Catnip, formally Nepeta cataria, is a member of the mint family. It grows to be about 2′ tall. The leaves are downy above and below, a little bigger than peppermint leaves. Catnip is harvested when this critical oil production reaches its peak, and leaves and fragrant flowers are closely air-dried to maintain essential oils in their very best.
Catnip is a native of Europe but has been imported and is now a frequent weed here. Other names include Catmint, Catnep, Catswort, Field Balm, Menta De Gato. Catnip has been used in herbal remedies on people since at least the 15th century. It was the most commonly consumed herbal beverage in Europe before teas in the orient started to be imported. By that the 1890’s, Ojibwe native women were using it. It had a Native name, Gajugensibug, and was regarded as a great tea to drink to bring down fevers, in addition to being pleasant-tasting.
Catnip got its name by providing cats of all sizes a benign”high.” Although many cats will eat it, scientists say they are more interested in the odor than the taste. Felines bite, chew, rub , and roll in catnip to release the volatile oil trapped in the leaves. The cat will usually go crazy for many minutes. Then unexpectedly it will lose interest and walk away only to return and do it again two hours later.
Although nobody knows precisely what happens in the cat’s mind, we do understand that the compound nepetalactone in catnip is what triggers the reaction. The catnip response is inherited, and, though some cats are entirely unaffected by it, even big cats such as tigers can be sensitive to it.
Catnip Leaf Helps Humans With Diseases
For individuals, taken as a hot infusion, catnip promotes perspiration and can be beneficial for colds, flu, fevers, and infectious diseases. It is calming to the nervous system and calming to the stomach. It helps with flatulence, diarrhea, and colic. It can be used as an enema to cleanse and heal the lower bowel (use in diluted form). Catnip helps to avoid a miscarriage and premature birth and reduces the distress of morning sickness.
Catnip is beneficial for young kids. It stimulates the entire body, settles the stomach, and soothes the nerves. The mix of catnip with fennel has been used as a remedy for colic, gas, teething difficulties, and indigestion in kids. It also helps wash out mucus from the body.
Combined with garlic’s infection fighting properties, the duo is a strong enema. It has the capability to induce sleep when producing perspiration without increasing the heat of the machine. This makes it a valuable beverage when someone has a fever. Its sedative action on the nerves adds to its normally relaxing properties.
It is the leaf that has value though essential oils have been taken from the blossoms. It may be bought and used dried, cut, and powdered. Catnip is prepared as a tea, as an extract, or the dried leaves are lightly sprinkled on food. Of course, the dried leaves are made to an herbal pillow for cats.
Catnip is a safe herb but has to be stored properly. As is true with most herbs, Catnip ought to be kept in a dark, dry, and cool location. Refrigeration or freezing prolongs its worth. The petalactone in catnip is UV photosensitive and, so it’s necessary that it be stored from the sun. Some urge caution to be used by pregnant women but others say it’s perfectly safe, even beneficial for expectant moms.