Catnip is member of the mint (lamiaceae) family, more noted for its effect on felines than humans. Many are surprised to find that it has benefits for humans, beyond a wonderfully fragrant and sublimely flowered garden mint. The name Nepeta is believed to have come from the town of Nepete in Italy. Cataria is thought to have come from the Latin word for cat. It is native to Europe and Asia but was introduced to North America by the colonists.
The active ingredient, which causes unusual behavior in cats, is a volatile oil called nepetalactone, which can be found in the leaves & stem of the plant. It is also interesting to note that this essential oil was found in one study to be about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, which is the active ingredient in most insect repellents. It has a long tradition in England and France as a kitchen aid and medicinal herb. It was also used occasionally as a stimulating drink until the introduction of black tea. Several Native American tribes used it to support immune function and for relaxing muscle spasm and cramps associated with digestion. Catnip supports healthy digestive motility. The Mohegan tribes relieved infant colic with a tea made from the leaves.
Uses of Catnip
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.