Origanum majorana L. (Labiatae)
Sweet marjoram is an important aromatic plant used in cookery as a spice and condiment to flavoure of salad dressings, vegetables, legumes, oils, sweets, drinks. As a medicinal plant, sweet marjoram has traditionally been used in stimulant and tonic preparations, in the treatment of diseases related to the nervous system as an antiepileptic and sedative drug. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of anxiety, bronchial complaints, insomnia, minor digestive upsets, painful menstruation, tension headaches as well as for coughs and other respiratory ailments.
Botanical description and occurrence:
Sweet marjoram is a cold sensitive perennial herb or under shrub native to Mediterranean Basin. Its creeping rootstock produces a square, downy, purplish stem with opposite, stalked, ovate leaves. Leaves are smooth due to the presence of numerous hairs. Purple, 2-lipped flowers grow in terminal clusters. Inflorescences have enlarged overlapping bracts. Sweet marjoram is propagated by seeds.
Why to have the plant in your garden:
Inconspicuous marjoram can be a treasure of the garden. As culinary additives, the leaves, soft stems and flowers - thanks to sweet pine and citrus flavors - add essence to dressings, syrups, liqueurs, vinegar as well as sauces. Cosmetically, marjoram is used in skin cream, body lotion, shaving gel, and bath soaps. As this is a plant that loses its aroma after drying, it is better to use this herb fresh, from own garden - it is important to remember that the essence promotes relaxation of the muscles and for this reason it is best not to exceed the dose. Sweet marjoram has a more delicate flavour than the closely related oregano (Origanum vulgare), and is best when used fresh and only added towards the end of cooking.
Dr. Agnieszka Sekara
Links to scientific articles (if it is possible):
Beltrame J.M., Angnes R.A., Rovigatti Chiavelli R.U., da Costa W.F., da Rosa M.F., da Silva Lobo V., Pomini A.M. 2013. Photodegradation of essential oil from marjoram (Origanum majorana L.) studied by GC-MS and UV-VIS spectroscopy. Rev. Latinoamer. Quím. 41(2): 81-88;
Vági E., Rapavi E., Hadolin M., Vásárhelyiné Perédi K.,‖Balázs A., Blázovics A., Simándi B. 2005. Phenolic and triterpenoid antioxidants from Origanum majorana L. herb and extracts obtained with different solvents. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53(1): 17-21;