The ultimate feline herb, for centuries cats have been going crazy over this plant. It makes them happy and spunky, yet has a more sedating effect on people. Catnip has been used in European folk medicine for generations as a calming agent for body and mind. It is gentle and is very useful for children and infants with digestive or emotional disturbances. The essential oil has been used as a fragrance in perfumes, as a culinary flavoring, and more recently, as an insect repellant.
Calmative,2 diaphoretic, relaxant, carminative, astringent, digestive stimulant, insect repellant (volatile oil), emmenagogue, tonic4
Volatile oils containing nepetalactone, tannins, bitter principle
Research suggests catnip is effective as mosquito repellent. Its volatile oils have shown repellant effect in 13 insect families.5-7
One version of an old adage regarding the relationship between cats and catnip is this: 'If you set it, the cats will eat it, If you sow it, the cats don't know it.' This folk myth suggests that when plants are grown from seed, or 'sown' cats don't bother the plant, but when they are transplanted, cats will destroy it.4 The feline's attraction to this plant is curious indeed, and in fact, referred to as the "the catnip response."1 It is not just observed in domesticated housecats, but also in jaguars, tigers, leopards, lions, and several other large cats. It elicits behaviors such as chewing and head shaking, rolling around on the floor, and even arouses sexual desire;1 this response lasts from 15 minutes to 1hour. They are responding to the scent of nepetalactone in catnip, the aromatherapeutic element being more powerful than taking it internally.1,3
Specific: No known precautions.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
- Leung AY, Foster S, eds. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc; 1996.
- Weiss, G., & Weiss, S. (1985). Growing & using the healing herbs. Rodale Press.
- Foster, S. (1993). Herbal renaissance. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith 234p. ISBN, 879055235.
- Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol. 2. New York: Dover Books; 1971. Accessed at http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/oats–03.html on June 19, 2014.
- Peterson C, Rowley W, Coats J. Catnip Essential Oil as a Mosquito Repellent. American Chemical Society’s 222nd National Meeting, 2001 Aug 26-30; Chicago.
- Peterson C, Coats J. Insect Repellents – Past, Present and Future. Pesticide Outlook 2001;12(4):154-158.
- Peterson, C. J., & Ems-Wilson, J. (2003). Catnip essential oil as a barrier to subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in the laboratory. Journal of economic entomology, 96(4), 1275-1282.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.