Close cousins - Oregano and Marjoram herbal monograph

in Natural Medicine2 months ago (edited)

Oregano in flower.

Common names: Oregano: Wild Marjoram, Marjoram: Sweet Marjoram, Pot Marjoram, Niu Zhi

Taxonomic name: Origanum vulgare, Origanum majorana

Family: Lamiaceae

Related herbs: Mints, Basil, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary

Area of origin: Mediterranean

Parts used: leaves and flowers, oil

Can be used for: Upset stomachs, colic, loss of appetite, fungal infections, colds and flu

Actions: carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, disinfectant, diuretic, emmenagogue, sedative, tonic, rubefacient, vermifuge, cleanser, anti-microbial, antiseptic

Organs/Systems: Digestive, Nervous, Respiratory, Skin

Meridians: Spleen, Heart, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Liver

Taste: pungent, warm, spicy

Tissue states: cold, depressed

Energetics: warming, stimulating. Clears heat and damp

Some of the healing constituents: volatile oil, thymol, carvacrol, dipentene, tannins, resins, sterol, flavonoids, linalool, hydroquinone, sabinene, vitamins A, B6, B9, C, K

Warnings: None


Origanum majorana, is an sprawling perennial member of the Lamiaceae family. Plants can grow to be one to two feet in height and can spread an equally wide. It has fragrant, gray-green in color, ovate leaves that are hairy and opposite on a hairy stem. Tiny, tubular flowers that are white or pale pink bloom in clusters. Origanum vulgare looks very similar and I tell it apart from O. majorana by its pink flowers.

Medicinal uses

This is a good opportunity to show how closely related herbs have been found to have subtle differences in use as remedies.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) and Marjoram (Origanum majorana) are two, very closely related plants, coming from the same Genus. They’re so close that many people don’t worry about the difference. Personally, I find Oregano a bit more pungent than Marjoram, but there are many who differ on that point.

Both are used herbally for states of sluggishness or inactivity in tissues. Herbalists call that a state of ‘depression’. Their warming and drying properties help tone tissues and restore function. This is where they subtly differ, as the sweeter taste of Marjoram makes it a slightly better tonic and restorative than Oregano.

They are great for respiratory infections such as cold and flus. This is another area of subtle difference, Marjoram is helpful for conditions with wheezing, mucus and irritable cough, whereas Oregano is better for colds marked by chills and shivering.


Marjoram in flower

Both can help settle upset stomachs, I think because the oils in the plants work on contact with stomach linings. They are therefore pretty good dyspepsia, gastritis and hiccups and Marjoram has been found to help with the downward movement of materials through the digestive tract. Increasing circulation in internal organs and helping the liver clean toxins. Both herbs help promote the production of bile, helping with fat digestion and constipation (bile is a key lubricant in the lower digestive tract. Carvacrol is a potent inhibitor of bacterial growth and has been as a food additive to prevent food poisoning.

Both contain potent oils that are used for their antiseptic and antifungal properties. The antiseptic property is why they are also great for bad breath and gum conditions and contributes to the oil’s recent push by Youtube herbalists. People suffering from Athlete’s foot and Candida can benefit from the fresh leaves. Their warming nature can help with rheumatism and strains via a foot bath or douche. Oregano seems slightly superior in these situations, with it having the characteristic of stimulating local blood flow on application (that’s called a ‘rubefacient’).

The biggest difference is that Marjoram is said to have positive effects on some (slightly humorous) mental states. The one that springs to mind, being an old romantic myself is that it helps with people who are too obsessive with romance, cases of unrequited love where the thinking becomes obsessive. Marjoram is, in fact, quite specific for cases of romantic infatuation that are ‘relieved by jogging‘!

Marjoram is also indicated for mental tiredness, for high strung people who can’t relax and cases of headaches caused by anxiety or nervousness.

Herbalist Matthew Wood recommends Oregano to bring out perspiration at the beginning of measles to lessen the duration of the disease. Ann who wouldn’t want their child to get over that nasty disease as quickly as possible.

So there you go, two herbs that are very close relatives with some marked differences in use as herbal remedies.


Preparing and using Oregano and Marjoram

Much has been made online about Oregano oil and that is a good thing! Oregano oil has a wide range of topical applications where its microbe killing power shines. I get the occasional gum inflammations and rubbing a little Oregano oil on them a couple of times a day works a treat.

Both Oregano and Marjoram work beautifully as infusions. An antiseptic wash can be made from a strong infusion that is then washed over the affected area or held on for a fomentation. This will not only stop the wound going septic but can also be used for painful skin eruptions and arthritic pain.

On a milder note, a medicinal tea can ease stomach issues and to assist sleep. It also helps with all kinds of sore throats, even singers have been known to take Oregano or Marjoram tea to keep their voices strong by stopping their throats getting inflamed by use.

Mrs Grieves notes that, at the time of her writing, Oregano Oil came from Thyme, not Oregano.

Some of you may have seen that I've been writing a series of posts about herbs and making herbal remedies at home. I want to share what I know of this topic so that, as the world gets crazier, folks will have other avenues of medical care, namely those of themselves and their community. If you look back over this blog, you can see heaps of info on the topic, plus loads and loads of posts on herbs and using Australian bushfoods from a white perspective. If you haven't been around on in the @hivegarden and @naturalmedicine communities for long, you may be interested in looking back. There's w-a-a-a-a-y too much there for me to repost and the Hive system doesn't let you vote on old posts so, if you're happy with what you find, I believe that there is now a tip option...





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I love that the tea of both Marjoram and oregano can ease sleeping problems. Thank you for sharing 😊

No worries! Please share the post around. I reckon it's important to get a good handle on our very common herbs

I wish everyone could know the benefits of oregano and have one of these at home 👏🤘👏🤘👏🤘

True. Luckily it's so easy to grow.