Catnip: A Soothing Botanical Remedy

Many intriguing stories come along with the herb, catnip (Nepeta cataria), also known as catmint. There’s folklore regarding women ingesting catnip and being turned into…you guessed it, cats. And, the more credible lore about cats exhibiting strange behavior around the plant. While big cats and domestic kitties alike get happy, spunky, and amorous after nibbling catnip, the herb has a more calming effect on people. Rich in B vitamins (so great for those following plant-based diets), catnip is a versatile herb for holistic remedies.

An herbal favorite since ancient times, catnip made its way across the Mediterranean, Europe and to the Americas where it is widely used by Native Americans. A gentle herb with calming effects, catnip is useful for adults and children alike and in a variety of ways. You’ll find catnip as an ingredient in products such as:

lotions, ointments, creams
soaps, shampoos and conditioners
bath salts, body scrubs
face masks and skin cleansers
natural insect repellants
ancient formulas for love potions (though we can’t confirm or deny effectiveness!)

As a medicinal herb, catnip can be made into a tea, tincture, powder, or capsule. A liquid topical solution can also be formed of the leaves and stem. Catnip has a wide variety of properties including sedative, anesthetic, antiseptic, antibiotic, astringent, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal. In various formulations, catnip may be used by qualified holistic practitioners to help with anxiety, hives, colic, indigestion, insomnia, hyperactivity, diarrhea, upset stomachs, and flatulence. Though known to be gentle for most people, consult with your health practitioner before adding a new botanical medicine to your regimen. Pregnant and nursing women should not ingest catnip as it may produce uterine contractions.

If you would like to grow catnip, it is best to do so in a container, since it can be invasive in some areas. You will be delighted by this gray-green perennial’s fuzzy leaves and tall stem adorned with heart-shaped lavender and pinkish-hued flowers.


Mountain Rose Herbals “Catnip”