Catnip / Cataire
Nepeta cataria / (Lamiaceae)/ Catnip is also known as catmint, catnep, catswort, cataria, chataire, field balm, herbe-aux-chats, menthe des chats.
Parts used: The top 25-30% of the aerial parts of the plant, harvested at the beginning to middle part of its flowering period.
Habitat: The perennial catnip is native to Europe and East and West Asia. This is a plant that does best when it follows humans – preferring disturbed sites along roadsides, old farmsteads. It has been naturalized to North America and other temperate regions of the planet but is not found in great quantities in the wild. A member of the mint family, catnip likes to have its feet wet and grows in a relatively moist area.
Properties: Antidiarrheal, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, relaxant, tranquilizer.
Uses: Catnip is a mild digestive herb with excellent antispasmodic properties. It is used for stress, tension, and anxiety and is well suited to digestive conditions where these play a contributory role. It can be used for gas, flatulence, dyspepsia, and IBS. Catnip is an excellent diaphoretic and when taken hot is great for feverish conditions such as cold and flus. For these conditions is combines well with boneset, yarrow, and elder flowers. Catnip is a cooling diaphoretic and increases peripheral circulation – it can be of use when a person is suffering from high blood pressure. Again, as in digestive conditions, it is particularly well suited to high blood pressure with a significant emotional component. Catnip can be used for spasmodic conditions and combines well with stronger antispasmodic herbs such as valerian, hops, and passionflower for this purpose. Catnip is the go to herb for children when they are wound up and overwrought. It has a gentle tonic action that helps to calm a child. It is quite well known that cats go crazy for catnip. This is because the essential oil has an aroma that is similar to that of the pheromones that cats secrete. It is said that the smell of catnip repels rats. Personally I find it more likely that it is the presence of the cats that are attracted to the catnip that is repelling the rats but… Catnip can also be used to make a natural insect repellent.
Preparation/Dosage: Fresh or dried herb infusion or tincture.
Safety Considerations: This plant should not be used during pregnancy as it contains pugelone – which is potentially teratogenic.