This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Calamint: a plant with square stalks: the leaves set in pairs; the flowers on branched pedicles, whereof two issue from one joint in the bosoms of the leaves: the upper lip of the flower is divided into two segments, the lower lip into three. It is perennial, and flowers in July and August.
Lap. cala-min. praepa-ratus Ph.
Cerat. lapidis calaminaris Ph. Lond.
Cerat. e la-pide cala-minari Ph.
1. Calamintha pulegii odore seu nepeta C. B. Meliffa nepeta Linn. Calamint, field calamint: with reclining stalks; small, irregularly oval leaves, very slightly indented, without pedicles; and the flower-stalks longer than the leaves. It grows wild in dry grounds, and by the sides of fields.
This herb has a strong aromatic smell, approaching to that of pennyroyal; and a moderately pungent taste, somewhat like that of spearmint, but warmer. In virtue, it appears to be nearly similar to a mixture of those herbs: infusions of the leaves are drank as tea, in weaknesses of the stomach, flatulent colics, and uterine obstructions.
Water extracts by infusion nearly all the virtues of the calamint; and carries off, in evaporation, the whole of its specific flavour. In distillation with water, there separates from the aqueous fluid a considerable quantity of essential oil, of a very pungent taste, and smell-ing strongly of the herb. The remaining decoction, thus divested of the aromatic part of the plant, is unpleasantly roughish, bitterish, and mucilaginous.
Rectified spirit extracts the virtues of the calamint more perfectly than water, and gains from it a deep green tincture. On gently distilling the filtered liquor, a part of the flavour of the herb rises with the spirit, and a part remains behind in the infpiffated extract. Spirit manifestly brings over more from this plant than from spearmint, and less than from pennyroyal; its active matter being more volatile than that of the one, and less so than that of the other.
2. Calamintha vulgaris vel officinarum ger-mania C. B. Melissa Calamintha Linn. Common calamint, so called: with upright stalks; larger, short, serrated, pointed leaves, set on pedicles; and the flower-stalks of the length of the leaves. It is found wild about the sides of highways, but is less common, in this country, than the other.
The leaves of this species are in taste weaker than those of the preceding. Their smell is strong, not like that of pennyroyal, but rather approaching to that of the wild mints, though more agreeable. The essential oils of the two plants differ in flavour as the herbs themselves: in the spirituous extracts the difference is less considerable. They are supposed to agree in virtue, and have been used indiscriminately; the shops being generally supplied with the species which is most easily procurable.
3. Calamintha magno flore Pharm. Paris. & C. B. Calamintha montana flore magno ex calyce longo J. B. Melissa grandiflora Linn. Mountain calamint: with larger leaves and flowers than the two preceding, but smaller stalks; the leaves set on pedicles, pointed, acutely and deeply serrated like those of nettles; the flower-stalks shorter than the leaves, and of the length of the flowers themselves. It is a native of the southern parts of Europe, and raised with us in gardens.
This species has a moderately pungent taste, and a more agreeable aromatic smell than either of the other calamints. It appears to be the most eligible of the three as a stomachic.