Benefits of Marjoram for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Benefits of Marjoram for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
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Even a small amount of fresh herbs can double or even quadruple the antioxidant power of a meal. The ability of oregano to decrease chromosomal damage from radiation and marjoram to affect hormone levels in women with PCOS is put to the test.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

One of the reasons fruits and vegetables may be so good for us are the antioxidant compounds they contain, given the role that oxidant free radicals are thought to play in aging and disease. So, if you’re making a salad, for example, using spinach, or arugula, or red leaf lettuce may offer twice the antioxidants of butterhead lettuce. And then, choosing purple cabbage over green, or red onions over white, you boost the antioxidant power of your salad. But, fresh herbs are so powerful, even a little bit could double or quadruple the antioxidant power of the entire meal.

Here’s the total antioxidants in a simple salad—lettuce and tomato. And then, here’s that same salad, with just a tablespoon of lemon balm leaves. Or, could be a half of a tablespoon of oregano or mint. And, here’s marjoram, comfrey, thyme, or sage, effectively quadrupling the antioxidant content of the salad, and making it yummier at the same time. And, that’s not to mention maybe a little fresh garlic or ginger in the dressing.

Herbs are so antioxidant-rich that researchers decided to see if they might be able to reduce the DNA-damaging effects of radiation with them. Radioactive iodine is sometimes given to people with overactive thyroid glands or thyroid cancer to destroy part of the gland, or mop up any remaining tumor cells after surgery. For days after the isotope injection, patients become so radioactive that you are advised not to kiss anyone, or to sleep close to anyone (including your pets). If you breathe on a phone, wipe it off. Don’t splatter radioactive urine. Don’t go near your kids, and basically stay away from others as much as possible.

The treatment can be very effective, but all that radiation exposure appears to increase the risk of developing new cancers later on. So, to prevent the DNA damage associated with this treatment, researchers tested the ability of oregano to protect chromosomes of human blood cells in vitro from exposure to radioactive iodine. At baseline, about one in a hundred of our blood cells show evidence of chromosomal damage. Add some radioactive iodine, though, and it’s more like one in eight. But then add, in addition to the radiation, increasing amounts of oregano extract, and chromosome damage was reduced by as much 70 percent. They conclude that oregano extract significantly protects against DNA damage induced by the radioactive iodine in white blood cells.

But, this was all done outside the body, and they justify it by saying it wouldn’t be particularly ethical to irradiate people for experimental research. But look, millions of people have been irradiated for treatment, but they could have used them, or at least, just have people eat the oregano instead, and then just irradiate their blood in vitro to model the amount of oregano compounds that would actually make it into the bloodstream.

Other in vitro studies on oregano are similarly unsatisfying. In a comparison of the effects of various spice extracts—bay leaves, fennel, lavender, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, and thyme—oregano beat out all but bay leaves in its ability to suppress cervical cancer cell growth in vitro, while leaving normal cells alone. And, they’ve got pretty pictures of oregano killing off cervical cancer cells. But, people tend to use oregano orally; so, the relevance of these results are not clear.

Similarly, the closely related herb, marjoram, can suppress the growth of individual breast cancer cells in a petri dish, and even, effectively, whole human breast tumors grown in chicken eggs. I’ve never seen that before. But, the only clinical trial I could find on oregano family herbs, the only randomized controlled study on actual people, was this study, on the effect of marjoram tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

PCOS is the most common cause of fertility problems in women, affecting about one in eight young women. It’s characterized by excessive male hormones, resulting in excess body or facial hair, menstrual irregularities, and cysts in one’s ovaries on ultrasound. Evidently, traditional medicine practitioners reported marjoram tea was beneficial. But, it had never been put to the test, until now.

Two cups a day versus a placebo tea for one month, and there did seem to be beneficial effects on the hormonal profiles. And so, that would seem to offer credence to the claims of the traditional medicine practitioners. But, the study didn’t last long enough to confirm that actual symptoms improve as well. That’s what we care about. Is there anything that’s been shown to help? Well, reducing one’s intake of dietary glycotoxins may help prevent and treat the disease, which I’ll cover next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credits: Anbiist and seelenbluete via pixabay. Images have been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

One of the reasons fruits and vegetables may be so good for us are the antioxidant compounds they contain, given the role that oxidant free radicals are thought to play in aging and disease. So, if you’re making a salad, for example, using spinach, or arugula, or red leaf lettuce may offer twice the antioxidants of butterhead lettuce. And then, choosing purple cabbage over green, or red onions over white, you boost the antioxidant power of your salad. But, fresh herbs are so powerful, even a little bit could double or quadruple the antioxidant power of the entire meal.

