Catnip Leaves Give Cats A Harmless High But Helps Humans

Catnip, a member of the mint family, has the official name Nepeta cataria. Fully grown it is about 2′ tall. The leaves, slightly larger than peppermint, are downy above and below. When its essential oil production reaches its peak, catnip is harvested. The leaves and fragrant flowers are then carefully dried to preserve these oils.

Catnip Plant is a native of Europe but was imported to US and is now a common weed here. Other names include Catmint, Catnep, Catswort, Field Balm, Menta De Gato. Catnip has been used in herbal remedies on humans since at least the 15th century. It was the most commonly consumed herbal drink in Europe before teas from the orient began to be imported. By the 1890′s, Ojibwe native women were using it. It had a Native name, Gajugensibug, and was said to be a good tea to drink to bring down fevers, as well as being pleasant-tasting.

As you might suspect, catnip got its name because of its affect on cats. Cats are most interested in the smell of the plant. Cats will rub against, bite, chew, and roll in catnip – generally go crazy for several minutes. This will release the volatile oil trapped in the leaves. Then suddenly the cat will lose interest and walk away. Two hours later he could return and do it. Why he acts like this we don’t know, we do know that it is related to the chemical nepetalactone in catnip. It is a reflex response, and, though a small percentage of cats are totally unaffected by it, even tigers can be sensitive to it.

As an herbal treatment, catnip sooths the stomach and digestive system. This means it aids with flatulence, diarrhea, and colic. As an enema it can cleanse and heal the lower bowel. Taken as a hot infusion, Catnip promotes sweating and this helps with colds, flu, fevers, and infectious diseases. It is soothing to the nervous system and can help to prevent a miscarriage, premature birth and to decrease symptoms of morning sickness.

Catnip is beneficial for young children. It stimulates the body, settles the stomach, and soothes the nerves. The combination of catnip with fennel has long been used as a remedy for colic, gas, teething difficulties, and indigestion in children. It also helps clean out mucus in the body.

Combined with garlic’s infection fighting properties, the duo is a powerful enema. It has the ability to induce sleep while producing perspiration without increasing the heat of the system. This makes it a valuable drink when someone has a fever. Its sedative action on the nerves adds to its generally relaxing properties.

Essential oils are taken from the flowers and leaves. But the real benefit of catnip is in the leaf that may be purchased and used dried, cut, and powdered. The most common uses are as a tea, as an extract, or as a sprinkling on food. Of course, some use catnip to make an herbal pillow for their cats.

Catnip is a safe herb but must be stored properly. As is the case with most bulk herbs, Catnip should be stored in a dark, dry, and cool place. Refrigeration or freezing prolongs its value. The petalactone in catnip is UV photosensitive and, therefore, it is important that it be stored out of the sun. Some recommend caution for use by pregnant women but others say it is perfectly safe, even beneficial for expectant mothers.

Just remember to use caution when purchasing from a bulk herb store. You want to make sure the herbs you purchase will provide you their full benefits.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 28th at 4:40 am and is filed under Bulk Herbs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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