Catnip

Nepeta cataria (Catnep) Herb 
Catnep, Catnip or Nepeta cataria is mostly known for the behavioral effects they have on cats, not only on domestic cats but also big cats. Catnip is used as a recreational substance for pet cats'enjoyment, and catnip and laced-catnip products designed for use with domesticated cats are available to consumers. Not all cats are affected by catnip. 

Looking surprisingly like nettles, this substantial herb will reach 4 feet and will show white flowers on the end of each stem. Lemon catnep has a lovely lemon scent to the leaves. An excellent addition to the border or the herb garden.If cut back mid season a new flush of growth and flowers will result.

Herb Usage
Catnep is most recognised for its effect on cats, and it has been documented the scent of bruised leaves of Catnep can cause cats to roll in it, paw it, lick it and/or heavily salivate. Some have even been known to exhibit aggressive behaviour in its presence. As a herb, the leaves of Catnep were used for medicinal purposes, but now it is seen as a decorative plant, used in pot pourri.

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Catnip Traditional Medicinal Uses and Health benefits

Active constituents that are found in Catnip include the following: terpene, Acetic acid, Alpha-Citral beta- Citral, Butyric acid, Citronella, Dipentene, Geraniol, Limonene, Nepetalactone, Nepetalic acid, Nerol, Tannin and Valeric acid . The combination of these constituents provide the claimed health benefits of Catnip although limited scientific research would support these claims.

Catnip is one of the herbal medicines that offer varieties of health benefits especially for digestive disorders and to relieve fevers due to colds and flu.

Catnip has been used to calm troubled stomach due to diarrhea, to prevent nausea such as in motion sickness and flatulence.

Decoction of catnip leaves are known to induce sweating thereby improvi05ng body temperature associated with fever, colds and flu while at the same time offering relief from headache and migraine.

Another health benefit that can be derived from catnip is its calming property that is beneficial against nervousness, anxiety, stress, restlessness and sleeplessness (insomnia).

Catnip has a soothing effect and has been used to treat headaches, hysteria, and insanity.

Catnip oil is used in aroma therapy to promote relaxation and calmness.

Decoction of catnip can also offer health benefit for menstruating women, by promoting menstrual flow and relieving stomach cramps.

Decoction made as tea from catnip leaves and flower is found to have strong antispasmodic action that can relieve muscle spasm.

Poultice from leaves and flowers are used to relieve inflammation associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids and soft tissue inflammation.
Decoction of leaves and flowers are also known as diuretic that promotes urination.
Catnip was a remedy for infantile colic (antispasmodic) and flatulence (carminative). It was also stated to cure hiccups.

Catnip poultices were applied to the sore breasts of a nursing mother and to the neck for tonsillitis.

Other uses for catnip have been as a cold remedy, for hives, as a diaphoretic (induces sweating), a refrigerant (cools the body), and an anodyne (relieves pain).
Catnip has also been used as a tonic for whooping cough and measles,  yellow fever, scarlet fever, smallpox, and jaundice.

Catnip has been smoked to relieve respiratory ailments such as asthma, cough and bronchitis.
Catnip was used as a hallucinogenic drug in place of marijuana or as a filler in marijuana. Catnip produces visual and auditory hallucinations that makes people feel happy, contented, and intoxicated, like marijuana. It has not been used recently because marijuana seems to be more readily available and is more dependable in its effects.

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Research: Catnip Health Benefits

Nepeta cataria L. var. citriodora (Becker) increases penile erection in rats.
Because sexual behavior is involved in pleasure, the effect of NC on sexual behavior and penile erection was evaluated in male rats that were acutely fed chow enriched with 10% NC leaves. Further, yawning was monitored because we previously demonstrated that NC modifies dopaminergic-related behaviors and that sexual behavior is closely linked with the dopaminergic system. The general activity and the motor coordination were examined to investigate the possible motor and emotional interferences of the sexual performance. NC treatment increased male rat's penile erection. A slightly facilitation on male rat sexual behavior and a decreased in general activity of NC treated rats were observed. No effects on motor coordination and yawning episodes were detected by the NC treatment.. Source: J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Oct 11;137(3):1318-22.

