Catnip is a must have for your herbal medicine cabinet that is useful for much more than felines. Learn all about catnip benefits and find out why you should keep this herb on hand, especially for little ones!
By Danielle, contributing writer
Catnip, scientific name nepeta cataria, is a plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is also known as cat wort, cat mint, and field mint. It is grown in Europe and North America. The plant has small, purplish-white flowers that tower over serrated tell-tale mint leaves.
It’s renowned for cats love of the herb, however, it is not just for animals. The compound that drives felines wild — nepetalactone — is known for its neurological and sedative effects.
What else is catnip used for?
- Catnip is a great stress reducer due to its calming neurological compounds. It is often used to help treat those with adrenal fatigue.
- This herb has been used to calm both nerves and stomachs for ages. It is generally accepted safe for children, which is why you will find it in gripe waters and digestive aids for even young babies.
- Because of its stress and tension reducing properties, it is often prescribed for tension headaches.
- It is used extensively as a sleep aid for those with insomnia.
- Studies have shown that catnip is a remarkable cough reducer; it is a muscle relaxer as well as antispasmodic.
- It is used to reedy digestive issues, such as cramping, bloating, gassiness, and constipation.
- This herb also contains antiseptic properties, as well as tannins that can halt bleeding, making it a great first aid treatment for cuts and scrapes.
Catnip for Kids
Catnip is an herb that is used extensively for young children — from gripe water for infants to remedies for attention issues such as ADD. Read here more on all of the catnip benefits for children.
Pregnant women should not take catnip as it can stimulate the uterus, as well as those taking certain medications. Talk with your doctor if you are taking pharmaceuticals before adding this herb to your regimen. Do not take catnip that is intended for feline consumption.
Where to Find and How to Use Catnip
Traditionally, catnip is used in teas, soups, jams, and infusions. Both the flower and leaves are edible, and are a wonderful addition to salads or as a topping on soup.
You can find dried catnip leaves and flowers at most health food stores in capsule or tincture form, or in bulk from online stores. You can also wildcraft or grow your own.
The most commonly used form of catnip today is teas. Steep 3-5 leaves (and flowers if you like and have them) into one cup of boiling, filtered water. Allow to sit for 8-10 minutes.
If you would like a stronger brew with enhance the catnip benefits, do a infusion, also called a deconction. Boil a quart of water, and pour into a mason jar with 10-15 leaves (or two teaspoons of catnip tea). Cap with a lid, and allow to sit on your counter until cooled. Drink within a day, or keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. This infusion will have concentrated properties of the herb much stronger than a regular tea.