Marjoram Essential Oil

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Marjoram Essential Oil
Marjoram Essential Oil – Uses And Benefits – image to repin / share
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Marjoram Essential Oil – General Description

Marjoram essential oil is steam-distilled from the leaves and flowers of Origanum majorana (syn. Majorana hortensis), a perennial aromatic shrub extensively valued in cooking as a food additive or flavoring to various culinary dishes; in traditional medicine for its, among others, analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, and calming properties; and in perfumery, soap, and cosmetic industries for its fragrance. This middle note essential oil appears almost colorless to pale yellow and exudes a warm, sweet but slightly spicy, woody aroma with a camphoreous hint. For optimal results, marjoram essential oil is frequently blended with orange, lavender, rosewood, frankincense, tea tree, eucalyptus, basil, thyme, cypress, elemi, and chamomile
essential oils. [1]

Marjoram Essential Oil – Uses and Reported Benefits

Marjoram essential oil is generally used to improve respiratory function by clearing up the mucus in the lungs and treat respiratory ailments such coughs, colds, and runny nose. It has also been used to manage gastrointestinal disorders including gall bladder-related conditions, liver problems, indigestion, constipation, and stomach cramps and has been found to promote good blood circulation and relieve discomfort attributed to migraines, nervous headaches, nerve pain, muscle spasms and pain, sprain, and arthritis where it can be gently rubbed and massaged to aching joints, muscles, or temples or simply be added to warm compresses. [2] A “symbol of happiness” according to the Greeks and Romans, marjoram relaxes both the body and the mind in aromatherapy, calming the central nervous system and allaying anxiety and stress. [3]

Marjoram Essential Oil – Contraindications and Safety

As with other essential oils, marjoram EO should not be taken internally. When used in typical aromatherapy applications, the use of marjoram essential oil is generally considered safe except for children, pregnant women, and individuals with bleeding disorders, diabetes, and urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract obstruction.

Marjoram may also cause possible skin sensitivity reactions in people allergic to it or to basil, hyssop, lavender, mint, oregano, and sage. Moreover, excessive use may result in extreme drowsiness due to marjoram’s powerful sedative effect. [2]

Marjoram Essential Oil – Scientific Studies And Research

Marjoram Essential Oil as antibacterial: Using microplate assay, Friedman, Henika, and Mandrell (2002) conducted an evaluation of the bactericidal activities of 96 essential oils and 23 essential oil compounds against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica, which were acquired from food and clinical sources. From the 96 essential oils and 23 essential oil compounds tested, only 27 oils and 12 compounds showed activity against all four species of bacteria, with marjoram essential oil being most active against S. enterica. [4]

Marjoram Essential Oil as antifungal: According to numerous studies, marjoram essential oil also exerts considerable antifungal activities. In a fungitoxicity study performed by a research team from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, marjoram essential oil, at relatively low concentrations (250-400 μg/ml), totally inhibited the radial growth, conidial germination, and production of Penicillium digitatum, a plant pathogen. [5]

Marjoram Essential Oil as antioxidant: Due to its high phenolics content, marjoram essential oil has been expectedly found to possess considerably strong antioxidant activities and the capacity to scavenge free radicals. Mossa, Refaie, Ramadan, and Bouajila (2013) reported the results of their study regarding the antigenotoxic and anticytotoxic potential of marjoram essential oil against prallethrin-induced genotoxic damage in bone marrow cells of experimental rats. Prallethrin, a pyrethroid repellent insecticide, was administered in this study at a dose of 64.0 mg/kg body weight and exhibited clastogenic and genotoxic potential revealed by the high percentage of chromosomal aberration and micronucleus in the bone marrow cells of male rats. Treatment with marjoram essential oil led to a decrease in chromosomal aberration and micronucleus formation. [6]

