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.


Cool and dry.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.