A woody, perennial shrub, Thymus Mastichina is also known by the names Wild Marjoram, Sweet Marjoram, Mastic Thyme, or Marjoram Spanish. It grows best in well-drained sandy or loamy soils, full sunshine, and either dry or moist soil conditions. This bushy, evergreen plant produces oval leaves featuring a deep green color. Tiny white flowers grow in small clusters that appear during the summer months of July and August. The Thymus Mastichina grows to approximately one foot in height to two feet in width, although these numbers vary since climate and growing medium impact the growth of this evergreen shrub.
A native plant of Portugal and the central area of Spain, the Thymus Mastichina is classified as an aromatic herb. Despite this fact, the plant is prized more for its essential oils than for its herbal properties. It is infrequently used as a culinary herb, however, although it may be used fresh or in dried form. Its leaves are used to make an herbal tea that is considered useful in treating sore throats and colds. If preferred, the tea can be used to gargle with rather than ingested. Generally, the leaves are harvested prior to the flowering of the plant if dried leaves are desired for any purpose. Wild Thyme (Thymus sperpyllus) and Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) are more commonly used as herbs or condiments.
Oil of marjoram is steam distilled from the leaves or roots of the Thymus Mastichina and sometimes from its flowers. This essential oil offers a rich woodsy fragrance that features eucalyptus-like notes, a scent used in aromatherapy practices to induce relaxation and a sense of inner peace. As a result, this essential oil is also used to aid in relaxing muscles that are sore, tired, aching, or strained. It is sometimes used in products designed to provide relief for rheumatism and arthritis.
Since the oil features a warm, spicy scent that is reminiscent of nutmeg, pepper, camphor, and mint, with eucalyptus-like notes as mentioned previously. It is commonly used in aromatherapy as massage oil that is known to warm and invigorate the skin while it induces relaxation for the spirit. These capabilities make it a go-to oil for individuals who need to de-stress after busy days. It is also used to massage the abdomen in hopes of bringing relief to those women who suffer from menstrual cramps. The essential oil derived from Thymus Mastichina blends well with a number of other herbs including camphor, cedarwood, cypress, chamomile, mandarin, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, nutmeg, ylang ylang, and orange.
Oil of marjoram also contains high levels of cucalyptol. This results in the need to dilute this essential oil to contain a lower concentration of cucalyptol for aromatherapy purposes in order to avoid contact dermatitis, a type of skin rash. Accordingly, essential oil derived from Thymus Mastichina is also diluted for use in skin care formulas for the same reasons. The levels included in beauty formulas are carefully monitored to ensure that they are mild.
Essential oil of Thymus Mastichina also contains a high concentration of linalools, a component that produces potent antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal capabilities when used in skin care formulations. As a result, the oil is often included in acne treatments designed to control breakouts as well as in formulations intended to control dermatitis that is being caused by infection, irritation caused by shaving, or redness and irritation resulting from sunburn.
The results of a study presented at the Second World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants for Human Welfare (1999) suggest that the essential oil of Thymus Mastichina has antimicrobial capabilities against various strains of Listeria monocytogenes as well as against a strain of Staphylococcus aureus. While studies are needed to more fully explore the antioxidant benefits of Thymus Mastichina, popular belief among herbalists and the skin care industry is that they do exist.
Since the essential oil of Thymus Mastichina offers a relaxing eucalyptus-like fragrance, its inclusion in scented soaps, perfumed bath oils, and overnight skin creams delivers a calming sensation. In addition to skin care products, Thymus Mastichina essential oil is blended into hair products including shampoos designed to bring relief to inflamed scalps. It has even found its way into deodorants, mouthwash, and perfumes.