Marjoram Essential Oil as pesticide remedial agent: Interestingly, a further study conducted by the same authors similarly demonstrated the protective role of marjoram essential oil against the adverse effects of prallethrin exposure in rats. In this study, experimental male rats were orally treated for nearly a month with either olive oil (control group), 64.0 mg/kg body weight prallethrin, 64.0 mg/kg body weight prallethrin plus marjoram essential oil in olive oil, or marjoram essential oil only in olive oil. Prallethrin triggered a decrease in body weight gain, an increase in liver weight, and an increase in serum marker enzyme, aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities but a reduction in superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione-S-transferase activities in the liver, suggesting oxidative damage and liver injury. The results indicated that marjoram essential oil treatment alleviated such pesticide-induced oxidative damage and hepatotoxicity. Its coadministration with prallethrin comparatively decreased the activities of ALT, AST, and ALP, minimized lipid peroxidation, and enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes. [7]

Al Dhaheri et al. (2013) investigated the effects of marjoram essential oil on the cell viability, cell cycle, and apoptosis of breast cancer cells. They further examined the levels of numerous cell cycle and apoptosis control proteins in highly proliferative and invasive estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer cell lines. According to a number of chemotherapy and chemoprevention studies, apoptosis could be a reasonable mechanism by which carcinogenesis can possibly be suppressed in precancerous and cancerous cells in vitro or in vivo. The results of the study of Al Dhaheri et al. (2013) revealed that marjoram essential oil effectively inhibits the growth of MDA-MB-231 cells, the metastatic human breast cancer cell line used by the study. At low concentrations, marjoram essential oil appears to cause cell cycle arrest, whereas at high concentrations, it triggers massive apoptosis through TNF-a extrinsic pathway activation, which is associated with a nearly complete depletion of the mutant p53 and surviving proteins from breast cancer cells. [8] This research finding makes marjoram essential oil another anticancer agent that warrant further scientific examination and exploration, as according to the study of Al-Harbi (2011), marjoram also reduces the side effects of anticancer drug (cyclophosphamide) without markedly altering its cytotoxicity. [9]

Marjoram Essential Oil – Molecular Components and Chemistry

Marjoram essential oils are rich in hydrocarbons, alcohols, and phenols. [5] It contains a number of components, which may vary quantitatively and qualitatively depending on the time of collection: thymol (38.4%) and cis-sabinene hydrate (25.3%) during spring;
terpinen-4-ol (37.4%, 20.5%, 16.3%) in the summer, autumn, and winter essential oils; cis-sabinene hydrate (54.4%) in winter plants; and terpinolene (43.1%) in autumn plants. Other essential oil constituents such as sabinene, p-cymene, and alpha-terpinene also exist in lesser amounts. [10]


[1] Sweet marjoram 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oil – 10 ml. Amazon, product information. (no affiliation)

[2] Marjoram. WebMD.

[3] doTERRA Marjoram 15 ml. Amazon, product information. (no affiliation)

[4] Friedman M., Henika P. R., Mandrell R. E. (2002). Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Journal of Food Protection. 65(10): 1545-1560.

[5] Daferera D. J., Ziogas B. N., Polissiou M. G. (2000). GC-MS analysis of essential oils from some Greek aromatic plants and their fungitoxicity on Penicillium digitatum. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 48(6): 2576-2581.

[6] Mossa A. T., Refaie A. A., Ramadan A., Bouajila J. (2013). Antimutagenic effect of Origanum majorana L. essential oil against prallethrin-induced genotoxic damage in rat bone marrow cells. Journal of Medicinal Food. 16(12): 1101-1107. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.0006.

[7] Mossa A. T., Refaie A. A., Ramadan A., Bouajila J. (2013). Amelioration of prallethrin-induced oxidative stress and hepatotoxicity in rat by the administration of Origanum majorana essential oil. BioMed Research International. 2013:859085. doi: 10.1155/2013/859085.

[8] Al Dhaheri Y. et al. (2013). Mitotic arrest and apoptosis in breast cancer cells induced by Origanum majorana extract: upregulation of TNF-a and downregulation of survivin and mutant p53. PLoS One. 8(2):e56649. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056649.

[9] Al-Harbi N. O. (2011). Effect of marjoram extract treatment on the cytological and biochemical changes induced by cyclophosphamide in mice. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 5(23): 5479-5485.

[10] Soliman F. M., Yousif M. F., Zaghloul S. S., Okba M. M. (2009). Seasonal variation in the essential oil composition of Origanum majorana L. cultivated in Egypt. Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C. 64(9-10): 611-64.

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