This section is from the book "The London Medical Dictionary", by Bartholomew Parr. Also available from Amazon: London Medical Dictionary.
(Quo'd mense Maio floreat, because it flowers in May). Marjoram.
Majorana cretica, vel Syriaca. See Marum Syriacum.
Majorana majori folio, amaracus, sampsuchua. Sweet marjoram. By amaracus the ancients meant sweet marjoram; but by lesser marjoram, the marum. The Egyptians and Syrians call the sweet marjoram by the name of sampsuchus. It is the origanum majorana Lin. Sp. Pl. 825, a low plant, with slender, square branched, woody stalks; and little, oval, somewhat downy, leaves, set in pairs. On the tops grow scaly heads of small whitish labiated flowers, whose upper lip is erect and cloven, the lower divided into three segments. It is sown annually in gardens for culinary and medicinal uses; but the seeds rarely come to perfection in this climate, and are brought from the south of France, where the plant is indigenous.
The leaves and tops have a pleasant smell, a warm aromatic bitterish taste. Infusions in water have a strong smell, but a weak and unpleasant taste: a tincture made with rectified spirit of wine hath more taste than smell. In distillation this plant yields its virtues to water, and affords an essential oil, in the proportion of i. from lxiv. of the leaves slightly dried, though Beaume obtained a much smaller proportion. This oil is hot, not so agreeable as the marjoram, and when carefully drawn is of a pale yellow colour; though by long keeping it turns reddish, and if distilled with too great heat is red at the first. The dose is.two drops.
The aromatic matter rises almost wholly in distillation, so that an extract possesses very little of the virtues of the plant, which is, like the lavender, a warm, stimulating, nervous medicine. The powdered leaves, the essential oil properly diluted, and the distilled water, are agreeable errhines. In its recent state we are told that it has been successfully applied to scirrhous tumours of the breasts.
Majorana oleracea, sylvestris. See Origanum Anglicum.