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(Catmint or Nepeta cataria)

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Evidence of Benefits

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Mosquito and Fly Repellent

Lab studies show that the essential oil of this herb was effective at repelling mosquito and a variety of flies. It is practically non-irritating to the eyes and is considered safer to use than DEET (the "standard" chemical found in most mosquito repellants).

However, there is one study done in Australia that showed it did not provide the same level of protection as DEET.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Induce Euphoria (a high)

An euphoric state is created in cats when they smell this herb. This effect is well documented. Click here to jump to the section describing this effect. One expert describe it as having a pseudo-narcotic effect.

Anecdotal reports suggest that it may cause a high in humans if this herb is smoked. Indeed, this herb is smoked for its suspected ability to induce a euphoric state (a "high").
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Stress and Anxiety

Catnip contains the chemical nepetalactone, a substance shown to have a calming and sedative effect in animal studies.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Antioxidant Properties
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Yeast Infections (Candida albicans) & Antibacterial Benefits

Lab studies show that the essential oils of this herb killed yeast cells. Other lab studies show that it also is able to stop the growth of bacteria.

Helpful Headaches from Migraine, Tension or Stress

This herb is suggested for relief from headaches resulting from migraine, tension or stress. Its calming effect can be used to cause relaxation throughout the entire body.
Helpful Muscle Cramps / Sore Muscle / Menstrual Cramps

This herb seems to have muscle relaxant properties and may be helpful in muscle spasm or cramps and cramps in the uterus during the menstrual cycle.
Helpful Wound Healing / Cuts and Scrapes

Since this herb possesses astringent properties, it may help to heal and to stop bleeding when applied onto the wounds.
Helpful Stomach Complaints

The carminative properties of this herb can help calm an upset stomach and treat colic, nausea and diarrhea.
Helpful Fever (from the Common cold and Flu)

Since this herb is classified as an diaphoretic (promotes sweating), it can be helpful in bring fever down in people suffering from the flu or the common cold.

Helpful Coughing & Asthma Symptoms

The anti-spasm benefits of this herb is traditionally use to treat coughing and asthma symptoms.
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Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses

  • Antioxidant effects
  • Alzheimer's disease (AD)
  • Anti-bacterial effects
  • Anti-cancer benefits
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Colic
  • Common cold
  • Congestion in the lung
  • Coughing
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Mosquito and fly repellant
  • Migraine headaches
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Sedation (as a relaxant)
  • Sore muscles
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tension headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Water retention (as a diuretic)
  • Yeast infection (against the yeast Candida albicans)
Inhaled (Smoked)
  • Euphoria (inducing a high)
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Facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is catnip?

Catnip, a benign plant with medicinal properties, is traditionally used to treat varies types of health conditions. It is used in cats and humans smoke it as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects.

The essential oils of this herb contain chemicals that possess a calming and relaxing effect in animals studies. Nepetalactone, an active chemical isolated from this herb is tested in lab and animal studies. This chemical is similar to chemicals found in valerian, another herb also used for its calming effect.

What about cat and catnip? What's the effect on cats?

There is good documented evidence that when cats smell this herb, they respond by licking, sniffing and chewing while moving their heads, rubbing their face and engaging in rolling and the rubbing of their body. This is the famous effect of catnip on cats. The chemical suspected to induce this state is nepetalactone.

This last about 15 minutes after which it takes a period of at least 1 hour before this effect can be repeat again. This effect doesn't happen when this herb is given to cats by mouth.

What about smoking catnip? Can you really get a high off of this herb?

There are reports that smoking catnip can produce an euphoric state (a high). Studies done in rats show that rats given catnip in their diet caused an effect similar to taking amphetamines (as a recreational drug).

Damiana is also another herb that is smoked by some people to get a "high".

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Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

What are some side effects of taking catnip?

this herb shows sedative effect and may cause drowsiness or mild fatigue. Because it has diuretic properties, it may cause an increase in urination.

Some people report getting an upset stomach. Using catnip in large amounts may cause headache and moderate fatigue and drowsiness.

Are there any dangers of taking catnip? What happens if you eat too much?

There are no known dangers or toxicity from using catnip as it is a benign herb.

However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with healthcare professionals first before using this herb.

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Dosage & How to Take It

How to prepare and use catnip

Infusion - Place 10 teaspoon into 1 liter of boiling water for 10 minutes. Place a cover over the pot to avoid evaporation of the essential oils. The prepared solution can be stored in a fridge. Strain and drink 250 mL (1 cup) two to three times daily.

Compress - Apply grounded herbs wrapped in a warm compress and apply directly over the irritated skin.

Tea Bags - You can buy tea bags containing this herb commercially.

Tincture or Extracts - Apply to the skin to treat irritation as needed.

Essential oils - Studies used a 10% concentration of the essential oil applied to the skin as a mosquito repellant.

Return to Natural Remedies List
Updated: July 12, 2012

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