Phytochemical screening of Nepeta cataria extracts and their in vitro inhibitory effects on free radicals and carbohydrate-metabolising enzymes.
This research was performed to investigate in vitro the biological activities of successive as well as 70% ethanol extracts of Nepeta cataria on some biochemical parameters including oxidative markers and carbohydrate-hydrolysing enzyme activities (α-amylase, β-galactosidase and α-glucosidase). Powdered N. cataria and its successive extracts were screened for their phytochemical constituents. Tests for tannins, carbohydrates, glycosides and flavonoids were positive in ethanolic extract, but those for steroids and terpenoids were positive in petroleum ether and chloroform extracts. Also, different extracts were chromatographically investigated. The results obtained demonstrated that different successive extracts of N. cataria exhibited an inhibitory effect on oxidative stress indices and carbohydrate-hydrolysing enzymes. It is observed that 70% ethanol, petroleum ether and chloroform extracts showed, respectively, the most potent inhibitory activities, while ethyl acetate and ethanol successive extracts appeared with moderate or low reducing activities. Source: Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(23):2196-8.

Is the extract from the plant catmint (Nepeta cataria) repellent to mosquitoes in Australia?
The repellency of Nepeta cataria (catmint or catnip) was tested against Aedes aegypti, Ae. vigilax, Culex annulirostris, and Cx. quinquefasciatus, and compared with a blend of natural plant extracts and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (deet) on human skin. The catmint and natural plant extract blend did not provide the same level of protection from biting mosquitoes as deet. There were significant differences in the level of protection provided by catmint to the 4 species of mosquito, with mean protection times ranging from 0 min for Ae. aegypti up to 240 +/- 60 min for Cx. quinquefasciatus. Significant differences in the mean landing rates of the 4 mosquito species on untreated forearms highlighted the difficulties in comparing laboratory tests of repellents between species. Source: J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2007 Sep;23(3):351-4.


How to Get and How to Use
Where can I get or buy Catnip?
You can also grow your own catnip plant since it can easily grow even in less productive soil. You can get catnip plant from your local nursery or you can cut some stems from a neighbor and plant in your garden. The leaves and flowers can be harvested and processed to herbal medicines. Otherwise the commercial grades such as dried leaves and flowers can be bought in health stores or herbal medicine shops.


Catnip tea or decoction.tea
Prepare about a teaspoon of dried Catnip leaves and flowers for every cup of water.
Boil for 10 to 15 minutes
Let it steep and strain
Store in a glass jar for later consumption
Drink 1 cup, twice to three times a day after meals.
You can add other herbs, honey, milk, coffee and chocolate to improve the taste.


Dosage, Warnings and Side Effects
Catnip use for adults:

Catnip is found to be generally safe for adults. However just like any other medicinal herbs, side effects of over consumption of catnip may include vomiting, headaches, and a general feeling of being sick.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Dried catnip leaves have been long believed to produce mild hallucinogenic effect when smoked and is considered unsafe.

Catnip can promote menstruation, thus, catnip use is discouraged for women with pelvic inflammatory disease or having heavy menstrual flow problems.

Catnip use for young children and breast feeding mothers.

Catnip has a soothing effect and has been used to treat headaches, hysteria, and insanity.

Catnip oil is used in aroma therapy to promote relaxation and calmness.

Decoction of catnip can also offer health benefit for menstruating women, by promoting menstrual flow and relieving stomach cramps.

Decoction made as tea from catnip leaves and flower is found to have strong antispasmodic action that can relieve muscle spasm.

Poultice from leaves and flowers are used to relieve inflammation associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids and soft tissue inflammation.
Decoction of leaves and flowers are also known as diuretic that promotes urination.
Catnip was a remedy for infantile colic (antispasmodic) and flatulence (carminative). It was also stated to cure hiccups.

Catnip poultices were applied to the sore breasts of a nursing mother and to the neck for tonsillitis.

Other uses for catnip have been as a cold remedy, for hives, as a diaphoretic (induces sweating), a refrigerant (cools the body), and an anodyne (relieves pain).
Catnip has also been used as a tonic for whooping cough and measles,  yellow fever, scarlet fever, smallpox, and jaundice.

Catnip has been smoked to relieve respiratory ailments such as asthma, cough and bronchitis.
Catnip was used as a hallucinogenic drug in place of marijuana or as a filler in marijuana. Catnip produces visual and auditory hallucinations that makes people feel happy, contented, and intoxicated, like marijuana. It has not been used recently because marijuana seems to be more readily available and is more dependable in its effects.