Catnip or Nepata Cataria is one of the most misunderstood herbs in the cabinet. In general most people think that it is strictly for cats and has no value to humans. Herbalists throughout history have used it as a specific for small children. It calms, it soothes and it’s great for colic!
Number One – Calming
-Only 1% of the population respond to catnip the same as a cat does
-People and children in particular respond to catnip as a mild sedative
-Cranky out of sorts children and particularly those that are inconsolable will calm quickly given catnip tea.
-Catnip is a mint and has a lemony mint flavor children love
-The chemicals nepetalactone are similar to the valepotriates in Valerian which are natural sedatives.
To make tea steep a teaspoon of the dried herb in boiling water and add honey. For small children 1/4 to 1/2 cup is plenty. Children over 12 and adults should drink 1 cup.
*****Note that human grade catnip is required for the tea rather than animal grade found in pet stores*****
Number Two – Colic
-Colic is not a disease and can be caused by many different things
-Colic can be caused by gas and catnip is a carminative and anti-spasmodic which will help relieve gas
-Colic can be caused by fear, excitement and overstimulation. Catnip’s sedative effects will help with this
-Overfeeding does not relieve colic but worsens it. 1/4 to 1/2 cup of catnip can calm the child down
Number Three – Fever
-Catnip has mild antibiotic properties and can be effective at the beginning of fevers
-Catnip can be used to clean cuts and scrapes and reduce chance of infection
-Catnip encourages perspiration and assists in sweating out the fever
Number Four – Digestive Aid
-Catnip is a carminative and can reduce gas
-It’s anti-spasmodic properties aid in soothing the muscles in the digestive tract helping reduce indigestion
-It soothes stomach acid
-Catnip’s sedative effects calm the nerves and anxiety that can lead to heartburn
Number Five – Women’s Health
-Catnip has been used for centuries to increase menstrual flow
-Women would burn catnip and inhale the fumes to end barrenness
-Catnip’s anti-spasmodic properties sooth the smooth muscles and ease menstrual cramps
-The sedative effects of catnip will assist with premenstrual and peri-menopausal mood swings
****Note that catnip should NOT be used when pregnant ****
For the 1% of the population that react to catnip in the same manner as cats it is not recommended to use catnip as a stimulant as it has a somewhat erratic effect.
For the other 99% of the population catnip is like finding hidden treasure. It can be used in the bath to help calm the nerves, steeped in tea to allow a restful sleep. It assists in relieving anxiety and helps prevent infection. Perhaps most importantly for the parents of colicky children it can help to make life a little easier. When the crying just won’t stop try catnip tea. A small amount goes a long way. LIVESTRONG.COM has a preparation for infant catnip tea which they suggest be given in 6 teaspoon amounts.
THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR
Bartram Thomas, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company New York
Castleman Michael, The Healing Herbs, Rodale Press Emmaus Pennsylvania