Marjoram (Majoranae herb, aetheroleum)

Published December 2, 1992.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Majoranae herba, marjoram herb.
Majoranae aetheroleum, marjoram oil.

Composition of Drug

Marjoram herb consists of the dried leaf and flower of Origanum majorana L (synonym Majorana hortensis Moench) [Fam. Lamiaceae], gathered during the flowering season and stripped off the stems, as well as preparations thereof.

Marjoram oil consists of the essential oil of O. majorana L. (syn. M. hortensis Moench), obtained by water steam distillation of the leaves and flowers freed from the stems and harvested during flowering season, as well as preparations thereof.

Pharmacological Properties, Pharmacokinetics, Toxicology

Marjoram herb and marjoram oil have an antibacterial action.

Clinical Data 1. Uses Application as a result of evaluation:

None. Claimed uses with negative evaluation:

Rhinitis and cold in infants; rhinitis in toddlers. In combinations, marjoram and marjoram oil are used for the stimulation of appetite, to promote digestion, strengthening of the stomach, for acute and chronic gastritis, ulcus ventriculi, as an antispasmodic, for flatulence, for colic-like nervous gastrointestinal disorders, for a diathermic effect in the case of circulatory deficiencies in the abdominal region, for the support of intestinal activity, for purification of the system, supportive for acute inflammatory liver diseases, for functional regulation of diseases involving gallstones, for dry irritative coughs, for swellings of the nasal and pharyngeal mucosa, inflammation of the ears, headaches, for lowering the blood sugar in diabetics, promotion of milk secretion, as a tonic for nerves, heart and circulation system, for the promotion of healthy sleep, for mood swings, as a tonic (especially during convalescence), as a blood builder, for anorexia, sprains, bruises, lumbago, as an astringent, for dysmenorrhea, for climacteric complaints, for strengthening the female organs, as adjuvant for discharge, for beginning adnexitis, menstrual disturbances, for urogenital bleeding and a diuretic.

The effectiveness for the claimed uses is not sufficiently documented. A positive contribution in combinations for "dyspeptic disorders," "liver and gall preparations," for "colds" and for diseases of the urogenital tract, for diabetes, as a tonic, as a tea for the stimulation of milk secretion and for bruises and similar conditions, cannot be determined.

2. Risks

Marjoram herb contains arbutin and hydroxyquinone in low concentrations. Therefore, the herb is not suited for extended use. Hydroxyquinone is carcinogenic as tested in animals. Topical application of hydroxyquinone leads to depigmentation of the skin. There are no reports of similar side effects with marjoram ointment.


Since the effectiveness for the claimed applications is not sufficiently documented, a therapeutic administration of marjoram herb cannot be recommended.

Considering that the risks are not sufficiently clarified, a topical use of ointments containing marjoram extracts should not be used for the claimed indications in infants and small children.