Ingredients: Marjoram

July 19th, 2008

The common Marjoram (Origanum) grows frequently as a wild labiate plant on dry, bushy places, especially in chalky districts throughout Britain, the whole herb being fragrantly aromatic, and bearing flowers of a deep red colour. When cultivated in our kitchen gardens it becomes a favourite pot herb, as “Sweet Marjoram,” with thin compact spikes, and more elliptical leaves than the wild Marjoram. Its generic title, Origanum, means in Greek, the joy of the mountains (oros-ganos) on which it grows.

This plant and the Pennyroyal are often called “Organ.” Its dried leaves are put as a pleasant condiment into soups and stuffings, being also sometimes substituted for tea. Together with the flowering tops they contain an essential volatile fragrant oil, which is carminative, warming, and tonic. An infusion made from the fresh plant will excellently relieve nervous headaches by virtue of the camphoraceous principle contained in the oil; and externally the herb may be applied with benefit in bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as likewise for colic. “Organy,” says Gerard, “is very good against the wambling of the stomacke, and stayeth the desire to vomit, especially at sea. It may be used to good purpose for such as cannot brooke their meate.”

The sweet Marjoram has also been successfully employed externally for healing scirrhous tumours of the breast. Murray says: “Tumores mammarum dolentes scirrhosos herba recens, viridis, per tempus applicata feliciter dissipavit.” The essential oil, when long kept, assumes a solid form, and was at one time much esteemed for being rubbed into stiff joints. The Greeks and Romans crowned young couples with Marjoram, which is in some countries the symbol of honour. Probably the name was originally, “Majoram,” in Latin, Majorana. Our forefathers scoured their furniture with its odorous juice. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act v, Scene 5, we read:–

“The several chairs of order look you scour
With juice of balm, and every precious flower.”

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie


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