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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics

Calamint / Mountain Mint

(Calamintha Officinalis, Calamintha Nepeta)

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  • Basil-Thyme (Calamint) Description
  • Basil-Thyme (Calamint) Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Basil-Thyme (Calamint) Dosage Information
  • Basil-Thyme (Calamint) Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Basil-Thyme (Calamint) Supplements & Products

  • calamintha nepeta



    Basil Thyme (Calamintha nepeta / Calamintha officinalis) is also known as Calamint and Mountain Mint.

    This is a hairy perennial herb that grows 1 to 2.5 feet tall, with creeping rhizomes. It has oval leaves that are toothed and aromatic, similar to thyme leaves. This plant has white to pinkish lilac flowers in loose clusters at the ends of the stems and branches. The ancients attributed a poem to Orpheus, singing the praises of the tall fruit tree and in the 2nd century, the Greek doctor Galen, prescribed Basil Thyme leaves for healing the marks of bruising. In the 15th century, an extract was said to stimulate urine flow and help treat jaundice. It was also used as a snakebite remedy.

    calamintha nepeta

    There is some confusion as to which species or subspecies of the genus Calamintha is associated with the plant Basil-Thyme, so this information has been included on this page.


    Calamintha is a genus of plants that belongs to the family Lamiaceae. Commonly called the calamints, there are about eight species in the genus (around 30 before revisions in taxonomy) which is native to the northern temperate regions of Europe, Asia and America. Calamintha species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora albitarsella.


  • Calamintha acinos - a synonym for Acinos arvensis, also called basil thyme.
  • Calamintha alpina - a synonym for Acinos alpinus, the Alpine Calamint.
  • Calamintha ascendens - a synonym for Calamintha sylvatica.
  • Calamintha ashei.
  • Calamintha baetica - a synonym for Calamintha sylvatica.
  • Calamintha baumgarteni.
  • Calamintha chinensis - a synonym for Clinopodium chinense.
  • Calamintha clinopodium - a synonym for Clinopodium vulgare, the Wild Basil.
  • Calamintha coccinea.
  • Calamintha dentata.
  • Calamintha exigua - a synonym for Acinos rotundifolius.
  • Calamintha grandiflora - Large-Flowered Calamint, an ornamental plant.
  • Calamintha graveolens - a synonym for Acinos rotundifolius.
  • Calamintha nepeta - Lesser Calamint,
  • Calamintha nepetoides - a synonym for Calamintha nepeta.
  • Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta.
  • Calamintha officinalis - a synonym for Calamintha sylvatica
  • Calamintha sylvatica, Common Calamint, a low-growing plant with a minty smell and lavender flowers. It prefers alkaline soil. The leaves can be used to make tea.
  • Calamintha sylvatica ascendens - an earlier name for Calamintha sylvatica.
  • Calamintha umbrosa - a synonym for Clinopodium umbrosum.
  • Calamintha vulgaris - a synonym for Clinopodium vulgare, The Wild Basil


    Calamintha species are used in the popular Middle Eastern culinary blend called za'atar. Za'atar is a general name for any Middle Eastern herb from the genera Origanum (oregano), Calamintha (calamint), Thymus (thyme) and Satureja (savory). It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb(s), mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, often salt, and other spices. According to Nissim Krispil, an ethno-botanist and folklore researcher, Calamintha incana aids the birthing woman (also for those with uterus problems) providing substantial relief. Cook 2 handfuls of leaves and stems in 1 liter water, allow boiling for 3 minutes. drink 4 to 5 cups a day.


    Botanical: Calamintha officinalis (MOENCH)
    Family: N.O. Labiatae
    Synonyms: Mill Mountain. Mountain Balm. Basil Thyme. Mountain Mint.
    Part Used: Herb.


