Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Parts used and where grown: The catnip plant grows in North America and Europe. The leaves and flowers are utilized as medicine.
In what conditions might catnip be supportive?
Historical or traditional use: Catnip is famous for inducing a delirious, stimulated state in felines. Throughout history, this herb has been used in humans to produce a sedative effect.1 Catnip tea was a regular beverage in England before the introduction of tea from China.2 Several other conditions (including cancer, toothache, corns, and hives) have been treated with catnip by traditional herbalists.
Active constituents: The essential oil in catnip contains a monoterpene similar to the valepotriates found in valerian, an even more widely renowned sedative.3 Animal studies (except those involving cats) have found it to increase sleep.4 The monoterpenes also help with coughs.
How much should I take? A catnip tea can be made by adding 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water to 1-2 U.S. teaspoons (5-10 grams) of the herb; cover, then steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink 2-3 cups per day. For children with coughs, 5 ml of tincture three times per day can be used.
Are there any side effects or interactions? Using reasonable doses, no side effects with catnip have been noted.
1. Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 120-1.
2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 325-6.
3. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 282.
4. Sherry CJ, Hunter PS. The effect of an ethanol extract of catnip (Nepeta cataria) on the behavior of the young chick. Experientia 1979;35:237-8.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.