Getting its name due to the sedating effect it has on cats, catnip is also known as catmint and catswort. Catnip can be applied externally in the form of an oil extracted from its leaves or can be consumed internally in the form of tea brewed from its leaves. In addition to its culinary uses, catnip is mostly used as an extract in tea, juices, and tinctures; it is inhaled by smoking in the leaves of the herb. The plant is known to benefit conditions such as stress, menstrual pain, cold, fever, insomnia, anxiety, etc.
Belonging to the mint family, the leaves of the catnip are coarse, brownish green and triangular or elliptical in shape. The flowers however are fragrant and colourful commonly pink or white with purple spots on them. It is a low perennial plant that grows in the form of loose branches. It is considered to be an ornamental plant commonly known to attract butterflies and cats.
Catnip is composed 70% to 90% of nepetalactone and its isomers. It is an anti-spasmodic agent and is equipped with sedative properties. Catnip also contains reasonable amounts of humulene oxide, thymol methyl ether, hexenyl benzoate and piperitone.
Catnip has potent nervine properties that enable it to alleviate and prevent conditions affecting the central nervous system. It is thus, considered to be a highly effective natural herb for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, vertigo, indigestion, nervousness related anxiety.
Catnip is known to effectively tackle sleep restlessness and insomnia. Owing to nepetalactone, catnip induces a feeling of calm and relaxation acting as a natural sleep aid. This natural herb is a safe sedative to be used instead of sleep inducing pharmaceutical drugs that are responsible for widely known side-effects. A cup of catnip tea before going to bed comes a long way in rendering a sound sleep.
Catnip acts as a stress-reliever due to its sedating properties. It also helps alleviate chronic anxiety when consumed orally in the form of tea, juice or its leaves smoked in. It boosts the immune strength and keeps symptoms of chronic stress at bay.
When the body is faced with a condition like cold and flu, it is imperative for the toxins in the body to be flushed out in order to speed up the healing process. The flushing out of toxins is made possible by way of sweating and urination. Catnip results in increased sweating that prevents the pathogens and harmful toxins from being contained in the body and flushes them out intensively. It thus speeds up the healing process of the body and is commonly used as an alternate drug to treat common cold and fever.
Catnip is commonly known to repel certain types of bugs and insects. Apart from being an ornamental plant, catnip also has healing properties for soothing bug bites and alleviating irritation caused due to inflammation. Applying extract of the catnip leaves on the affected area of the skin soothes and heals it reducing inflammation and repairing the broken skin.
Catnip is known to effectively reduce and banish headaches, chronic migraine. In the event of a headache, sipping hot catnip tea or applying catnip oil on the temples helps relieve the ache. Due to the soothing and sedating qualities of the herb, it effectively alleviates migraine pain and induces calm.
Catnip effectively tackles with digestive problems such as constipation, bloating of the stomach, cramping, flatulence, etc. It also aids with reducing and eliminating inflammation in the gastrointestinal system, relieves discomfort and tightness of the stomach.
Apart from tackling common menstruation problems like mood swings, depression and restlessness, catnip is known to effectively reduce and eliminate menstrual cramps. Catnip tea is highly recommended for women suffering from menstrual cramps as it soothes the pain and speeds up the healing process of the breakage.
Catnip is a complete nutritional compound in its own right. It is composed of minerals like phosphorous, manganese, sodium, sulphur and other nutritional compounds like acetic acid, nepetalic acid, etc. Being a diaphoretic agent, catnip leads to increased perspiration. This enables all harmful toxins to be flushed out from the body, improves the rate of metabolism and eventually the rate of fat burning process of the body.
Catnip is an effective remedy for inflammatory disorders like gout, sprained muscles, arthritis and hemorrhoids. Catnip used in the form of tea or its applied on the affected area helps eliminate and reduce inflammatory symptoms.
Due to its efficiency as a sedating agent, catnip is highly effective in treating problems like inflammation, indigestion, insomnia, stress, migraine and menstrual cramps. It induces relaxation and eliminates stress, anxiety, boosts the metabolism and the body’s healing process.
Due to its emmenagogue property, catnip is advised to be not consumed by pregnant women. For women planning to conceive too, since catnip promotes menstrual flow, it is advised to be refrained from.
The catnip herb is three to four feet tall that grows well in rich loam but is adept at growing in any type of soil. It grows in both sunlight and shade and is planted in rows around 12 to 18 inches apart. Catnip is widely grown in North America, northern Europe and New Zealand.