The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
ORIGANUM, WILD MARJORAM
Description: Natural Order, Labiatae. The origanum has a perennial root, and an annual stem which is from one to two feet high, erect, purplish, four-sided, hairy, and corymbose-branched above. Leaves opposite, broad-ovate, slightly serrate, hairy, yellowish-green, dotted. Flowers in oblong and crowded spikes, subtended by broad-ovate and purplish bracts; calyx ovate bell- shaped, five-toothed, striate; corolla tubular funnel-form, purplish rose-colored, slightly two- lipped, upper lip erect and notched, lower lip of three nearly equal and spreading lobes. June to October.
This plant grows in great abundance in Europe, and is found in moderate quantities by the road sides in light soils in some parts of America. It is allied to the sweet marjoram of our gardens. Distillation obtains from it a considerable quantity of a fluid and transparent volatile oil, which, at first, is yellowish, but becomes reddish by age. It is of a pleasant and penetrating smell, and quite pungent taste. The greater portion of that on the market is imported from Europe; and much of this is in reality manufactured from the common thyme, and adulterated with spirits of turpentine.
Properties and Uses: This plant is rarely used internally; but is a diaphoretic stimulant quite similar to monarda. The principal use made of it is as an external stimulant and rubefacient, for which purposes its oil is one of the most desirable of all the essential oils. It is much more stimulating than spearmint, more so than hemlock, but not so much so as cloves or cajeput. The Stimulating Liniment and Opodeldoc contain it as an important ingredient; and it is similarly combined with other volatile oils in liniments of all grades of stimulation.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com