Nor has it been for centuries. Known scientifically as Nepeta cataria, catnip or cat mint has been used for hundreds of years by humans because of its soothing properties. It has been used for pain relief, to bring down fevers and to help get a good night’s sleep for much of recorded history. It has also been known to have a slight numbing effect. The plant has been consumed as a tea, juice, tincture, and as an infusion, and has also been smoked.
The main ingredient that makes Kitty go bonkers is called Nepetalactone. Around 50% of cats are affected since the effect is gene-linked. The chemical acts as a vapor and is inhaled by the cat. The compound only mildly affects humans as a weak sedative, anti-spasmodic, and fever reducer with some antibacterial properties. Nepetalactone also has the ability to repel cockroaches and mosquitoes. It is possible to extract this chemical by steam distillation and apply it to your skin to repel mosquitoes at your next cookout. Some studies have shown that it has stronger repelling properties than DEET. The problem is you will keep the mosquitoes away but attract all the cats in the neighborhood.
Catnip not only affects domestic cats but also some of the big cats. The common action of cats once they sense the chemical is to rub the plant, roll on the ground, purr, paw at it, and lick it. This is followed by sleepiness, leaping about and purring. Some cats may growl, meow, and scratch. There is usually a limit to the affect on cats. It is believed that the enjoyment reaches a peak and the cat usually leaves the source of the catnip. A period of time surpasses before the cat will go back for another dose.
Human uses for catnip are many and is usually taken in the form of the tea. Here are some of the known uses;
- For headaches
- A mild sedative
- To relieve anxiety
- A sleep aid
- A fever reducer
- A digestion aid
- A stress reliever
- An appetite stimulant
- To treat colds and flu
- To relieve inflammation
- And as a general pain reliever
It can be given safely to children. In fact nothing reduces fever more quickly than a catnip tea enema! Yuck! Just the thought of that can make you cringe.
For minor stress and anxiety or as a night cap I recommend a tea made with 1 teaspoon of powdered catnip with 1 teaspoon of another Herb known as skullcap (Scutellia laterflolia). Add a pinch of sweetener such as Stevia herb. Or you can go solo with the catnip. Try it and you will like it. DO NOT COMSUME CATNIP SOLD AT A PET OR DEPARTMENT STORE. You only want the best for Kitty don’t you? Plus you want the top grade if you are going to give your significant other a catnip tea enema to reduce his or her fever!
The best catnip can be found at Herbal Fire Botanicals, Bouncing Bear Botanicals, or Botanical Spirit Shop. Just click on one of their icons in this website and Kitty will thank you.