Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil: A Powerful, Versatile Remedy


| 3/18/2019 6:36:00 PM


A close relative of sharply-pungent oregano, aromatic sweet marjoram — also known as knotted marjoram due to its production of small, tightly clustered, pale or dark pinkish-purple flowers, or “knots” — is a traditional culinary herb and folk remedy that was especially favored by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, who utilized it in their food, fragrances, medicines, and cosmetics. Introduced into Europe in the Middle Ages, sweet marjoram became a favorite ingredient in body splashes and bathwaters. Being a prized “strewing herb,” the plant was placed on the earthen floors of homes to subdue disagreeable odors and help repel insects and vermin. All you have to do is crush fresh marjoram leaves between your fingers and take a whiff of its pleasing scent to understand why the tenacious, warm, pungent, woody-sweet, softly spicy-camphorous aroma was so popular hundreds of years ago and remains so today.

marjoram flowers
Photo by Stephanie Tourles

I like versatile herbs, and sweet marjoram does not disappoint! Having seen use as a culinary spice, tea, decoction, and compress, it has long been recognized as valuable medicine for myriad complaints, including digestive upsets, intestinal cramps, menstrual problems, nervous disorders, respiratory infections, sprains, stiff joints, bruises, muscular and rheumatic pain, fungal conditions, anxiety, and insomnia.

Steam-distilled from freshly dried leaves and flowers, the essential oil is a convenient way to employ the many benefits of sweet marjoram, and it’s one of my preferred oils for addressing general arthritic pain, rheumatism, sore or stiff muscles, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, gout, and migraine headaches with neck tension. Its deeply soothing, warming action brings almost instant relief to all muscle and joint conditions.

As with most oils extracted from culinary herbs, sweet marjoram essential oil is effective for digestive problems, as well as intestinal cramps, infantile colic, and irritable bowel syndrome. When using it in a massage oil blend for anything to do with the digestive system, remember to massage the belly in a clockwise direction (this instruction applies if you are massaging someone else’s belly, not your own), beginning at the navel and spiraling outward, ending at the top of the left thigh, to encourage the digestive process to move in the normal direction. Note: If you are massaging your own belly, massage in a counter-clockwise direction.



Being an amazingly effective relaxant, sweet marjoram is an excellent oil to use if you have trouble winding down after getting into bed or if you suffer from insomnia. Place a few drops in your bedroom diffuser and turn it on 15 to 30 minutes before retiring. The soothing fragrance will lull you into restful sleep before you know it.



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