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by Jeanne Rose

    Let us start out with the fact that all plants called Marjoram are in the Oregano group, but not all Oreganos are Marjorams. The genus name for both is Origanum. In the past Marjoram used to have its own genus. Now Oregano is the genus and Marjoram, or Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) is only one variety of over fifty types of the genus Oregano. Pot marjoram (Origanum onites) is another species, but even this causes confusion, sometimes being called Cretan Oregano because of its place of origin. In Spain, there is Thymus nummularius, and in Mexico, there is Lippia graveolens; both sold and used in place of Oregano. One last example of how it all is jumbled: Origanum vulgare, or what is taken for common Oregano, is also known as wild Marjoram or Thyme.

     Despite the heavy association of Oregano with Italy, it is likely that Oregano originated in Greece. Ancients Greeks used to let their cattle graze on fields of Oregano, in the belief that it produced tastier meat. Even the name Oregano comes from the Greek, meaning "joy of the mountain."

     Marjoram also enjoys a long and favorable history. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans would crown bridal couples with wreaths of Marjoram to symbolize love, honor and happiness. Over the years, marjoram has been used as a remedy to aid digestion. Marjoram and Oregano continue to be used as a steam inhalant to clear the sinuses and relieve laryngitis. European singers have been known to preserve their voices with marjoram tea sweetened with honey. According to herbalist Dodoen, in the 16th century, smelling marjoram "mundifieth (cleanses) the brayne."The combination of carvacrol and cymene results in an increased antibacterial effect on the growth and a synergistic effect on the viability of Listeria. There are monocytogenes in low concentrations. Can be used to preserve foods or cosmetics. … “Know the Latin binomial – to be assured”

     For more information on the uses of the Marjoram/Oregano/Thyme essential oil and Hydrosols, see 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols by Jeanne Rose.


  Sample Chemistry Scent Description Medicinal Uses
Marjoram, Sweet CT?
(analgesic, soothing)

Origanum majorana

SD - Egypt
unknown sample Herbaceous scent, not quite as biting as the true Carvacrol type. Colorless, clear,
Use as an Antibacterial in products, Direct applications below the neck. A good addition to acne/
boils applications.

Marjoram, Oregano CT
Origanum majorana
SD - France

carvacrol herbaceous and strong bite

Carvacrol is an  irritant to the skin but is also very antibacterial. This Marjoram can be incorporated into many products but not skin care  that is used on a  daily basis.

2 Marjoram, Spanish CT     cineol/camphor
(healing, analgesic)
Thymus mastichina
50% cineole, camphor 
& camphene
Herbaceous (some camphor note) with a sweetness of fruit & some citrus [very little color, clear, non-viscous, 4, ?] This is a type of Thyme that  is used  for calming and with Ylang-Ylang for sleep and to relieve pain. Do not mix this Thyme up with other so-called Marjorams. Can be  used by inhalation or application.

Oregano CT



Origanum compactum
SD - France

at least 20% each cymene/


Strong herbaceous scent with fruit and wood. Light yellow, clear, non-viscous. The combination of carvacrol and cymene results in an increased antibacterial & synergistic effect on the growth & viability of Listeria. It can be used to preserve foods or cosmetics in low concentrations.

Oregano CT


Origanum vulgare
SD - Greece

Carvacrol Herbaceous fruity scent, brown, clear and non-viscous. leaves, stems, flowers are disinfectant, preservative, anti-bacterial. Infusions made from Greek Oregano has wide range of purposes, from a simple cleansing mouthwash to reducing bloat, stomach cramps & coughs.

Thyme CT

Thymus vulgaris

(healing & soothing)
SD - France

high in linalool Herbaceous, fruity & floral but not camphoraceous. Light color, clear, non-viscous. An antibacterial that is  gentle enough for skin-care and all skin care products.  The  only one that should be used in hand wash products for children.

Thyme CT cymene/thymol   Thymus vulgaris
 SD – Bosnia/Herzegovina

30%+ cymene  & 28%  thymol

Herbaceous. Light color, clear and non-viscous. Antibacterial,  use in products, not for skin care. Can be inhaled for colds or  in respiratory formulas.

Thyme CT

Thymus satureioides

SD - Morocco

high in borneol

Herbaceous and floral. Gold, clear, and non-viscous.

An immune-stimulant that is useful in respiratory formulas that are  taken internally. This would be part of the formula, maybe 20% with Ammi visnaga, Tanacetum annuum, & a Mandarin  type


Greek Oregano
genus & species ??
Hydrosol CT carvacrol
dilute to use

high in carvacrol or thymol Very powerful antiseptic odor that is herbaceous and woody. Can be used for housecleaning  or for handwash or mouth wash.. Be sure to dilute before use.

     Aromatherapy Course – Home & Family

     Rose, Jeanne.
375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols


All rights reserved 2007. No part of this article may
be used without the prior permission of Jeanne Rose.
© Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose


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