catnip in wicker bowl

Years ago, I stayed with some friends who had a half wine barrel planted in catnip and watched their cat roll around in it having the time of its life. When we got our cat Casper I planted some catnip in a tub for for him hoping to see him frolicking playfully, but alas he falls into the category of cats that are unaffected by the nepetalactone produced by this plant.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a herb from the mint family that is well-known for its effects on cats – around 50-75% of cats exhibit a reaction to it. While catnip primarily affects felines, it can also offer a few benefits to humans. We can use it to help with digestive problems, stress relief, headaches, mild inflammatory issues and also as an insect repellent.

Catnip growing in garden

Here are some potential benefits of catnip for humans …

Relaxation and Stress Relief: Catnip has a calming effect on cats, and some individuals find that it can have a similar soothing effect. It may help in reducing anxiety, stress, and promoting relaxation when consumed in tea form or used in aromatherapy.

Digestive Aid: Catnip has traditionally been used as a digestive aid due to its carminative properties. It can help soothe the stomach, relieve indigestion, reduce flatulence, and alleviate stomach cramps. Drinking catnip tea after a meal might promote healthy digestion.

Sleep Aid: Catnip has mild sedative effects and can potentially aid in promoting better sleep. Consuming catnip tea before bedtime might help individuals with insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.

Headache Relief: Catnip has been used to alleviate headaches and migraines in traditional medicine. Applying a catnip poultice or compress to the forehead may provide relief from headaches.

Anti-inflammatory and Pain Relief: Catnip contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties. Applying catnip topically as a salve or poultice might help reduce localised pain, such as joint pain or muscle soreness.

Insect Repellent: The essential oil in catnip, nepetalactone, has been found to be a natural insect repellent. It can help deter mosquitoes, flies, and other pests. You can use it as an oil or crush up catnip leaves as a natural bug repellent.

You can purchase dried catnip from Olives Kitchen for $14.99 or purchase catnip essential oil on Trade Me for $14.00 

It’s important to note that the effects of catnip on humans can vary, and individual responses may differ. Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid consuming catnip as it may stimulate the uterus. As with any herbal remedy, it’s advisable to consult with a naturopath, medical herbalist or your healthcare professional before using catnip for any medicinal purposes.