethrin-Induced Hepatotoxicity: Synthetic pyrethroids are a new major class of broad-spectrum insecticides. Pyrethroid insecticides are acute neutoxicants and prallethrein is the most popular Type 1 synthetic pyrethroid used for household insect pests such as mosquitoes, houseflies, and cockroaches. Prallethrin has been shown to cause oxidative damage and liver injury in male rats. Study evaluated the protective role of Origanum majorana essential oil against the adverse effects of exposure to prallethrine on oxidant/antioxidant status and liver dysfunction biomarkers in a rat model. Results showed co-administration of essential oil attenuated the toxic effect of prallethrin. (26)
• Renal Protective: Study in a diabetic rat model showed long term treatment of diabetic rats with Origanum majorana can partially protect the renal tissue via attenuation of oxidative stress and glomerular expansion. (27)
• Renal Protective / Leaves: Study evaluated the potential of Doash (Origanum majorana) leaf water extracts for antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects against known classes of mutagens. Results showed the tea extract can affect the mutagenicity of various structurally diverse promutagens including food borne carcinogen by decreasing P450-mediated activation. Daily intake of doash tea may protect against the conversion of promutagene to mutagene and scavenging carcinogen from environmental contact. (28)
• Anti-Colon Cancer: Study evaluated a O. majorana plant extract for anti-cancer effect on in vitro proliferation and DNA damage on human colon cancer HT-29 cell line. Results showed O. majorana inhibited growth of DT-29 cells by affecting cell viability. Extract also showed ability to cause DNA damage, cell cycle arrest and apoptotic death through activation of caspase 8 and 3 pathways. Results showed MO is an effective inhibitor of colon cancer progression. (29)
• Anti-Breast Cancer and Metastasis: Study has reported the anticancer activity of O. majorana by promoting cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of metastatic MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line. This study demonstrated that non-cytotoxic concentrations of O. majorana significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells as shown by wound healing and matrigel invasion assay. On chick embryo tumor growth assay, Origanum majorana was shown to promote inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Findings suggest a promising chemopreventive and therapeutic candidate that modulate breast cancer growth and metastasis. (30)
• Antiglycation / Antioxidant Properties / Antidiabetic: The development of AGE (advanced glycation end products) inhibitors is considered to have therapeutic potential in diabetic patients. Study investigated the effect of methanoic extract of leaves of O. majorana on AGEs formation. Treatment of STZ-induced diabetic mice with OM and glibenclamide for 28 days showed beneficial effects on renal metabolic abnormalities including glucose level and AGEs formation. OM alleviated oxidative stress under diabetic conditions through inhibition of lipid peroxidation, preventing and/or delaying the onset of renal damage. (32)
• Antimicrobial / Antiprotozoal: Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of sweet marjoram fractions of in vitro activity against 20 gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, six candida species and a singe protozoan species Pentatrichomonas hominis. An n-hexane contract showed highest antibacterial activity, inhibiting eight out of nine S. aureus strains. The isolates were also active against three out of six Candida sp. strains used, and the ethanolic ammonia extract reduced the number of viable P. hominis trophozoites. (33)
• Anticonvulsant: Study of aerial parts of Origanum majorana showed anticonvulsant activity using pentylentetrazole (PTZ) and maximal electroshock (MES) models. It is possible ursolic acid may be responsible for the anticonvulsant activity. (34)
- Essential oils and other marjoram products in the cybermarkets.