Learning about beneficial herbs and their medicinal properties is probably one of my favorite things to do (I know, I’m wild). Most of the books that I have squirreled away on my shelves are herbal books, and I have all kinds at that. I have old turn-of-the-century herbal books, specific to New England (I don’t know why). I have textbooks that I saved from grad school. Most of what I have are books from Ollie’s (good stuff cheap) and I love them all. Sometimes I like to look in the garden and see what we have a lot of and then go back and thumb through a few of my books and see what those herbs or flowers are good for. Right now, our grow bags outside of the farm greenhouse have a plethora of marjoram. I remember always having marjoram in my spice cabinet when I was little, but I’ll be fully honest with you: I have ZERO memories of ever using it. So I decided to look around a bit and see what I saw.
According to “Growing and Using the Healing Herbs” by Gaea and Shandor Weiss (a book that was written in 1985 and was a gift from my grandma), “marjoram has traditionally symbolized youth, beauty, and happiness.” Who couldn’t use a little more of all of those things? Additionally, marjoram has been used as a calmative since the days of the Roman empire. It’s a wonderfully effective nervine and sedative that is still used in modern herbalism. Among many other beneficial constituents that make up its chemical composition, marjoram contains linalool, a terpene found in lavender, and some hemp flowers.
Additionally, marjoram, as a close cousin of oregano is just as beneficial come cold and flu season. It has one of the same active constituents found in thyme, bee balm, oregano, and rosemary known as thymol. Thymol is used mostly for headaches (especially helpful for congestion headaches), coughs, and digestive upset.
Research has also shown that marjoram, along with Mexican oregano, and rosemary, act effectively as inhibitors of two enzymes known as protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV). Great, so why is this important? Well, it’s been found that the reduction of both PTP1B and DPP-IV helps improve insulin signaling and tolerance. Basically, marjoram helps improve the body’s ability to properly manage blood sugar, which is crucial to preventing and managing type-2 diabetes
So how should we use marjoram?
Well, like many medicinal herbs, marjoram can be purchased and used in pill form or as a tea but why not use it straight from the ground while it’s fresh and plentiful? Using it fresh or dried can be a tasty way to add it to your daily medicine cabinet. Marjoram is delicious with fish, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, and also as a boost to salad dressings, marinades, soups, and vinegars. You can also make marjoram-infused oil and add that to your favorite dishes. Simply fill a jar with fresh marjoram (you’ll likely only have to fill your jar up a quarter of the way if you’re using dry marjoram). Cover the herb with organic olive oil (or another favorite organic oil), and let sit in a shady spot for about 6 weeks. After, strain the marjoram out through a cheesecloth and save the oil. Don’t forget to label your jar with the date and name of your oil!