“Sweet marjoram” is native to Asia but is a naturalized citizen of Europe, where singers preserve their voices with the honeyed tea. It was used in weddings to symbolize honor, happiness, and love. A marjoram species was probably the “hyssop” of the Bible, used for purification. It is an antioxidant food preserver.
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Extraction: Distilled from leaves. Oleoresin. The odor is sweet, herby and a little warm, hinting of camphor.
Medicinal Action: A strong sedative, marjoram eases muscle spasms, tics, menstrual cramps, headaches (especially migraines) and stiff joints. Treats spasmodic coughs, colds, flu, laryngitis and hypertension, and is a light laxative. Also helps normalize blood pressure.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Use marjoram on bruises, burns and inflammations, and to treat fungal and bacterial infections.
Emotional Attribute: Marjoram helps those who feel emotionally unstable or are prone to hysteria or irritability, especially due to outside stimulus. The old texts say it works so well that overuse deadens the emotions. Modern aromatherapists use marjoram to ease loneliness, rejection and a “broken heart.”
Oregano (O. vulgare) –Closely related botanically, the division between the oreganos and marjorams is often hazy. However, true oregano is much more irritating to the skin. Although it is effective against respiratory, genital, urinary and intestinal infections, we suggest using less irritating oils.
Spanish Marjoram (Thymus mastichina) –Also called “wild marjoram,” this North African thyme is antiseptic to upper-respiratory infection, but is not a sedative or muscle relaxant like sweet marjoram. It is also much harsher and less expensive. Several other species of thyme are also sold as “marjoram.”
Spanish Oregano (T. capitatus) –Called origan in the perfume trade, this is really a thyme with an oregano-like scent. It can irritate skin and should be used very cautiously, if at all.