Here’s the total antioxidants in a simple salad—lettuce and tomato. And then, here’s that same salad, with just a tablespoon of lemon balm leaves. Or, could be a half of a tablespoon of oregano or mint. And, here’s marjoram, comfrey, thyme, or sage, effectively quadrupling the antioxidant content of the salad, and making it yummier at the same time. And, that’s not to mention maybe a little fresh garlic or ginger in the dressing.

Herbs are so antioxidant-rich that researchers decided to see if they might be able to reduce the DNA-damaging effects of radiation with them. Radioactive iodine is sometimes given to people with overactive thyroid glands or thyroid cancer to destroy part of the gland, or mop up any remaining tumor cells after surgery. For days after the isotope injection, patients become so radioactive that you are advised not to kiss anyone, or to sleep close to anyone (including your pets). If you breathe on a phone, wipe it off. Don’t splatter radioactive urine. Don’t go near your kids, and basically stay away from others as much as possible.

The treatment can be very effective, but all that radiation exposure appears to increase the risk of developing new cancers later on. So, to prevent the DNA damage associated with this treatment, researchers tested the ability of oregano to protect chromosomes of human blood cells in vitro from exposure to radioactive iodine. At baseline, about one in a hundred of our blood cells show evidence of chromosomal damage. Add some radioactive iodine, though, and it’s more like one in eight. But then add, in addition to the radiation, increasing amounts of oregano extract, and chromosome damage was reduced by as much 70 percent. They conclude that oregano extract significantly protects against DNA damage induced by the radioactive iodine in white blood cells.

But, this was all done outside the body, and they justify it by saying it wouldn’t be particularly ethical to irradiate people for experimental research. But look, millions of people have been irradiated for treatment, but they could have used them, or at least, just have people eat the oregano instead, and then just irradiate their blood in vitro to model the amount of oregano compounds that would actually make it into the bloodstream.

Other in vitro studies on oregano are similarly unsatisfying. In a comparison of the effects of various spice extracts—bay leaves, fennel, lavender, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, and thyme—oregano beat out all but bay leaves in its ability to suppress cervical cancer cell growth in vitro, while leaving normal cells alone. And, they’ve got pretty pictures of oregano killing off cervical cancer cells. But, people tend to use oregano orally; so, the relevance of these results are not clear.

Similarly, the closely related herb, marjoram, can suppress the growth of individual breast cancer cells in a petri dish, and even, effectively, whole human breast tumors grown in chicken eggs. I’ve never seen that before. But, the only clinical trial I could find on oregano family herbs, the only randomized controlled study on actual people, was this study, on the effect of marjoram tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

PCOS is the most common cause of fertility problems in women, affecting about one in eight young women. It’s characterized by excessive male hormones, resulting in excess body or facial hair, menstrual irregularities, and cysts in one’s ovaries on ultrasound. Evidently, traditional medicine practitioners reported marjoram tea was beneficial. But, it had never been put to the test, until now.

Two cups a day versus a placebo tea for one month, and there did seem to be beneficial effects on the hormonal profiles. And so, that would seem to offer credence to the claims of the traditional medicine practitioners. But, the study didn’t last long enough to confirm that actual symptoms improve as well. That’s what we care about. Is there anything that’s been shown to help? Well, reducing one’s intake of dietary glycotoxins may help prevent and treat the disease, which I’ll cover next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credits: Anbiist and seelenbluete via pixabay. Images have been modified.

Doctor's Note

What’s so great about antioxidants? See, for example, Food Antioxidants & Cancer and Food Antioxidants, Stroke, & Heart Disease.

How many do we need? Check out:

If you liked the beginning of the video where I show how a meal is affected, you’ll love my Antioxidants in a Pinch video.

I think the only other PCOS video I have so far discusses the benefits of spearmint tea (in Enhancing Athletic Performance with Peppermint). That’s why I’m so excited for the next video, Best Foods for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), where I take a more systematic approach.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

44 responses to “Benefits of Marjoram for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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  1. I always add a heaped tablespoon of both marjoram and oregano to my daily salad.

    I blend the herbs with tomato, garlic, onion and a whole peeled orange with 50ml of water and use that as my salad dressing – gives it a nice pizza-y flavour.

    Other days i make a raw curry sauce the same way by blending whole spices instead of curry powder (lots of different recipes for this on internet so find the one that makes your favourite curry, madras etc.. ) and use that as the salad dressing – yes, curried salad is quite delicious.

    Have fun and experiment, you don’t only have to use refined oils and vinegar as a salad dressing, raw blended sauces are far more delicious.




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    1. My go to salad dressing is simply 1 part Balsamic vinegar, 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part lemon juice and 1 part soy sauce. No need for fat or sugar.




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    1. Growing Young: This site changed from disqus to wordpress. You can get a NutritionFacts account by using the login/register link in the upper right corner of the screen.




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      1. Thanks Thea. Always had problems with Disqus, it was always missing posts and being intermittent.

        Are we gonna be allowed avatars or gravatars?




