Nepeta cataria

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Nepeta cataria

Common Names:

Catnip, Catmint,

Habitat and Growing Conditions:

Native to Europe, Africa and Asia, catmint is a perennial plant that grows to about 30cm high with square stems that immerge from a central root system. Its leaves are a grey-green, deeply veined and covered in a soft down.  The flowers are a purplish-blue and both the leaves and flowering tops are used as medicine. I have planted mine in semi shade but it does well in full sun and has a pleasant and not overpowering mint aroma that is similar to pennyroyal.  It can be grown from seed or cutting.

Energetics:

Cool and dry.

Actions:

Anti-spasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, nervine, refrigerant, sedative, slightly emmenagogue and tonic.

 Indications:

It is great for children when treating coughs, colds, fever or colic and due to its astringent properties, it can be used to treat diarrhea. Catnip is a relaxant that has both stimulating and cooling properties.  It helps reduce fever by opening the pores of the skin to promote perspiration.  It is also used as a mild sedative, at bedtime for overactive children.  In adults, Catnip is great for headaches, menstrual headaches, insomnia, muscle spasm, nervous dyspepsia, and emotional tension. I have combined catnip with Elder, Echinacea, and yarrow to treat a cold. You can also add it to cream and use topically for hemorrhoids.

 Constituents:

Catnip contains essential oils rich in Camphor, caryophyllene, citral, citronellol, epinepetalacone, geraniol, linonen, nepatalactone, nepatalic acid and thymol, and bitters and tannins.

Contraindications:

Catnip should not be used for prolonged periods of time with children as it has a narcotic effect.

Dosage:

2-4 grams of dried herb per day. If taking it twice a day put 2g of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water, cover and steep for 15 minutes and then drink. You may need to sweeten it with honey.

1:3 liquid extract 25-50mls per week

These are adult dosages and need to be adjusted for children.

Personal Experience:

I went outside and picked some of the flowering tops and leaves, about 2 tablespoons, and placed in a plunger with 2 cups of boiling water.  I then allowed the herb to steep for 15 minutes. I then poured out 1 cupful of the tea and sipped on this over the course of an hour. It was a mild mint flavor that was refreshing and although it did not make me go to sleep I was extremely relaxed.

References:

Phytotherapy Desk Reference by M. Thomsen and H. Gennat p: 69-70

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve p: 174

How I use Herbs in my Daily Life by I. Shipard p: 66

The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood p: 354.

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