What is Catnip?
Catnip is an aromatic perennial herb native to central Europe and now naturalized throughout the northeastern US and Canada. This plant grows to approximately 1 m and has dark green, oval-toothed leaves. The medicinal components of the plant are its dried leaves and white flowering tops.
Catnip’s leaves and shoots have been used as a flavoring in sauces, soups, and stews, and in several patented beverages, as well as in fruit table wines and liquors. The use of catnip leaves and flowers in herbal teas was documented at least as early as 1735 in the General Irish Herbal. Medicinally, the plant has been used to treat intestinal cramps, for indigestion, to cause sweating, to induce menstruation, as a sedative, and to increase appetite. Additionally, the plant has been used to treat diarrhea, colic, the common cold, and cancer. In Appalachia, nervous conditions, stomach ailments, hives, and the common cold have been treated with catnip tea. The dried leaves have been smoked to relieve respiratory ailments, and a poultice has been used externally to reduce swelling. In the early 1900s, the flowering tops and leaves were used to induce delayed menses. During the 1960s, catnip was reportedly smoked for its euphoric effects.
Uses: Soothes an upset stomach; reduced anxiety and tension
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 4 or 5 fresh or 1 tsp dried leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink 1 or 2 times per day.
Catnip tea has a woodsy, almost grassy taste. The longer it sits with lemon in it, the more you’ll taste the natural underlying minty, citrusy flavor. Some people prefer this to drinking the tea immediately after cooling.