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        1. Growing Young: I’m not sure about the pictures/avatars. I think there is supposed to be away you can do it now? But I don’t know. I’ve passed your feedback on. I’ve been told that we might get some improvements when NutritionFacts rolls out their new site.




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            1. Ryan: I’d tell you if I knew! It will be a surprise for both of us. At least it will be a surprise for any changes to the forum area. I think Dr. Greger has blogged about changes to the site itself if that’s what you are talking about… You could look for that post if you want a head’s up, though it’s possible that the explanation of changes coming to the site was just sent via an e-mail.




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      2. Right now–WordPress ;-( Maybe I’ll change my opinion in the future.

        Interestingly, trying to log in took me ten minutes. It made me change my password and when I clicked update it stated my account was updated. But when I clicked the NutritionFacts.org logo in the upper left of the web page the site kicked me out and stated I had to sign back in. So after a redundant cycle of log ins and log outs I figured out I had to click the NUTRITION VIDEOS tab next to the NF.org logo to stay logged in, and then click on today’s Marjoram video to comment.




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        1. HemoDynamic: Thanks for your feedback! I’m forwarding that all on.

          re: Logging out and in again: I’ve had that problem myself. Hopefully it is something that can be fixed.




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        2. WordPress also doesn’t indicate to whom you are commenting to like Discus did. Discus would indicate in the first line who you were replying to so people could immediately understand to whom the answer was directed.

          Maybe I’ll grow to like WordPress but my first impression is it’s cumbersome and not as user friendly as Discus.
          That said, it is nice, however, to not have to do all the HTML coding for Bold or Italic or adding links

          Also without our Avatars and Moderator status not indicated the site seems sterile.
          Also what is with the countdown timer to edit your comment? It does make me feel stressed out to finish editing my comment.




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          1. Also clicking the Reply tab takes about ten seconds to load (much slower than the older Discus which was nearly instantaneous when you clicked on Reply), and then it takes me down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment. Why does it do that? Now I cannot see the comment directly above my comment anymore so now I have to scroll up back to the original statement to reread anything and then scroll back down to the bottom of the page to continue my comment.

            I know I haven’t been commenting much lately because I have been so busy with my life but I can definitely state that this new WordPress makes more work for me and that’s the last thing I need.

            I really hope this feedback helps. Things need to be easier and more fluid, not obtuse and cumbersome.

            Also when you click the Submit button the reload takes 10-15 seconds to load the comment and page back up. So I sit and watch the reload circle circling for 10-15 seconds?




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            1. HemoDynamic: I think all the feedback helps. You mostly came up with pain points that I’ve already forwarded on, but I think it is helpful for NutritionFacts staff to understand that the issues are not just Thea’s issues. So, I’m passing on everyone’s comments.

              I totally agree that our lives are full enough that we don’t need to be wasting time when we want to just be volunteering and helping people. This has been quite the learning experience. Disqus left a lot to be desired, but it turns out, it can get worse…




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              1. I prefer Discus for all the reasons everybody else has mentioned. I also notice that when I comment and hit Submit it seems like nothing is happening. I wait…and wait…nothing, so I hit Submit again and they immediately tell me my comment is a duplicate. So, how do you know if Submit actually worked?

                Also, with every comment I have to give my name, email address, and at the end, I have to check whether or not to participate by email. Too much trouble!

                I once tried to put up a WordPress website and never could get past the early beginnings. Obviously, I’m not a computer geek, but really, I think WordPress has a lot to learn about being user friendly.




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              2. I can’t find any credible information on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis on the internet. Can Dr. Greger please do a video on that?!? There are several books and websites covering the topic, but I don’t trust the sources. It is a life altering illness that can lead to weight gain and depression among other things and I would love some information.

                Thank you!




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                1. Chrissy Marie: I have forwarded on your request. You are not the first to ask about this, so I’m also hoping NutritionFacts is able to address this topic in the future. Thanks for your post.




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  2. I’d like to see some studies done on Mediterranean oregano oil. I buy a tincture from my farmers’ market grocer and use it topically on any defects on my skin – it seems to work well. The label also says you can take up to 4 drops in water at a time. I wonder if this is a good idea (for antioxidants) or a risky idea. Anybody have an opinion? (Don’t try putting it on a salad unless you want to discard your salad.) =P




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    1. Why consume refined/processed products when you can use the whole food? Oregano and marjoram are such easy plants to grow in a garden, very hardy perennials, or even on in a window pot, and the dried whole leaves are so cheap as well.




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    2. It’s my understanding that oregano oil kills bacteria, and I’ve been warned not to take it for extended periods because it will affect my microbiome. I think using the whole herb would be better than the concentrated oil or supplement.

      Does anybody have more information on this?




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  3. It would be good to get some information about dried herbs. Do they lose antioxidant capacity when dried? Fresh would of course be preferable, but dried are a lot more convenient.




