The whole herb of Cunila mariani, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: American dittany, Mountain dittany, Stonemint.
Botanical Source.—This is an indigenous, perennial plant, with a fibrous root, and smooth, slender, 4-angled, mostly purplish, corymbosely branched stems, growing 1 or 2 feet high. The leaves are opposite, small, nearly smooth, ovate, serrate, subsessile, roundish or subcordate at the base, tapering to a point, and punctate with pellucid dots. The flowers are white or pale-red, pedunculated, with subulate bracts at the base of the 3-forked pedicels, in corymbose, axillary, and terminal cymes. The corolla is nearly twice as long as the calyx, pubescent, middle lobe longer than the others, upper lip erect, flat, emarginate, and lower lip spreading. The calyx is green, 10-ribbed, equally 5-toothed, hairy in the throat, and punctate. Stamens 2, erect, exserted, distant. Anthers small, didymous; stigma bifid, exserted; seeds 4, small, obovate (W.—G.).
History and Chemical Composition.—Dittany is found growing in dry hills and woods, and on rocks, in nearly all parts of the United States, flowering from June to October. The herb is very fragrant, with a warm, spicy taste; its taste and odor are due to a volatile oil which may be procured by distillation. Mr. P. Milleman found the herb to contain a warm, pungent, delicately fragrant, volatile oil, tannic acid, a trace of glucose, gummy matter, considerable extractive matter, a part of which was bitter and acid, and dark-green resin; the ashes gave salts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1866, p. 495).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, and diaphoretic. Used freely in warm infusion to promote perspiration, to relieve flatulency, and as an emmenagogue. Popularly employed for colds, headaches, and fevers; also to relieve nervous headache, and hysterical disorders, colic, indigestion, and many nervous affections. The volatile oil possesses all the medicinal properties of the herb, and may be given in doses of from 5 to 10 drops.
Related Species.—Dictamnus albus, Bastard dittany, White fraxinella. A bitter, aromatic root-bark used by Baron Störck for worms, epilepsy, hysteria, amenorrhoea, and intermittent fevers. Dose, 20 to 60 grains.