Origanum vulgare is the scientific name of wild marjoram, a low perennial shrub known for its pharmaceutical properties from at least the time of Dioscorides or the first century of this era. It is a native of the Mediterranean and the Near East, growing on dry rocky ground. Wild marjoram as a spice is well known to gourmet cooks, who insist on the wild variety as there is no comparison with the cultivated plant. Marjoram’s pharmaceutical properties are less well known. Its principal active components are various ethereal oils, thymol, carvacrol, origanine, tannins, gums and resins.

  • Anti-catarrhal. The oil extracted from the plant is a powerful expectorant, helping to break up and eliminate mucous from the respiratory tract. Traditionally it has been used as an antiseptic of the respiratory passages against asthma, bronchitis, chronic coughs, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and other bacterial infections.
  • Anti-microbial. The oils thymol and carvacrol possess potent anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties. Thymol earlier obtained from the thyme plant, was medically used against hookworm, but also various digestive problems including diarrhea, fungal infections of the intestines like Candida albicans etc.
  • Antioxidant. Studies show that thymol is a powerful antioxidant, apparently providing exceptional protection against peroxidation.
  • Anti-spasmodic. Other studies suggest that oregano possesses anti-spasmodic properties, through its capacity to soothe the muscle lining of the digestive tract. In addition, it stimulates bile flow and counteracts the bloating sensation of flatulence. At the same time it acts as analgesic against belly aches, muscle pains, rheumatic pains, and even toothaches by gurgling or by chewing a small of fresh oregano.
  • Appetizer. Oregano, particularly its wild variety, has been traditionally used as an appetizer and it is a frequent accompaniment of salads, a variety of sauces, various fish dishes, and roasted meat on the spit or as souvlaki.
  • Cough suppressant. The combination of the previously related anti-catarrhal and anti-spasmodic properties, may well explain why oregano has been traditionally used also as a cough suppressant. Naturally, when cough accompanies highly infectious diseases like bronchitis, tuberculosis, whooping cough, etc, the cough suppressive effect of oregano would be especially valuable.
  • Gastric tonic. Wild marjoram is valuable for many stomach problems, particularly so for general digestive slackness. The appetizing effect and a certain bitterness of wild marjoram appear to stimulate the digestive juices.