Catnip (Nepeta cataria) also called catmint, is a perennial herb of the mint family. Catnip acts in the same manner as peppermint, and is native to Europe and is imported into the United States. In North America it is a common widespread weed. It is known that the chemical nepetalactone in catnip produces a stereotypical pattern in cats, which they are sensitive to and causes them to roll around in it.
In humans catnip has been used for several ailments including the treatment of insomnia, fevers, colic, headache, toothache, diarrhea, and spasms. Catnip also has antibacterial properties to it too. In the 15th century the English cooks would season meats with catnip and also add a pinch to salads. Many people also prefer catnip tea to Chinese tea.
When taken orally, catnip shows a great benefit for anxiety, and nervousness. Nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip is commonly used as a herbal sedative. It is also great for easing migraine headaches, stomach complaints, and also reduces swelling associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids, and soft tissue injuries. Catnip can be purchased in a liquid, dried, or a capsule form. It is the dried form that is commonly brewed into a tea combining well with chamomile, spearment, and lemon balm for insomnia.
It was also said that when children throw tantrum or are hyperactive, catnip is able to calm them and also stop children from having nightmares. Catnip is sometimes called the ‘Nature’s Alka Seltzer’, since it stimulates digestion if taken after meals and stimulates appetite if taken before meals.
Some of the agents in catnip also act as a very effective cockroach repellent and mosquitoes hate it. It has actually been proven to be more effective by 100% than DEET.
Catnip is related to common kitchen herbs like thyme and sage, and can be easily cultivated as a houseplant. At the time of writing this article, there exist no well-known drug interactions with catnip.