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Catnip Herb

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Catnip is easily grown and has many more uses than just making your cat act drunk.
Catnip is easily grown and has many more uses than just making your cat act drunk. | Source

The catnip herb is well known for its effects on cats but not many people know that there are a variety of health benefits to humans associated with it.

Catnip is also known as:

  • Catmint
  • Catswort
  • Fieldbalm

It is native to Europe but came into the United States with the early settlers. Since then it has become naturalized here. This herb grows well in almost any garden soil and is drought resistant in most cases.

Catnip is a member of the mint family. It grows up to three feet tall and has heart shaped toothed leaves which appear in an opposite pattern on square shaped stems. When it blooms (usually June to September) the flowers are small and tubular - white to lavender with purplish spots.

The flowering tops are the most commonly used part of the plant, often used in catnip tea and other remedies.

Health Benefits of Catnip

There are a variety of health benefits attributed to catnip. Some of them are:

  • It is good to treat fevers because it increases perspiration without raising body temperature.
  • It is often used to treat colds and flu.
  • A mild tea of catnip herb is effective in treating children for colic and restlessness.
  • It relieves intestinal cramping.
  • A poultice of the leaves and flowers can be used to reduce the swelling of soft tissue injuries.
  • Catnip tea has been used to treat small pox and scarlet fever with mixed results.
  • Use to relieve tension headaches.
  • Catnip tea can help you relax and sleep.
  • It can be used as an insect repellent for mosquitoes and fleas.
  • Catnip leaf is a mood elevator.
  • It can bring on delayed menses.
  • It can relieve menstrual cramping.

Catnip and Garlic Cold Remedy

Negative Side Effects of Catnip

Catnip should not be used by pregnant women because it can cause uterine contractions. These could lead to a miscarriage or other complications.

You should not drive or use heavy machinery after you have drank catnip tea because it can cause severe drowsiness, especially if you are susceptible to it.

Drinking the tea in excessive amounts can result in nausea, vomiting, headaches, and intestinal upset.

You can also develop allergies to catnip so if you experience these symptoms you should stop taking the tea or capsules immediately and call your doctor if you don't feel better in an hour or so

This herb doesn't seem to interact with any medications but it is always a good idea to check with your health care provider if you are planning to take a new herb or vitamin.

Using Catnip Herb

Because catnip is related to the mint family it can be used in salads or as a fresh garnish. It is simple to grow and you can have it fresh and available all year.

Some people prefer to drink a tea or use catnip herbs in a tincture or capsule. Always follow the directions for taking herbal medications very carefully. The general dose for an adult is two teaspoons of the dried herb steeped in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes and drunk as a tea. This should be taken three times a day.

Capsules and tinctures are also taken three times a day. Consult the instructions on the container for the proper dose for you.

Growing Catnip in Your Herb Garden

Growing catnip for yourself as well as a special treat for your cat is easy. The plant prefers partial sun or full shade, especially in the hot, dry climates of Texas and other dry areas.

Sow seeds 1/8-inch deep and cover them with a fine potting soil. Gently press down. Germination will take place within twenty days. Thin them when they are 2-inches tall and keep them watered.

That's about all there is to it! Catnip is easy to grow.

Making Catnip Tea for Colds and Flu

Buying Catnip

You can buy catnip bulk, capsules, tea, tincture, seeds, or plants so be sure to choose which fits your current needs. Always buy organically when you can, and from a reputable dealer.

Adding a little catnip to your diet may perk up your mood as well as make your cat a little more interested in being around you.

Catnip is available on Amazon


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great information.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      The first time I mentioned using catnip to someone they looked at me like I grew a second head. I had never heard of using it until a couple of years ago when I met a woman that makes her own organic medical balms and body butters called Mobu Herbals. I was amazed at the different uses it has.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Excellent hub on catnip.Thanks a lot for widening my knowledge on the health benefit of catnip at least a can confidently speak on it for few minutes.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      Catnip is an amazing herb. Thanks for the catnip herb tips! :) Katie

    • profile image

      gogogo 6 years ago

      I enjoyed your article on catnip, did not know very much about it before reading the article. Thanks

    • jalopy profile image

      Christine Seitz 6 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      I just have to note here that if you are using catnip or you buy something with catnip in it and you own cats please remember to put it up in a cat safe place as whatever it's in will be come a kitty play toy you will be cleaning up!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I liked this hub about catnip. I didn't know it was for people either.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I got a kick out of your last sentence. Our cats are already interested enough in being around our front of the computer screen, etc. Ha! Interesting hub about catnip. I was unaware that it could be used by people in salads, teas, etc. Useful hub. Thanks!