Essential Oils


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Calamintha-Calamintha officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)


C.clinopodium, Melissa calaminta, calamint, common calamint, mill mountain, mountain balm, mountain mint, basil thyme,nepeta (oil), French Marjoram (oil) wild basil (oil, catnip (oil)

General Description

An erect, bushy, perennial plant not more than one metre high, with square stems, soft oval serrated leaves, greyiosh-green beneath, and rather inconspiously pale purple flowers. The whole lant has a strong aromatic scent which is attractive to cats.


Native to Europe and parts of Asia (Himalayas), naturalized throughout North America and South Africa. Cultivated for its oil in the Mediterranean region, Yogoslavia, Poland and in the USA.

Other Species

There are numerous similar species found throughout the world, such as the lesser calamintha (C.nepeta) which has a stronger odour and is often used interchangeably with common calamint.

It is also closely related to catmint or catnip (Nepeta cataria) also known as calamint, with which it shares similar properties.

Not to be confused with winter and summer savory (Satureja montana and S.hortensis).

Herbal/Folk Tradition

It has a long history of use as a herbal remedy mainly for nervous and digestive complaints, also menstrual pain, colds, chills and cramps. Catmint is current in the British Herbal Pharmacopia as a specific for flstulent colic in children and for the common cold.


Anaesthetic (local), antirheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, sedative, tonic.


Essential oil by steam distillation from the flowering tops.


A pale yellow liquid with a herbaceous woody, pungent odour, somewhat resembling pennyroyal.
Principal Constituents

Citral, nerol, citronellol, limonene, and geraniol, among others. The active ingredient that attracts cats is metatabilacetone (3-5 percent). Constituents vary accordig to source.

Safety Data

Non-irritant, non-sensitizing; possible toxic effects in concentration. (The Chinese shrub Actinidia polygama also contains metatabilacetone, which is responsible for its hallucinogenic and narcotic effects.) Use in moderation. Avoid during Pregnancy.

Aromatherapy/Home Use

Circulation Muscles and Joints

Chills, cold in the joints, muscular aches and pains, rehumatism.

Digestive System

Colic, Flatulence, nervous dyspepsia.

Nervous System

Insomnia, nervous tension and stress-related conditions.

Other Uses:

Used as a wild cat lure in the USA.

Occasionally used in perfumery work.

Reference: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Julia Lawless 


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