This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
This well-known plant, sometimes called catmint (Nepeta Cataria), is a very old medicine, at present more employed in domestic than in regular practice. The whole herb is efficacious; but the leaves only are recognized in our Pharmacopoeia. They have a strong peculiar odour, and a pungent, bitterish, somewhat aromatic taste; but both the smell and taste are disagreeable rather than otherwise. Their virtues, so far as known, depend on their peculiar volatile oil, tannic acid, and a bitter principle, which, however, has not been isolated. They impart their virtues to water and alcohol. In its effects on the system, catnep is a moderately stimulant tonic, with antispasmodic and emmenagogue properties. In cats it is said to act as an aphrodisiac. Certainly these animals exhibit a great fondness for it; and it owes its name to this cause. It is generally used in the form of infusion, which may be made in the proportion of an ounce to the pint, and given, in the dose of one or two fluidounces, in flatulent colic, amenorrhcea, and the different forms of hysteria. The fresh leaves are said to relieve toothache, if chewed, and kept for a few minutes in contact with the diseased tooth.