When thinking about catnip uses most people think about cats and catnip but did you know that it has many medicinal uses for humans? In fact, catnip has the opposite effect on people that it does for cats. It has been used for thousands of years as a mild sedative, a digestive aid and much more.
Catnip (Nepata cataria also known as Catmint or Field Balm) is a member of the mint family (Labiatae). It is a perennial herb that is said to grow up to 3 feet though my plants are closer to 4. The root sends up square, erect, and branched stems which are very leafy and are covered with a downy gray hair. The leaves are heart-shaped and toothed and covered with a soft, close down (especially on the undersides). It has white or pale purple flowers that bloom in late summer. The strong minty aroma is the nepetalactone contained in catnip. This is the substance that binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria. But enough about cats, let's look at some catnip uses for us!
Catnip tea has been used medicinally for centuries though I much prefer to make a tincture with my homegrown catnip. Here's some of the medicinal benefits it is known for:
- Mild Sedative - This is probably the most popular uses for catnip. It's soothing, calming properties make it an excellent remedy for insomnia or just nervous tension. It has been said that it can even soothe an upset baby by making a cup of strong catnip tea and add it to your babies bathwater. The vapors would help relax the child and promote rest. Try this in your own bath!
- Digestion - Catnip is antispasmodic and can help calm upset stomachs, reduce gas, flatulence, bloating, heartburn and diarrhea.
- Muscle Spasms - Again it's antispamodic properties help prevent and relieve muscle spasms.
- Stimulates Menstrual Flow - For this reason pregnant women should avoid using catnip!
- Chest Congestion - Sip a cup of hot catnip tea and breathe in the vapors to help relieve congestion from a cold or flu.
- Reduce Fevers - Catnip tea will help promote sweating so keep sipping your tea until the fever breaks.
- Catnip Insect Repellent - The oils in catnip are a natural insect repellent. You can use the fresh plant by rubbing directly on your skin or use a tincture or catnip essential oil to make your own deet-free repellent.
- Smoking Catnip - It's funny that catnip uses include smoking the dried herb. It's said that smoking it has an effect (similar but milder) much like smoking marijuana. I haven't tried this myself but let us know if you have!
MORE ABOUT CATNIP
When to Harvest Catnip - Catnip is most potent right before flowering but you can use it any time you like. All above ground parts of the plant can be used including leaves, stems and flowers.
Catnip for Dogs - Catnip can be used as a mild sedative for dogs too! Make some tea and mix it in their food or give them a few drops of catnip tincture.
How to Make Catnip Tea - Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon dried catnip or a small handful of fresh. Depending on your tastebuds you can adjust the amount. Cover the cup and steep the tea for 5-10 minutes. You can sweeten it with a little honey if you like. Honey has it's own medicinal properties. Relax, sip and enjoy!
Oh yeah, don't forget to save some for your favorite feline!
Catnip Uses was found under HOME HERBAL
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