Sweet Marjoram Tea May Lessen Non-motor Symptoms

Marta Figueiredo, PhD avatar

by Marta Figueiredo, PhD |

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Daily consumption of sweet marjoram tea, in addition to standard antiparkinsonian medication, may help reduce non-motor symptoms and depression in people with Parkinson’s disease, a small study suggests.

Notably, the one-month intervention, while safe, was found to have no significant effect on patients’ motor symptoms, even though they showed a slight reduction.

Larger studies with a longer intervention are needed to confirm the therapeutic potential of sweet marjoram tea in Parkinson’s, the researchers noted.

The study, “The effect of Origanum majorana tea on motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot study,” was published in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.

People with Parkinson’s disease may experience not only hallmark motor problems, but also non-motor symptoms, such as cognitive impairment, depression, sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal, urinary, and sexual difficulties.

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These non-motor issues can contribute to significant disability and negatively affect patients’ quality of life.

Commonly known as sweet marjoram or marjoram, Origanum majorana is an evergreen tree used as a culinary herb, as well as for medicinal purposes, mainly in the form of an infusion from fresh or dried plant or as an oil.

Sweet marjoram was shown previously to have antioxidant, anti-neurodegenerative, and antimicrobial properties, and is thought to have beneficial effects against common colds, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and dizziness.

“Generally, Origanum majorana is not associated with any side effects or health hazards when consumed appropriately, in accordance with the indicated daily dosage,” the researchers wrote.

However, whether consumption of sweet marjoram may help lessen Parkinson’s motor and non-motor symptoms remains unknown.

To address this, a team of researchers in Tunisia conducted a small placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of daily sweet marjoram tea consumption in Parkinson’s patients.

The study involved 60 adults with idiopathic (of unknown cause) Parkinson’s disease treated with antiparkinsonian medication, who were assigned randomly to consume sweet marjoram tea (30 patients) or a placebo tea (30 patients), every night, for 30 days.

Of note, sweet marjoram tea was made with 5 grams of dried leaves in 100 milliliters (3.3 ounces) of boiling water, left to steep for 15 minutes, and filtered through a strainer.

Participants were instructed to maintain their usual diet and physical activity level, and not to take any herbal recipes or nutritional supplements that might have metabolic effects. Antiparkinsonian treatment remained unchanged throughout the study.

The trial’s main goals were to assess changes in patients’ motor and non-motor symptoms, and depression. Motor symptoms were evaluated with the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part III, depression with the Beck Depression Inventory, and non-motor symptoms with the Non-motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS).

NMSS covers nine areas: cardiovascular, sleep/fatigue, mood/apathy, perceptual problems/hallucinations, attention/memory, gastrointestinal, urinary, sexual dysfunction, and miscellaneous.

A total of 51 participants completed the study: 28 in the sweet marjoram group and 23 in the placebo group. Study withdrawal was related to noncompliance and inability to conduct follow-up assessments.

At study start, there were no significant group differences in terms of demographic and clinical variables.

Results showed that one month of daily sweet marjoram tea consumption significantly reduced non-motor symptoms and depression, even when adjusted for potential influencing factors, such as patients’ age, sex, weight, treatment dose, and disease duration.

While the intervention also reduced patients’ UPDRS scores, this difference in motor symptoms did not reach statistical significance.

Notably, one month of daily placebo tea consumption was not associated with significant differences in motor and non-motor scores.

Sweet marjoram tea was well-tolerated, with no reports of serious adverse side effects, and no changes in liver and kidney functions.

These preliminary findings suggest that daily consumption of sweet marjoram tea may ease depression and other non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.

“Improvement of motor signs may need an extended treatment period,” the researchers wrote, adding that “more research with a large number of participants and lasting longer than 1 month is needed to argue these findings.”

Should the beneficial effects of sweet marjoram tea be confirmed in this patient population, additional studies are needed to identify the active components behind such benefits, the team noted.

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