    Calamint belongs to a genus closely related to both the Thymes and to Catnep and Ground Ivy. It is an erect, bushy plant with square stems, rarely more than a foot high, bearing pairs of opposite leaves, which, like the stems, are downy with soft hairs. The flowers bloom in July and August, and are somewhat inconspicuous, drooping gracefully before expansion: the corollas are of a light purple color. The plant grows by waysides and in hedges, and is not uncommon, especially in dry places. It may be cultivated as a hardy perennial, propagated by seeds sown outdoors in April, by cuttings of side shoots in cold frames in spring, or by division of roots in October and April.


    It contains a camphoraceous, volatile, stimulating oil in commonwith the other mints. This is distilled by water, but its virtues are better extracted by rectified spirit.


    Diaphoretic, expectorant, aromatic. The whole herb has a sweet, aromatic odor and an infusion of the dried leaves, collected about July, when in their best condition and dried in the same way as Catmint tops, makes a pleasant cordial tea, which was formerly much taken for weaknesses of the stomach and flatulent colic. It is useful in hysterical complaints, and a conserve made of the young fresh tops has been used, for this purpose.

    Culpepper says that it 'is very efficacious in all afflictions of the brain,' that it 'relieves convulsions and cramps, shortness of breath or choleric pains in the stomach or bowels,' and that 'it cures the yellow jaundice.' He also recommends it, taken with salt and honey, for killing worms: 'It relieves those who have the leprosy, taken inwardly, drinking whey after it, or the green herb outwardly applied, and that it taketh away black and blue marks in the face, and maketh black scars become well coloured, if the green herb (not the dry) be boiled in wine and laid to the place or the place washed therewith.' He also considers it 'helpful to them that have a tertian ague,' and beneficial in all disorders of the gall and spleen. Gerard says, 'the seede cureth the infirmities of the hart, taketh away sorrowfulnesse which commeth of melancholie, and maketh a man merrie and glad.'

    The LESSER CALAMINT (Calamintha nepeta) is a variety of the herb possessing almost superior virtues, with a stronger odour, resembling that of Pennyroyal, and a moderately pungent taste somewhat like Spearmint, but warmer. It is scarcely distinct from C. officinalis, and by some botanists is considered a sub-species. The leaves are more strongly toothed, and it bears its flowers on longer stalks. Both this and the Common Calamint seem to have been used indifferently in the old practice of medicine under the name of Calamint.

    Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) is a member of the Mint family, and is used in Italian cuisine where it is called mentuccia, nipitella or nepitella.


    Lesser Calamint grows as a beautiful perennial shrub for the herbal border forming a compact mound of shiny, green oregano-like leaves which become covered with lavender pink flowers to a height of 18 inches. The Lesser Calamint plant smells like a cross between mint, and oregano, and attracts honeybees and butterflies. Lesser Calamint usually grows in the Summer, and well into the Fall. This plant needs not to be replanted year after year, as it can become dormant in the winter months, then reblossom in the spring. Furthermore, in the Fall, the plant's flowers, which contain seeds, fall to the ground, and will "plant themselves," therefore making a new plant blossom in the Spring. These flowers will start to appear in late August. Lesser Calamint often grows wild, but can be planted in pots for convenience. The life expectancy for an average Lesser Calamint plant is about 3 to 4 years. The only problem with this plant is that a powdery mildew might occur on the plant

    The name of the genus, Calamintha, is derived from the Greek Kalos (excellent because of the ancient belief in its power to drive away serpents and the dreaded basilisk - the fabled king of the serpents, whose very glance was fatal.


    Today herbalists recommend a decoction of an extract of Basil Thyme for inducing perspiration to break a fever, and for use as an expectorant.


    Basil Thyme comes in various forms and can be an ingredient in many products. For best results, read and follow product label directions.



    Basil Thyme is generally regarded as safe when taken in the recommended doses.

    If you are taking any medications (prescription or over-the-counter), it is best to consult with your health care provider before taking this herb for the treatment of your condition. Safety in children, pregnant or nursing women, or with those suffering from liver or kidney is not known.


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