Scientific Name:Nepeta cataria
About this Herb:This member of the mint family has erect, square, branched stems, growing to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The catnip plant sports heart-shaped, toothed leaves in an opposite pattern, which are covered with fine downy hairs, especially on the under sides, giving the plant a grayish appearance. The small, tubular, two-lipped flowers grow in whorls that become denser as they approach the summit. The flowers are white to lavender with reddish-purple spots. This herb blooms from June to September and has a strong minty fragrance.
As we know, most cats seem to enjoy Catnip. It seems to have a variety of effects on them. Some roll around and appear to be high while others just become hyper and run around leaping and such.
Its effects on humans are more sedative. (See uses)
The entire above-the-ground plant can be gathered just after full bloom and dried. The flowering tops are most commonly used in medicinal applications. The root should be avoided as it is said to make one aggressive and irritable.
Common Names:True Catnip, Catmint, Field Balm, Catswort, Cataria, Cat's Heal All, Cat's-play, Cat's Wort, Catwort, Garden Nep,
Uses:Catnip has a diaphoretic effect (increasing perspiration without raising body temperature) and anti-pyretic (anti-fever) effects. This leads to its uses to treat colds and as an herbal remedy for symptoms of the flu (influenza).
The tonic and antispasmodic qualities of this herb help to relieve many gastrointestinal disorders and cramping.
A mild tea made of catnip may be effective in treating colic, restlessness, motion sickness and nervousness in children.
A poultice of the leaves and flowers of Catnip can be applied to reduce swelling from rheumatism, soft-tissue injuries and other inflammatory conditions.
A mixture of catnip tea and saffron has shown promise in treating scarlet-fever and small-pox.
Catnip is also used as a muscle relaxant and mild sedative, which is why it is often used to relieve the pain of headaches (especially tension headaches.) This also explains its use to combat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
This plant has been used to bring about the menses in delayed menstruation and increase tone in the uterus.
The essential oil, nepetalactone, found in catnip, has been shown to be at least as effective as DEET as an insect repellant. This also works as a flea treatment in animals or on carpets.
This herb is often used for seasoning foods and meat tenderizing.
Catnip can be used as an herb or seasoning on salads. It can also be steeped as a tea. The tea is said to be a preventative against colic when given to newborns. In fact, my granny brewed some and gave it to all three of my children as soon as I brought them home from the hospital. They never had colic and were exceptionally good babies, whether that is due to the tea or not I cannot say for sure. The oils may be extracted and taken in capsule form or used externally. It is easier to buy the oil or capsule than to try an extract it yourself. The oils or a potpourri concoction may be used for aroma therapy.
Applications:Tea: The tea may be prepared by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons to 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water. Steep for 10 minutes then strain. It is common to take the capsules or tea three times daily.
Capsule: Follow instructions on bottle.
Poultice: Use leaves and flowers and apply to affected area. See Methods for instruction on make a poultice.