Catnip. Not Just For Cats.
August 8th is International Cat Day, so let’s talk about Catnip (Catmint), Nepeta cataria, aka kitty crazy herb. While it does have lovely effects on humans, they are subtle and gentle and not at all like those enjoyed by the four footers. Catnip is also lovely in the garden, with its pretty dusty green leaves and profuse violet flowers much beloved of bees. Native to Eurasia, with a long history as a medicine in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, Catnip is in the mint family and has a rather nice smell too.
Great for Kids!
Medicinally speaking, it is especially useful for children and a little cup of catnip tea is wonderfully helpful when they are feeling ill with a fever or a cold. It induces a sweat which is useful in eliminating fevers and the myriad febrile illnesses that children catch. Being in the mint family, with abundant volatile oils, Catnip is also mildly anti-infective and decongestant, making it doubly useful for dealing with respiratory viruses. Additionally, the herb is gently pain-relieving and relaxing so, for achy, headachy, uncomfortable colds, coughs and fevers, you can’t really do better.
It even works well for teething fevers, when children (and parents) are cranky and miserable. At teething time, Catnip’s best friend is Chamomile and while it works especially well for children, adults can also enjoy Catnip’s benefits, so don’t stint on the mint when you've caught the plague from your little precious bundle.
Apart from fevers, Catnip’s diaphoretic effects - bringing on a mild sweat - are useful in hot weather when cool tea, sweetened with honey as desired, is traditional in the warmer parts of its natural geographic range. The volatile oils make the herb helpful for soothing overwrought windy digestion, in a similar way to its relative Mint, and the plant has a delightful relaxing quality. Catnip - or Catmint as it is also sometimes called - makes a great after dinner tea, or night time drink before bed, when it helps one to unwind before going to sleep. As a night time tea, it combines very well with Lavender, Chamomile, Rose, and Limeflower.
A word of warning...
Be careful to keep your Catnip tea stored well away from the cat, or it will be torn and tattered and spread all over the carpet. The cat will be deliriously happy – but you, not so much. If you need any proof, here's a photo taken just after Dee's cat, 'Mouse', discovered a brand new pot of Catmint in the garden!
Best just to give your feline friend one of these instead!