Description: Natural Order, Labiatae. This little plant, growing from six to twelve inches high, is found in great quantities in most sections of our country; preferring open woods, where it is sometimes so abundant that it can be mown as grass. Stem slender, erect, slightly pubescent, with numerous slender and erect branches. Leaves small, oblong-ovate, short petiolate. Flowers small, bluish-purple, in loose axillary clusters along the branches; calyx tubular, two-lipped, upper lip three-toothed, lower lip two-cleft; corolla two-lipped, upper lip erect and notched, lower lip three-cleft. Stamens two fertile and two sterile. July to September.
This plant is quite fragrant, of a warming taste, and filling the air for some distance with its odor. Its principal virtues reside in a volatile oil in which it abounds. This oil is easily obtained by distillation, is pungent and pleasant, of a pale lemon color, and a specific gravity of .9-1:8.
Properties and Uses: This plant is relaxant and stimulant, diffusive in its action, gratefully warming to the stomach, and more effective than most of the mints. A warm infusion is a popular remedy in securing perspiration and breaking up recent colds–especially in the case of females who have suffered a sudden obstruction of menstruation. It is quite effective for these purposes; and also in many cases of painful menstruation, diminished lochia, and retarded labor with nervous symptoms. Under the latter circumstances, it makes an admirable combination with caulophyllum. It does not secure a profuse perspiration, but maintains good capillary action on the surface; and it is by thus diminishing hyperaemia of the uterus that it is chiefly advantageous in sudden menstrual obstructions. It also favors the early and free appearance of the eruption in measles, smallpox, and scarlatina; and is one of the best of all the mild agents in such cases. It makes a fair antispasmodic impression on the nervous system, and has been used in hysteria; but probably affords relief only in those cases which are suddenly provoked by menstrual obstruction. It is somewhat carminative, though seldom employed alone for that purpose; yet may be used in wind colic of children. It sometimes allays vomiting. The best method of employing it, is by infusing two drachms of the herb in a pint of warm water, in a covered vessel; of which two fluid ounces may be used every hour or two, or drank ad libitum before going to bed–at the same time bathing the feet in quite warm water. It is commonly combined with more permanent agents.
The oil is a good nervine and light stimulant in liniments designed for sprains, rheumatism, etc. It is rarely used internally, though the essence is occasionally employed as an adjuvant. A few drops on sugar, usually relieve dysmenorrhea.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com