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    1. Hello! My name is Megan and I am a volunteer for NutritionFacts and a nutrition student. After doing some research on your question, I believe I have an answer for you. Back in the 80’s, the NIH and USDA began developing a database of ORAC values, which is basically the antioxidant capacities of specific foods. I have recently stumbled upon a website that has a list of the ORAC values of thousands of foods. It appears that the dried version of herbs have an average of about 3x the antioxidant capacity of the fresh versions, because they are a more concentrated form of the active constituents of the herb, once the water has been removed. The only catch is that antioxidants deteriorate over time, due to post-harvesting treatments (UV exposure, irradiation, etc.), temperature, light, oxygen. Also, some of the plants’ deteriorate faster than others. So it seems that dried herbs have a higher antioxidant capacity than the fresh ones, just make sure your spices aren’t too old!

      https://www.superfoodly.com/fresh-vs-dried-herbs/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/herbs/




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  4. Diagnosed with PCOS way back in 1993ish.
    I’ve also read that Mint, especially Spearmint tea is effective with PCOS and hirtuism. Not sure of the spelling, but the unwanted facial hair is what I’m talking about.)




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  5. Is there any research about exercise and PCOS? I was diagnosed with PCOS in 1988 and took medication for years. After fertility treatment and the birth of my twins, in 2001 I started looking around the internet for information. I came across a support group where women talked about overcoming their symptoms with exercise. I realized that that had worked for me but I had not made the connection. I had had a regular cycle during a time in my life when I was exercising around 1.5 hours a day (brisk walking). Once I had made the connection I was able to overcome my symptoms without medication, by including regular exercise and keeping my weight down and I had at least 10 years of regular cycle until menopause. I wish that my doctors had told me that was possible when I was diagnosed. This was in the days of the internet before it was commercialized. Now, if you search for information on PCOS you just get information about what drugs to take. It would be interesting to know if there is any research into curing PCOS without hormones and drugs.




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  6. Hi Sarah,
    I’m a volunteer medical moderator working with Dr Greger. Here’s an article that doesn’t talk specifically about curing PCOS with exercise but does substantiate what you experienced. These researchers found that “resistance exercise alone can improve hyperandrogenism, reproductive function, and body composition by decreasing visceral fat and increasing LMM, but it has no metabolic impact on women with PCOS.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26587847




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  7. There are two kinds of oregano–Mediterranean, which is sometimes called wild marjoram, and Mexican, which is a cousin of lemon balm. Could somebody on staff please clarify –Is Dr. G talking about Mediterranean oregano in the above discussion? Or is he sometimes referring to Mexican? Because lemon balm also helps prevent radiation damage, I think he may be referring to Mexican oregano in the radiation discussion.




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  8. Hi there,

    I have been about 98% WFPB for about 2 years now. I have seen immense health benefits from switching to this way of eating. I am a 26 year old female, I have had 2 healthy pregnancies- my children are 2 and 4. I was able to conceive each after only 5 weeks of stopping birth control. Both of those times of conception, I ate only slightly healthier than the Standard American Diet. I quit eating meat one year ago, which was right around the time we decided to try for another child. I got off the pill, and have not had a period in 12 months now.

    I have never felt healthier, my BMI is 22, my cholesterol is 110, I exercise 6 days a week. I eat plenty of calories in a day (1600-2200). I was just wondering is there any science about losing the ability to have menses after going plant-based? Is it possible that the hormones I ate from meat/dairy/eggs all my life threw me off and then when I gave them up, my body doesn’t know how to regulate itself anymore? I went into my OBGYN where she diagnosed me with PCOS because of my lack of period and also an ultrasound where the Radiologist diagnosed me. I am not entirely convinced of the diagnosis where I was able to conceive so effortlessly before and my former OBGYN had never mentioned such a condition. I am just stuck in this frustrating situation of trying to have another period and I cannot. I do not wish to add back in animal products if possible. I am just wanting professional advice as everyone around here just wants to put me on Metformin, even though my blood sugars are perfectly healthy, because Metformin has an ‘accidental side affect’ of making ‘some women ovulate.’ But I wonder if that’s just because most women with PCOS have blood sugar issues, so when they handle that with medication they get healthier and therefore; ovulate.

    Is there anything you can do to bring back a period with plant-based? And is it common/possible to lose your period when switching to a whole food plant based diet?

    I am desperate for help at this point and would love a plant-based expert’s advise.

    Thank you dearly for your time.




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  9. Thank you for your question. I don’t believe there is any direct evidence to support marjoram for Hashimoto’s disease. As you know, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition. In general autoimmune conditions respond well to plant-based diets as they are an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet. So the more you can follow a whole food plant based diet the better. Dr Greger has many videos on autoimmune diseases in general so do search the term ‘autoimmune’ on the site




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