MARJORAM [OREGANO] (Origanum vulgare; Origanum majorana): Origin: native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Ancient Egyptians decorated mummies with wreathes of marjoram. Considered especially sacred to Aphrodite, the word oregano in Greek translates as “joy of the mountains.” Ancient Greeks believed that if oregano grew on one’s grave, a happy afterlife would result. Throughout the Mediterranean people from antiquity to modern times have believed that oregano cures rheumatism. Garlands of oregano were worn at ancient Greek weddings and funerals. In Medieval times a sprig of oregano was believed to banish sadness.

The Culpeper herbal considered a range of uses for marjoram and calls this herb an excellent remedy for the brain and mind; decoctions when drunk aid in healing all diseases of the chest that hinder free breathing, and use removes obstructions of the liver and spleen. Marjoram can be used to treat loss of speech and marjoram mixed with long pepper and acorns will assist patients who cannot urinate. Marjoram ground into powder and mixed with honey can be applied to the body to remove the black marks of bruises; when mixed with fine flower it is useful to treat inflammation and watering of the eyes; juice of marjoram dropped into the ears eases pain and singing noise [i.e. tinnitus]; marigold powder stuffed into the nose provokes sneezing and thereby purges the brain; when chewed in the mouth its leaves draw much phlegm from the body. The oil of marjoram eases stiff joints and sinews.

Oregano was thought by the ancients to counter the effects of spider and scorpion bites. Some contemporary Greeks believe that if you rub oregano on your body just before sleeping, you will dream of your future spouse. Oregano also is considered to be a charm against witchcraft and used as a traditional local antiseptic. For many centuries sprigs of oregano were strewn about rooms where the sick languished for their presumed antiseptic value. Further, oregano was strewn over the floors of churches when celebrating funerals. It is said that persons associated with the Devil cannot stand the aroma of oregano. Reports claim that marjoram counters narcotic poison, and treats convulsions.

(Summarized from: Culpeper, 1653, p. 113; Skinner, 1911, pp. 176-176; Colin, 1962, p. 57; Lehner and Lehner, 1962, p. 123; Northcote, 1971, pp. 31-32; Darby, Ghalioungui, and Grivetti, 1977. Vol. 2. pp. 802-803; Grivetti, 2004, p. 97).

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