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Marjoram

H. Zell, Creative Commons

Around springtime I always look to my garden for inspiration for these articles. I feel that if you can connect to a plant, you can begin to understand its inherent nature and  its effects on the body. Marjoram is an easily grown herb commonly used in seasonings, fragrances and cosmetics.  The essential oil is steam distilled from its leaves and flowers, but an oil infusion can be made by soaking the flowering tops in a carrier oil like olive or grapeseed oil.

In the olden days, people believed that marjoram could contribute towards longevity for those who used it in cooking and medicines - and indeed because of its calming and relaxing qualities, one could feel like one could live forever. It has a soporific effect on the body, that kind of “manana” attitude where everything can wait until tomorrow.  When inhaled it can cause drowsiness therefore is a great aid for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Because of its calming effect it is wonderful for high  blood pressure, stress, tension, anxiety, and irritability.  It can relax to the point of dulling the senses if overused, but with moderate use, it warms and soothes on both the emotional and mental levels. Marjoram does come with a warning, though, - because it is so sedating, it can decrease one’s sex drive and in the past has been used as an anti-aphrodisiac in religious institutions where enforced celibacy was practiced. Having said that, it can be a helpful aid after divorce or bereavement when one is suddenly without a spouse or sexual partner and missing the accustomed intimacy.  After bereavement, marjoram can aid in the loneliness and grief by deadening the senses in a gentle and comforting way. It seems to take the sting and pain out of the situation.

Marjoram can be used to relieve the pain of migraines and if used in massage, can release sore tense neck muscles that cause headaches. Athletes would find it useful after a heavy workout, either in a bath or in massage, as it relaxes cramped hot muscles and detoxifies the accumulated acids after exercise which then reduces the aches and pain. With massage, this essential oil can also reduce the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.

As a digestive aid, marjoram dispels flatulence and relieves intestinal cramping by strengthening intestinal peristalsis, so therefore is also good for constipation. For the lungs, marjoram can help release congestion and respiratory distress. It can stimulate menstruation because marjoram increases arterial blood flow and encourages circulation.

This spring, when planting an herb garden, save room for a patch of marjoram. This aromatic plant is a welcome friend in any garden.