Woody perennial herb growing to 20 in (50 cm). Has aromatic oval leaves and pinkish-white flowers emerging from the upper leaf axils.
Habitat & Cultivation
Sweet marjoram is native to countries bordering the Mediterranean. It is much cultivated as a culinary herb, and for its essential oil.
Aerial parts, essential oil.
Sweet marjoram contains about 3% volatile oil (comprising sabinene hydrate, sabinene, linalool, carvacrol, and other terpenes), flavonoids, caffeic and rosmarinic acid, and triterpenoids.
History & Folklore
In 1597, the herbalist John Gerard made this assessment: “Sweet marjoram is a remedy against cold diseases of the braine and head, being taken anyway to your best liking; put up into the nostrils it provokes sneesing, and draweth forth much baggage flegme; it easeth the toothache being chewed in the mouth.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Mainly used as a culinary herb, sweet marjoram is also medicinally valuable due to its stimulant and antispasmodic properties. Like oregano (O. vulgare), it treats flatulence, colic, and respiratory problems, but it appears to have a stronger effect on the nervous system than its wild cousin. Sweet marjoram is a good general tonic, helping to relieve anxiety,headaches, and insomnia. The herb is also thought to lower sexual drive.
Do not take as a medicine during pregnancy. Do not take sweet marjoram essential oil internally.