The Benefits of Culinary Healing Herbs: Marjoram, Oregano, and Savory
At the beginning of 2017, I took a few courses on culinary herbs to learn about their healing properties and where in our bodies they are most effective. Marjoram, oregano, and savory are three related culinary herbs that show positive results in their treatment of our digestive, pulmonary, muscular, skeletal, cutaneous, and urinary systems, as well as in the treatment of our inflammatory tissues. They have similar essential or volatile oils and compounds which enable them to combat a wide variety of ailments in the body. In addition, each herb has its own unique set of healing properties.
Major Essential Oils in Culinary Herbs
Substantial quantities of the essential oils carvacrol and thymol, as well as borneol, linalool, pinene, and terpineol, are found in marjoram, oregano, and savory. Additional noteworthy essential oils follow:
- Eugenol and myrcene are found in marjoram and oregano.
- Camphene and cymene are found in marjoram and savory
- Caryophyllene and cineol are found in oregano and savory
- Sabinene, ocimene, and cadinene are found in marjoram
- Bisabolene is in oregano
- Unique terpenes are in savory
Important Nutrients in Culinary Herbs
Other important nutrients found in culinary herbs are as follows:
- vitamins A
- vitamin B-complex, especially pyridoxine (B6) and folate (B9)
- vitamin C (marjoram, oregano, and savory)
- vitamins E and K (marjoram and oregano)
The minerals calcium, iron, and manganese are plentiful in the three healing herbs. In marjoram, there’s also substantial magnesium and zinc. In oregano, there’s copper. In savory, there’s magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Other important components in the three healing herbs include dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytonutrients.
- intestinal infections
- loss of appetite
- toxins from the colon
- childhood malnutrition
Oregano also relieves dental pain, soothes the digestive tract and stomach, eliminates cancerous toxins from the colon, and eradicates intestinal parasites. Both winter and summer savory also relieve dental pain, nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, intestinal worms, and loss of appetite.
In the pulmonary system, marjoram acts as a decongestant for colds and flu, and is effective in treating chronic problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
Oregano helps to reduce fevers, retard coughs, sore throats, other cold and flu symptoms, and chronic diseases.
Savory alleviates coughs, sore throats, other cold and flu symptoms, chronic issues such as bronchitis and tuberculosis, breathing problems in children, and may also prevent or help treat lung cancer.
Muscular and Joint Aches and Pains
Marjoram and oregano are great for relieving muscular and joint aches and pains, and muscular spasms. Marjoram and savory can ease stomach cramps. Savory is especially good in treating colic, uterine contractions, rheumatism, and gout.
Marjoram and oregano are effective in strengthening the skeletal system.
Cutaneous disorders like itchy skin can be treated with a marjoram poultice or oil of oregano. Marjoram also eases pain from bruises, while oregano works on athlete's foot, eczema, psoriasis, nail fungus, skin sores, canker sores, and toothaches. Savory's antiseptic properties make it an excellent disinfectant for infected wounds.
In the urinary system, marjoram and savory act as diuretics, while oregano eases other urinary tract problems.
Inflammatory Tissues and Organs
Marjoram and oregano, in particular, have powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which make them therapeutically ideal for treating headaches including migraines and sinus infections, fevers, arthritis, bronchitis and other inflammatory pulmonary infections already mentioned, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, marjoram helps fight appendicitis, pancreatitis, and enterocolitis. Oregano and savory fight hepatitis C. Savory treats gout and rheumatism. Oregano’s antimicrobial properties are also especially effective against food-borne bacteria.
Miscellaneous Health Problems
Marjoram, oregano, and savory are great eradicators of harmful, cancer-causing free radicals. They also help the circulatory/cardiovascular system by balancing cholesterol levels, increasing and strengthening red blood cell production, the immune system, the brain and nervous system. In working on the brain and nervous system, the herbs help to relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia (especially marjoram).
Marjoram is also a great regulator of a woman’s menstrual cycle and healer of menopausal symptoms.
Oregano and savory treat vision issues. Oregano has proven, in recent years, to be quite effective in fighting type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in PLOS ONE Journal in 2013. It is also useful for treating hearing issues, increasing energy levels, and slowing the aging process. Savory promotes kidney and liver functions.
About Summer Savory
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Although all three herbs are safe when used in culinary quantities, as medicine, especially oral medicine, there can be side effects and serious ones. Marjoram, oregano, and savory can trigger allergic reactions and prevent or slow blood clotting. It’s recommended that surgery patients stop using these herbs at least two weeks prior to their procedure. The herbs, especially the fresh version, can also cause skin and eye irritations. Marjoram and oregano can induce miscarriages. Long-term use of marjoram can also cause stomach ulcers or blockages, cancers, and seizures. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use them moderately and for a short period. Caution should also be exercised when using these herbs to treat illnesses in children.
Regarding drug interactions, marjoram and oregano have diuretic properties which can interfere with urinary medicines or deplete the body of necessary medications due to frequent urination.
A member of the mint or Lamiaceae family, marjoram has a number of common names, including sweet marjoram, wild marjoram, knotted marjoram, and mild oregano. Botanically, it’s called Origanum majorana. The perennial healing herb is native to North Africa and western Asia and is often mistaken for its oregano cousin. History shows that the ancient Greeks and folks in the Middle Ages associated the herb with romance. Young women would sleep with marjoram under their pillows to reveal their future husbands in their dreams. Newlyweds would wear crowns of marjoram to symbolize their love and the happy occasion. Others believe that if it’s planted on graves, it will ensure a happy afterlife. Marjoram is available year-round.
Also a member of the mint family, oregano as stated before is often confused with marjoram and is called wild marjoram. Botanically, it is known as Origanum vulgare. In its native lands of northern Europe, it grows perennially, but in colder conditions as in North America, it’s an annual. Oregano also bears marjoram’s folklore narrative: being used by ancient Greeks and Romans as a symbol of romance and happiness.
The lesser known or used savory belongs to the mint family as well. It is indigenous to North Africa and southern Eurasia. Like botanical cousins’ marjoram and oregano, it’s cultivated worldwide. This curative herb’s botanical name depends on its cultivation season. The more popular summer savory is called Satureja hortensis. Winter savory is known as Satureja montana. Summer savory is an annual herb. Winter savory is a perennial.
Marjoram is used in the preparation of cured meats and in enhancing the flavors of diary dishes, stews, soups, sauces, and salad.
Oregano is used as a flavor enhancer in American, Latin, Greek, and Turkish cuisine, including meat dishes, pasta dishes, soups, sauces, and vegetables. It’s very complimentary to the tomato flavor.
Savory is used to spice foods like cabbage, broths, soups, meat, fish, and chicken dishes, and garnish for salads.
This article provides information and does not suggest you use these herbs to treat any health issues. Always consult your professional healthcare provider first.
Are You Familiar With Culinary Herbs?
Which of these culinary herbs have you used before?
- "Health and Wellness with Kitchen Herbs and Spices" taught by Elizabeth Heck.
- "Home Health and Herbal Remedies" taught by Elizabeth Heck.