Humans and Catnip 5 things to know

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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!

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Number OneCalming

  • 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 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.  Small children should only drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup while children over 12 and adults can 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
  • Can be caused by gas and catnip is a carminative and anti-spasmodic which will help relieve gas
  • 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


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Number Three – Fever

  • Has mild antibiotic properties and can be effective at the beginning of fevers
  • Can be used to clean cuts and scrapes and reduce chance of infection
  • Catnip encourages perspiration and assists in sweating out the fever

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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
  • 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, catnip has a somewhat erratic effect.

For the other 99% of the population catnip is like finding hidden treasure. Use it in the bath to help calm the nerves. Steep it 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.



Bartram Thomas, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company New York

Castleman Michael, The Healing Herbs, Rodale Press Emmaus Pennsylvania

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