The holidays can bring about different feelings for different people. Relationships, events, and expectations can cultivate experiences that either make you eager for this time of year, or hesitant.
If you’re feeling a bit glum this season, having some herbal remedies on hand might help. But not just any herb will make the cut – look for herbs that lighten the mood and uplift your spirit, like marjoram for example. Giving this special herb a place in your home may help keep things merry and bright.
What Is Marjoram
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a small, bushy green plant that grows in parts of the Mediterranean, Africa and Western Asia. Also known as sweet marjoram or knotted marjoram, this member of the mint family can grow up to 24 inches tall. It doesn’t like cold weather though, so keep that in mind if you live in northern regions of the US.
The leaves on this plant are oval and paired opposite each other, with tiny hairs all around. The leaves contain about 2% essential oils, which are extracted and used for both medicinal and aromatherapy purposes (1).
Marjoram is used in culinary dishes as well as the medicine cabinet. In ancient times, it was hailed by both the Greek and Romans as the “herb of happiness”. With its sweet smell and pretty flowers, it was used in floral arrangements and headdresses during weddings, and if it was seen spouting from a grave it was thought that the soul of the deceased had finally found happiness (2).
When it comes to food, what is the spice marjoram used for? One of the most popular uses is as a garnish in meat dishes, soups, and salads.
It can definitely be used fresh, but most often the leaves are dried. Both fresh and dried leaves can be turned into teas and extracts. You can find different strengths online or at health stores.
Medicinally, different parts of the marjoram plant have been used to treat varying ailments around the world. In Iran, the leaves have been traditionally used for migraines, cataracts, weak vision, and fatigue and ear pain. In Turkey, its essential oils have been used for asthma and indigestion (3).
So far, marjoram works great as a garnish as well as provides some notable health benefits. But what kind of benefits can it provide?
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Antioxidants are important in regulating normal metabolic processes and keeping inflammation in the body down. Carvacrol, one of the compounds found in marjoram, has been observed to have therapeutic effects, especially in the realm of dental health and how it pertains to diabetes (5).
- Antimicrobial properties: Not only do viruses and bacteria make you sick, but fungal infections can wreak havoc on your health. Research has shown great promise on the use of marjoram essential oils in inhibiting the function of different fungal strains, as well as keeping harmful gut bacteria at bay (6).
- Irregular menstruation: If you or someone you know suffers from irregular cycles, marjoram may help. Taking an extract or drinking tea made from the leaves seems to help regulate the hormones responsible for telling the uterus to shed the lining. This helps stimulate menstrual flow and relieve pain associated with that time of the month (9).
- PCOS: Because marjoram offers powerful aid for hormone regulation, it may help those with PCOS as well. One study gave 25 women marjoram tea to drink every day for 30 days. At the end of the month, blood tests showed lower adrenal androgens and improved insulin resistance levels (7).
- Digestion: Episodes of stomach upset are hardly pleasant. In the case of certain food-borne pathogens or ulcers, taking marjoram can help. Studies confirm that the calming properties found in the leaves can help alleviate some digestion problems (8).
There are some things you may want to consider before taking marjoram supplements, extracts or essential oils. Don’t take if you:
- Have blood clotting issues: There is risk of increased bleeding, especially if you’re currently taking a blood thinner medication (3).
- Are pregnant: There is often a lot we don’t know when it comes to remedies and medications during pregnancy. Because marjoram does have an effect on hormones, it’s not recommended for pregnancy women (4).
- Are taking other medications: If you’re diabetic and taking insulin, check with your doctor before adding a lot of marjoram to your diet. Due to the complex nature of this disease, some studies have shown it to be potentially unsafe (10).
An herb that has been thought to bring happiness, the marjoram plant is one of both beauty and power. Used for thousands of years, it has helped make food taste better and people feel better.
Studies show that marjoram has some incredible health benefits, from anti-inflammation to hormone regulation. It could very well be part of the answer for many looking for natural health solutions.
That said, take precautions if you’re pregnant, diabetic or taking other forms of medication. If you’re currently on blood thinning medication, caution is also advised.
Have you experimented with marjoram yet, whether in the kitchen or in your medicine cabinet? Add a little extra cheer with this happy, medicinal herb.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author