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 abilities of oregano to decrease chromosomal damage from radiation and marjoram to affect hormone levels in women with PCOS are 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 my videos:

Just how many antioxidants do we need? Check out:

For a few simple tips on how to quickly boost the antioxidant content of your food with herbs and spices, see my video Antioxidants in a Pinch. Another PCOS video I’ve produced, Enhancing Athletic Performance with Peppermint, discusses the benefits of spearmint tea, and I take a more systematic approach in Best Foods for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

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

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