Catnip’s Not Just For Cats

Have you ever seen a cat’s reaction to catnip? Oh, I think it’s just delightful. While I am not a cat owner, over time my wife and I have had our share of feline visitors to our catnip patch. They flop right down into the center of the plant, and curl their spines into a flexible, worm-like shape. Their little paws bat away at the air, and their bright yellow eyes come to focus on, well, nothing. Sometimes they completely squint shut. A cat’s almost instantaneous reaction to catnip exposure is a state of blissful zoned-out-ness.

Something interesting about catnip, which is a member of the mint family and also a very distant relative to marijuana, is that it is a stimulant only when inhaled. Oftentimes, cats begin by rolling in catnip to release its essential oil, which is called nepetalactone. So when kitty rolls around in the plant and bats the air, he is releasing this natural oil, and stimulating his feel-good pheromones. However, when this oil is ingested, it actually has sedative effect. So if you notice kitty has fallen asleep after about 5-10 minutes, it is probably because he has licked or eaten the leaves.

For cat owners everywhere, catnip in either its fresh or dried state has provided hours of entertainment. But what most people do not know is that catnip is beneficial for humans, too. I have used the catnip plant from my Survival Herb Bank in order to treat colds, respiratory infections, and the flu. It is powerful enough to even treat nasty infections such as bronchitis, and reoccurring conditions such as asthma.

To treat a cold, chest congestion, or respiratory infection, try pouring one cup of boiling water over one teaspoon of dried or fresh-cut catnip leaves. Keep your teapot lid on so that none of the valuable oils escape in steam, and let this steep for 10 minutes. Then, strain out the catnip leaves before drinking the tea. I do not find the flavor of catnip unpleasant at all. In fact, it is quite nice. But if you wish to flavor your tea, you can add some honey or lemon.

Catnip is also helpful in treating a variety of other ailments including diarrhea, stomach-ache, and heartburn. It is great at reducing headaches, anxiety, and tension, and also for inducing sleep. It is gentle enough to be used with infants and is very good at treating colic. For children under one year of age, only 5% of an adult dose needs to be used, so use only a pinch of dried catnip. Try mixing it in with your baby’s bath water so that he or she can inhale the soothing oils. One thing to note is that because it may increase menstrual bleeding, catnip should not be used by pregnant women or women with menstrual disorders.

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1 comment so far

  1. […] contains heirloom seeds for several powerful medicinal herbs. One that I use very frequently is catnip. People are always surprised by the great number of uses there are for this herb. Additional […]


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