Sweet marjoram essential oil is distilled from the flowering tops of the graceful Origanum majorana; the essence is abundant in its leaves. It is commonly grown and distilled for its fresh and comforting essence in Egypt, France, and Germany.
Classified in the Lamiaceae family, it is a hardy perennial sub-shrub in hot and dry climates such as Egypt, yet it is also called Origanum hortensis as it is a tender annual in temperate climates (e.g., France, Germany)—where one must be a “horticulturalist” of sorts to help it survive the colder weather. O. majorana prefers rocky, higher altitudes and calcareous soil as it is native to the Mediterranean and Eurasia. Its common name, “knotted marjoram,” nods to the unopened buds, which when opened show off diminutive flowers ranging from white to pink.
Following are a few notes on nomenclature regarding our herbaceous friend as it may be readily confused with other Origanums. Pot marjoram (Origanum onites) is cultivated in cooler areas as true O. majorana can’t cut the cold and “wild marjoram” is really true oregano (Origanum vulgare). Marjoram may also go by different Latin binomials where O. marjorana references the French influence on the alternate Latin binomial of O. maiorana. According to Mailhebiau, “maiorana” is from the French “Marion,” a derivative of Mary—which may allude to the plants grace and power. Origanum—referencing both Sweet marjoram and Oregano—is derived from the Greek “oros” (mountains) and “ganos” (radiance) which nods to how the wild plants adorn rocky mountain sides with their delicate aromatic flowers and leaves.
The soft, gently sweet aroma of majorana covers the persona with a cooling mist tempering hyper-heated qualities and allowing stillness to settle which may blossom into wonderment—the kind reminiscent of a childhood spent ambling barefoot across meadows, beaches and mountains; the sun beaming upon a soul unencumbered and carefree with joy.
Sweet marjoram was associated with Osiris, the archetype of continual death and rebirth and embodiment of the cycle of life. Rejuvenation may occur by slowly releasing misguided patterns and emotions. O. majorana gently fortifies the nerves and opens blocked channels allowing for the parasympathetic relaxation needed to accept, process and eventually transition to the next possibility.
Sweet marjoram essential oil is indicated for the following conditions where key words for the essential oil are contentment, relaxation and restoration:
- Musculoskeletal system: muscular or joint aches and pains, rheumatic aches and pains, joint swelling, muscle spasms, growing pain (adolescents), cramps, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis
- Nervous system: anxiety, tachycardia, headaches, insomnia, stress reliever, lethargy, nervous exhaustion, stress, agitation, tonic to the parasympathetic nervous system, nervous asthenia, neuralgia
- Respiratory system: spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, sinusitis, nasopharyngitis, respiratory viral infections
- Reproductive/endocrine system: dysmenorrhea, menstrual cramps, herpes simplex, sweet marjoram is considered to be an anaphrodisiac (tempers impulses).
Chemistry Highlights: Sweet marjoram is rich in monoterpenes (α-terpinene, y-terpinene and sabinene) and monoterpene alcohols (cis-thujanol, terpinen-4-ol) supported by sesquiterpenes and esters. Of course, the chemistry often varies depending on the terroir of the plant’s home (e.g., soil, terrain and climate).
Is Origanum majorana Oil Safe? Sweet marjoram essential oil has no known safety concerns.
Blending with Origanum majorana Essential Oil
True to its common name, Sweet Marjoram is indeed sweet but more complex than that. It is hot stones on a coastal mountain side during the height of summer when a soft and slightly cool breeze sighs off the sea. Terpenic and spicy herbaceous notes are immediate. The aroma smells of soft-cozy-warmth yet it is cooling on the palate, mind and body. Its initial pungency is offset by a lulling sweetness with hints of fresh green and delicate florals of light pink haze. It blossoms into demure innocence, the eternal revitalization/rejuvenation of Osiris. The aromas conjure images of youth but marjoram tempers the idiocy of youth—instead invoking innocence and wonder. The dry down continues into soft and soapy smoky-dry paper with a steady whisper of a pink and green perfumed coastal haze.
Sweet marjoram essential oil blends well with: Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), Clary sage (Salvia sclarea), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum), Angelica root (Angelica archangelica), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Rosemary ct. verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. verbenone), Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia), Mandarin (Citrus reticulata).
Creating Wellness Products with Sweet Marjoram
Roller Ball for Stress-Related Pain
Roll your cares away with a mood-modulating synergy of essential oils. Simply blend the essential oils listed below into the glass bottle of a 10 ml roller ball applicator. Affix the screw top cap and let the essential oils sit for at least 24 hours. Then add a fixed oil to the glass bottle (jojoba is my go-to), insert the roller ball apparatus and affix the cap. Be sure to label the bottle.
Use daily, at least 2x per day. Roll onto pulse points, behind the ears and even onto the jawline. Then gently massage the oils into your skin and let them do their work. Apply a liberal amount to pain sites (e.g., stiff neck) and massage the oils into your skin for tension related pain. This is why there are a total number of 30 drops of essential oils; where this blend for emotional work there would be fewer drops of synergy.
3 drops Basil ct linalool (Ocimum basilicum ct linalol)
5 drops Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
6 drops Origanum majorana
8 drops Spike lavender (Lavandula spicata)
8 drops Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Relaxed Respiration: Aromatic Inhaler
Consider putting the following essential oil blend in an aromatic inhaler to help soothe the histamine response, open airways and relax tense breathing caused by anxiousness. Read through this post to get more information on how to make an aromatherapy inhaler.
5 drops Rosemary cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis ct cineole)
10 drops Origanum majorana
15 drops Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
(Also consider adding a few drops of Tanacetum annuum for its antihistamine-like qualities.)
Feminine Reproductive Support: Taming Pain and Balancing Mood
Treat yourself to a nourishing, mood-chilling and body soothing butter.
- To make: Combine the essential oils listed below in a small vial with a cap and let it sit for a few days (this is enough to add to 2 ounces of butter). Then whip up a lovely butter (click here for an idea) and add the essential oil blend to the butter as directed in the recipe. Note: consider the following measurements to make 2 ounces: 1 ounce shea butter, 0.5 ounces coconut oil and 0.5 ounces of another fixed oil of your choice.
- To use: Apply to pain sites and anywhere else on your skin you may enjoy the softening qualities of the butter and the aromas of the essential oils. Use up to 3x per day, 3 to 5 days prior to and during menses.
30 drops Origanum majorana
20 drops Sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var dulce)
10 drops Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
On a parting note—don’t neglect cooking with the fresh or dried herb! Thank you for spending time with Origanum majorana and me.
Citations & Resources
Holmes, P. (2016). Aromatica A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. London: Singing Dragon.
Mailhebiau, P. (1995). Portraits in Oils. Editions Jakin.
Meyers, M. (n.d.). Oregano and Marjoram An Herb Society of America Guide to the Genus Origanum. Retrieved from The Herb Society of America: http://www.herbsociety.org/file_download/inline/b30630e2-d0a9-4632-a7da-14af53a07a67
Mojay, G. (1997). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.
Picton, M. (2000). The Book of Magical Herbs. London: Barrons.