Catnip (nepeta cateria)
Family: Lamiaceae (mints)
Also known as: Catmint, Catswort, Field balm
Catnip is native to central Europe but is now naturalized across Northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada. Catnip can grow up to 2-3 feet wide and high. Catnip has oval-toothed leaves that range from bright-green to deep-green in color. Catnip produces a lovely pale-purple flower that shoots out the top of the stalks. Catnip is easy to grow in any climate or soil conditions.
Catnip has been used over many century’s not only by cats but humans too. In the 1900’s catnip was used to bring on delayed menses, to help abort unplanned pregnancies and ease menstrual cramps. The dried leaves were smoked to help with respiratory ailments. In the 1960’s it was smoked for its euphoric effects. Many healers also used catnip to help with eating disorders. Catnip is used to flavor sauces, soup, stews and many patented beverages, like fruit table wines and liquors.
Now days you are more likely to see catnip leaves and flowers used in teas or capsule forms. Essential oils and extracts are used in balms, salves and insect repellants. Catnip is a great addition to an herbal medicine cabinet or herb garden. It is easy to grow and doesn’t need much attention. It also helps a good number of ailments.
Parts of the plant used: Leaves and flowers
How to use: tea’s, capsules, essential oil, extras, as compresses, dried or fresh
Digestive: Stomach issues, indigestion, intestinal cramps, increase appetite, upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, and colic, diuretic
Respiratory: cough, congestion, common cold, allergy relief
Reproductive: sooths menstrual cramps, educes delayed menstrual cycles
Skeletal: Arthritis relief, anti-inflammatory
Muscular: anti-inflammatory for sprains and strains
Skin: hemorrhoids, helps bring down swelling in hives and bug bites, repels insects
Mental: insomnia, anxiety, sedative, calms the mind and body, stress relief
Other uses: induce sweating, can help treat cancer, pest repellent, and calms animals.
Drug reactions: lithium or other sedatives
Pregnant/Nursing: Should NOT use, can cause menstruation or unwanted bleeding.
Avoid use if: you have kidney or liver disorders
Notes: Catnip essential oils and extracts may cause a skin reaction. Oils that cause skin reactions need to be mixed with carrier oils. Try a quick skin test to see if you need to dilute the Catnip oil.
How to do a skin test: drop one or two drops of oil on the back of your wrist then check if there is a reaction over the next few hours. If there is a reaction then always dilute with carrier oil before placing said essential oil directly on your skin.
Catnip can help with many ailments; you should do your own research to see if Catnip is a good herb for you and your family. Always consult a medical professional before starting any alternative herbal therapies or stopping any medications you are already prescribed.