Origanum majorana (Lamiaceae)

  • The plant

It is a cold-sensitive perennial herb or sub shrub that is also called sweet marjoram or knotted marjoram.Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean countries in rather dry, warm, well-drained soils, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness. It is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade.

  • Ethnopharmacology and uses in traditional medicine

Sweet marjoram is medicinally valuable due to its stimulant and antispasmodic properties. It is a general body stimulant and acts against various disorders of the digestive and respiratory systems.
The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue and expectorant. In folk medicine, marjoram is used for cramps, depression, dizziness, gastrointestinal disorders, migraine, nervous headaches and paroxysmal coughs.

  • Active constituents

The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, pinene, thymol, carvacrol.
The non volatile compounds of the herb consist mainly of flavonoids (diosmetin, luteolin, apigenin), tannins, hydroquinone, phenolic glycosides (arbutin, methyl arbutin, vitexin, orientin, thymonin), triacontan, sitosterol and triterpen acids (oleanolic acid, ursolic acid). The antiviral, bactericidal, antiseptic and antifungal effects of marjoram are attributed to ursolic acid and essential oil and in particular to thymol and carvacrol.


                          Thymol                           Carvacrol                              Ursollic acid