Marjoram Essential Oil
Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a perennial herb originally cultivated in Turkey and across the Mediterranean. This bushy, fragrant shrub has pale pink or white flowers, and is traditionally used as a culinary herb in meat and vegetable dishes, soups, sauces, and salads.
Marjoram also been used historically as a medicinal herb, and was employed as a muscle relaxant, pain reliever, and digestive aid. In recent years, scientific studies have been conducted on marjoram essential oil to further understand its therapeutic benefits.
To make the essential oil, the leaves of the plant are steam distilled into a fragrant milky-white or pale yellow oil. Marjoram essential oil is used extensively in aromatherapy and has been described as having a warm, woodsy aroma that stimulates relaxation.
Marjoram Essential Oil Uses
As a staple ingredient in aromatherapy and aromatic massages, marjoram essential oil has also been used to relieve a variety of everyday ailments. Here are some of the most common, modern-day applications for marjoram essential oil.
Marjoram essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy treatments both on its own and in combination with other essential oils. It has been used to promote relaxation, emotional invigoration, and memory stimulation.4
Add 3-6 drops marjoram oil to a diffuser, or to a pot of boiling water, preferably in an enclosed room to facilitate inhalation. Marjoram oil is commonly used together with basil, bergamot, fennel, lavender, lemon, rosemary or tea tree essential oils.
For those suffering from the common cold or seasonal allergies, inhalation of marjoram essential oil is also said to help clear stuffed sinuses and ease sore throats. Add a few drops of oil to a bowl of hot water, and lean over the bowl with a towel placed over the back of your head. Inhale for temporary relief of coughs and congestion.
Marjoram essential oil has been traditionally used in aromatherapy to treat insomnia. Add 3-4 drops of marjoram essential oil to an aromatherapy diffuser in the room you will be sleeping in to aid in both falling and staying asleep.
If you are suffering from digestive issues or stomach cramps, dilute 2 drops of marjoram essential oil into 1 Tbsp. carrier oil, such as apricot kernel, olive or sesame oil. Massage the combined oil onto your stomach for relief of cramping, bloating and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Find relief from aching and sore muscles through topical application of marjoram essential oil. Add 2-3 drops of marjoram essential oil into 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil. Gently massage the oils onto sore muscles to provide relief.
To subdue stress and anxiety, apply a single drop of marjoram essential oil to a fingertip and massage it into the back of your neck. It has been reported that the oil’s woodland aroma promotes relaxation, and almost immediate temporary relief upon application.
Benefits of Marjoram Essential Oil
As the demand for natural alternatives to antibiotics, chemicals and everyday drugs grows more and more, researchers have increasingly turned to the natural properties found in essential oils. Preliminary studies indicate marjoram essential oil has intriguing therapeutic potential.
Several scientific studies have assessed that marjoram essential oil has a range of antimicrobial properties. In a recent in vitro study, researchers concluded that marjoram essential oil was just as effective at reducing microbial growth on vegetables as solutions commonly used today. And in some cases, marjoram essential oil inhibited 15% more bacteria growth than traditional alcohol and chlorine-based disinfection methods.5
Another in vitro study identified limonene, linalool, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, and linalyl acetate as the compounds in the essential oil that act as the antimicrobial agents, inhibiting the growth of harmful germs and bacteria.6
In vitro and animal studies have indicated that marjoram essential oil has antioxidant and antimutagenic effects. A 2013 study investigated marjoram essential oil for its ability to reduce side effects caused by exposure to toxic pesticides. Prallethrin is a popular insecticide found in mosquito repellant mats and has been noted for its mutagenic chemicals, which can promote the development of cancer.2
Researchers found that subjects that were exposed to prallethrin and ingested marjoram essential oil, showed a 54.54% reduction in chromosomal aberrations, compared to the control group. Chromosomal aberrations are the imperfect copying of chromosomes during cell reproduction and can be found in the bone marrow. They are commonly associated with cancerous cells and tumor growth.2
The study also found that antioxidant status was replenished faster and serum marker enzymes were significantly more protected from the damaging effects of the Prallethrin treatment.2
In vitro testing has also found that the main components of marjoram essential oil (Terpinen-4-ol, sabinene hydrate, and γ-terpinene) act as antioxidants, which help eliminate free radicals in the body. Free radicals can potentially damage cells and cause chromosomal aberrations that are potentially cancerous.1
Note: While this data is promising, further scientific research is required. Never ingest marjoram essential oil or use essential oils as a replacement for conventional therapies.
Menstrual Cramping Relief
A randomized, double-blind trial investigated the effects of an essential oil blend of marjoram, lavender and clary sage essential oil on menstrual cramping pain. The essential oil blend was diluted and applied via aromatherapy massage. The results indicate a 25% reduction in pain from those who underwent the aromatherapy treatment for primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping).
The study suggests that the compounds of linalyl acetate, linalool, eucalyptol, and β-caryophyllene present in the essential oils should be further studied to ascertain their direct effects on the body in relation to pain management and relief.3
Side Effects of Marjoram Essential Oil
Marjoram essential oil is generally considered safe for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Marjoram is a known allergen for some people and is not recommended for use on small children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the use of marjoram essential oil.
Never ingest marjoram essential oil, unless under the strict supervision of a healthcare provider. Always be sure to read and follow the product label.
Where to Buy Marjoram Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through
expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Mossa, A. T. H., & Nawwar, G. (2011). Free radical scavenging and antiacetylcholinesterase activities of origanum majorana L. essential oil. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 30(10), 1501-1513. doi:10.1177/0960327110391686. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21239482
- Mossa Abdel-Tawab H., Refaie Amel A., Ramadan Amal, and Bouajila Jalloul. Antimutagenic effect of Origanum majorana L. essential oil against prallethrin-induced genotoxic damage in rat bone marrow cells. Journal of Medicinal Food. December 2013, 16(12): 1101-1107. doi:1089/jmf.2013.0006
- Ou, M., Hsu, T., Lai, A. C., Lin, Y., & Lin, C. (2012). Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized, double‐blind clinical trial. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, 38(5), 817-822. doi:1111/j.1447-0756.2011.01802.x
- Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601-611. doi:1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007
- Walker, J. F., Santos, P. d. S., Schmidt, C. A., Bittencourt, Thereza Cristina Calmon de, & Guimarães, A. G. (2016). Antimicrobial activity of marjoram (origanum majorana ) essential oil against the multidrug-resistant salmonella enterica serovar schwarzengrund inoculated in vegetables from organic farming: ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF MARJORAM. Journal of Food Safety, 36(4), 489-496. doi:1111/jfs.12266.
- Šipailieneė, A., Venskutonis, P. R., Baranauskienė, R., & Šarkinas, A. (2006). Antimicrobial activity of commercial samples of thyme and marjoram oils. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 18(6), 698-703. doi:1080/10412905.2006.9699210.