Essential Oil Files: Marjoram

As far as essential oils go, marjoram isn't the most attention-seeking scent on the block. This herbaceous, slightly camphorous oil lingers in the nose, not on the memory. Surprising, considering enhancing memory is one of its main functions! Often used as a 'balancing' middle-note oil, this plant is noted for its antibacterial, cephalic, uplifting and mind-clearing properties. Also useful as a muscle-warming oil, marjoram is popular in massage, where it can be used to help heat tissues, reduce the severity of adhesions, and dissolve tension.

Marjoram oil was first used by the Ancient Greeks, who regarded it as a symbol of happiness. They used it as an antidote to poison. It was also used in ancient Egypt as a comforting agent against grief. In medieval Europe, it was often used in herbal bathing bags to scent bath water and soaps.

Marjoram tea is used to help ease stomach ache, and marjoram oil applied on the abdomen can help with digestive discomfort or period pains. Marjoram oil can be used topically (diluted 1 drop: 4mL) as relief for eczema, psoriasis, bug bites and other skin complaints. It is a natural anti-depressant, lifting and inspiring the mind. Finally, the oil is useful in the case of respiratory illness, such as coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis. Marjoram has been shown to have antibacterial properties.

Blends well with: Camphorous, woody and herbal scents, as well as not-too-sweet florals. Works well with rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, sandalwood, neroli and basil.

Sample blends (all in drops):

For memory: 4 rosemary, 4 marjoram, 2 orange, 2 sandalwood on a handkerchief to be inhaled, or diluted in 20 mL of carrier oil, with 50 mL water added, and burnt.

For deep tissue massage: 4 marjoram, 2 tea tree, 3 rosemary, 1 neroli: 15 mL sweet almond carrier oil.

For a stuffy nose: 3 drops marjoram, 3 rosemary, 2 eucalptus, 1 juniper. Inhale on a handkerchief or tissue. Alternatively, double amounts in a small bowl of water. Put towel over head and breathe in fumes.

To keep insects away: 5 marjoram, 5 rosemary, 5 cypress, 3 eucalyptus: 30 mL carrier, in an oil burner with a little water.