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Origanum majorana

Origanum majorana

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Sweet marjoram, moench, french marjoram, knotted marjoram

Original Habitat

It is thought that Origanum majorana originated from Asia. However, now it is cultivated throughout Europe and the Mediterranean and is cultivated as a specialty plant in other parts of the world. This plant is a perennial and grows up to one metre. It is often confused with plants from other species including Thymus. O. majorana grows well in dry rocky areas.

Plant Part Used

Flowering tops


The essential oil of O. majorana is found in numerous foods and beverages. It is used as perfumes for its woody, warm fragrance.[1][2] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is used as a single oil and in more complex formulations.


The essential oil of O. maforana is steam distilled from the flowering tops of the plant and sometimes from the herb. The thin oil is yellow to greenish-yellow with an earthy, spicy scent and low undertones.[2]

Chemical Constituents

Monoterpenes (40%): Sabinene, myrcene, alpha and beta terpinene
Monoterpenols (50%): Terpinene 1 ol 4, Thuyanol terpene para cymene [2][3][4]

Medicinal Uses

Antibacterial ++
Potent nerve tonic (hypotensive, vasodilator) +++
Analgesic ++

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Antioxidant- An animal study examined the antioxidant effects of marjoram essential oil along with grapeseed extract in ethanol induced toxicity. The results showed that the co-administration of ethanol and the two treatments reduced the negative effects seen with ethanol. The authors concluded that the grapeseed and the marjoram essential oil together were an effective antioxidant.[5]

Another animal study observed the effects of marjoram oil on lead toxicity in mice. The administration of the oil on these mice showed a decrease of micronucleus and chromosomal fragments, therefore showing strong antioxidant activity. It was concluded that the oil could improve function of the liver and kidneys in lead toxicity in mice.[6]

Antimicrobial- When tested against other essential oils, marjoram essential oil showed some antimicrobial activity against two forms of Escherichia coli.[7]

Insecticide- O. majorana oil was studied against cockroaches and compared to several other conventional insecticides.  The results showed that the oil could be a potential fumigant.[8]

Traditional Use

Tachycardia, hypertension +++
Lung problems (dysphenia) +++
Digestive problems (ulcers, gastralgia, colitis) +++
Sexual problems (erethism, obsessions) +++
Neuropsychic (anxiety, stress, feeling oppressed, etc.) +++
Neuralgia, rheumatic pains +++
Respiratory and digestive infections ++
Spasmophilia ++

 There are currently no human clinical studies to support the Traditional use of O. majorana oil.

Contraindications and Precautions

As noted previously, this oil is often confused with oils from other plants making proper identification of the oil critical.

 None known at recommended levels.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

2.     Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H. Common Fragrance and Flavor Materials: Third Edition. New York: Wiley-VCH; 1997.

3.     Novak J. Ratios of cis- and trans-Sabinene Hydrate in Origanum majorana L. and Origanum microphyllum (Bentham) Vogel. Biochem Syst Ecol. 2000 Aug 1;28(7):697-704.

4.     Jelani N. Essential oil composition of Origanum majorana leaves. Revue des Régions Arides. 2007:190-193.

5.     El-Ashmawy IM. Effects of marjoram volatile oil and grape seed extract on ethanol toxicity in male rats. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. Nov 2007;101(5):320-327.

6.     El-Ashmawy IM. Protective effect of volatile oil, alcoholic and aqueous extracts of Origanum majorana on lead acetate toxicity in mice. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. Oct 2005;97(4):238-243.

7.     Peñalver P. Antimicrobial activity of five essential oils against origin strains of the Enterobacteriaceae family. APMIS. Jan 2005;113(1):1-6.

8.     Jang YS. Vapor phase toxicity of marjoram oil compounds and their related monoterpenoids to Blattella germanica (Orthoptera: Blattellidae). J Agric Food Chem. 5 Oct 2005;53(20):7892-7898.

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