“Sweet marjoram” is a low, bushy perennial native to Asia but naturalized in Europe, where singers learned to preserve and strengthen their voices with the honeyed tea. Traditionally it was given to those who felt unstable, physically debilitated, or irritable. Ancient Greeks planted the herb on their ancestors’ graves to ensure them a peaceful sleep. The Romans said that the goddess Venus used marjoram to cure her son Eros’ wounds and that it was scentless until she touched it. Marjoram is probably what is called “hyssop” in the Bible, where it is noted for personal cleansing and purification of the temples. Marjoram had a reputation for endowing longevity and was an antidote to serpent poison. The greenish-yellow essential oil is distilled from the plant’s flowering tops. Its taste and properties are milder than the closely related oregano, which is so strong and potentially toxic that it is seldom used in aromatherapy.
Principal constituents of marjoram: Carvacrol, thymol, borneol, camphor, linalol, linalyl acetate, cineol, cymeme, sabinene, and terpineol
Scent of marjoram: The odor is sweet, herby, and pungent in concentration. When diluted, it mellows to an almost warm, spicy floral with a hint of camphor.
Therapeutic properties of marjoram: Antioxidant; calms nerves, clears mucous from the lungs, relieves pain, improves digestion, brings on menstruation, lowers high blood pressure, stops bleeding
Uses for marjoram: A good sedative, marjoram eases stiff joints and muscle spasms, including tics, excessive coughing, menstrual cramps, and headaches (especially migraines). It also slightly lowers high blood pressure. Testing has shown it to be one of the most effective fragrances in relaxing brain waves. As a result, it makes an excellent calming massage oil, delightful when combined with the softer lavender. Add a few drops to your bath to counter stress or insomnia. Since it has specific properties that fight the viruses and bacteria responsible for colds, flu, or laryngitis, add a few drops of essential oil to either a chest balm or bath, or put 2 or 3 drops in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. In healing salves and creams, it also soothes burns, bruises, and inflammation. Marjoram is also an antioxidant that naturally preserves food.