Herb Guide: M - O

Marjoram, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Oregano




(Origanum vulgare)

Member of the lamiaceae (mint) family

Common names: common marjoram, wild marjoram, sweet marjoram, knotted marjoram, joy of the mountains

Unlike many herbs, marjoram maintains the full intensity of it's aroma, even after it is dried. This characteristic made it a prime candidate for strewing in the Middle Ages. 'Strew' a bit throughout your kitchen cupboards and it will repel ants, while providing a wonderful scent, as well!

If you find yourself in a pinch, use marjoram as a replacement for oregano in any dish. The flavors are quite similar; with marjoram being just a bit milder.

Teas made with marjoram can effectively promote menstrual flow.

Infuse this herb into massage oil to use as a remedy for constipation, gastric distress, diarrhea, and menstrual cramping. It will also dilate arteries and blood vessels; making it very useful when treating arthritis, joint muscle pain, migraine, and high blood pressure.

Use marjoram in room sprays, or as an inhalation, when you are suffering from respiratory congestion. It effectively breaks up mucus. It will also provide relief from the fever that so often accompanies this condition.

Do not use marjoram while pregnant.

Do not use marjoram if you have low blood pressure.


(Viscum album)

Member of the lorantheceae (mistletoe) family

Common names: birdlime, golden bough

It is not hard to find a sprig of mistletoe adorning a doorway around the holidays. It has long been a holiday tradition to kiss anyone whom you find unwittingly 'standing under the mistletoe'. I've seen it create quite a stir at parties; always in the most good-natured, delightful way!

This herb is truly one of nature's wonders. It does not have a 'home of its own', per say. Birds disperse the seeds of the mistletoe plant throughout trees, where they sprout among the branches. They produce thin roots, which tap into the trees nutritional resources. Thereby, feeding the mistletoe plant. Mistletoe is the parasite, and the tree it's seeds land in become it's host.

Mistletoe extracts are effectively used to make cancer treating drugs in Europe. These drugs are not available in the U.S.; as the FDA has declared mistletoe an unsafe plant.

Mistletoe leaves and berries are poisonous.


(Artemisia vulgaris)

Member of the asteraceae (daisy) family

Common names: cingulum sancti johannis, felon herb, st. john's plant

I love this herbs name. It conjures up images of fairytale witches, stirring black cauldrons in the forest, in my mind.

"Mugwort, Mugwort, Mugwort" ... it feels like you can chant it three times and make all your wishes come true!

Alas, mugwort does not hold any 'magical' properties. Yet, any massage therapist who chooses to infuse their oils with this incredible herbal gem, is likely to feel as though it does. Mugwort is deeply penetrating, and increases blood circulation. These properties make it incredibly effective when working with stiffness and pain.

Use massage oils infused with this herb for menstrual cramps, as well.

Be sure to pack a bit of mugwort in with your clothes, when storing them away at the end of the season; moths hate it!

At the end of a long day, bathe your feet in some mugwort tea; it will both relax and soothe them. It is an effective treatment of athletes foot, as well.

Mugwort makes a great inhalation. Think of it as the 'mind' herb; it promotes clarity, intuition, and memory enhancement.

A mugwort inhalation will also help clear up any respiratory distress you may suffer from during allergy season.


(Origanum vulgare)

Member of the lamiaceae (mint) family

Common names: wild marjoram, mountain mint

Oregano is said to have been created by Aphrodite, as a symbol of joy. Artemis wore it as a crown, and Dioscorides praised the health benefits derived from consuming it when mixed with onions and sumac. This is still a common culinary combination in Lebanese cooking.

Oregano is high in manganese, calcium, and iron. It contains vitamins A, C, and K.

Add this delicate little herb to just about any dish. Don't let it's delicate appearance fool you though; oregano packs a punch! Use it sparingly.

Oregano provides a complimentary flavor to meat, cheese, and seafood dishes. It can be added to soups, stews, and sauces, as well. But the food that simply belongs with oregano is lettuce. They seem to have an affinity for each other. Sprinkle a bit of oregano over your garden salad, or use it to top off the lettuce on a deli sandwich; you will never want to eat these foods without this delightful little herb again.

Today, oregano is thought of primarily as a culinary herb. Interestingly enough, it was originally introduced to the culinary world because of the medicinal and preservative qualities it possesses. Indeed, the ancient Greeks referred to oregano as 'panakes', which means all-heal.

Oregano is anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.

Infuse it in vinegar and use it to treat athletes foot.

A foot soak made with oregano will assist your body in detoxing; this is great when suffering from influenza.

This herb contains at least seven compounds which can effectively lower blood pressure.

Use a mild oregano tea to treat digestive problems.

Be aware that too much oregano can cause vomiting.


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