Catnip is one of my favorites, just cause it makes me laugh. Once I found an empty bag of celery seed that had a rip in it and decided that the seeds lining the bottom of our seed tote must in fact be celery. It was a dumb moment. I could have checked the celery seed in my seasoning cabinet to verify my thought, but I didn’t. Instead, I let my mid-February aching to plant lead me to start a whole flat full of celery plants. To my joy I had a million little sprouts, and was overjoyed when the soil warmed outside to plant two hundred celery plants in the far garden. I watched them grow and never once did I question those plants. One would have to wonder if I had ever bought celery from the store. My husband (of course) recognized the plants as being some sort of mint….catnip to be exact. So he let me go on carrying on about my wonderful celery crop. He let me wonder why it was branching from the stems and not from a central point at the bottom. Finally one day I told him I had ordered catnip seed from my favorite herb seed vender. He told me if he had known I was going to do that he would have told me I already had a field of the stuff.
So, my reasoning for ordering it was that with in the description in the seed catalogue it was mentioned that it would repel mosquitos. And well, it does. For that summer on our way to “our campground” at the bottom of the hill the garden sits atop, we would all grab us a big handful and start rubbing any little bit of exposed skin. No bites….and it was super handy to have along the way! Our little joke was that it worked great for the mosquitos but (holding our arms out as if they were too heavy to lift) these cats our sure annoying! On that note, an old adage is “If you set it, the cats will get it…If you sow it the cats won’t know it.” You could secretly move a plant if you were super careful, but if you bruise a leaf at all they’ll smell it!!
Repellent is a noteworthy use, for sure, but I love the calming effects of it, both on your emotions and your stomach. In a crazy coincidence, the same chemicals present that makes cats crazy intoxicated are sedative in humans. If you have ever had a kid with a belly ache then you know how beneficial it is to help them wind down while treating the nasty condition. My kids generally announce that their belly aches with tears. If your prone to digestive upset, a hot cup of catnip tea after dinner will be worthwhile.
Women can ease menstrual cramps with the tea, and current research suggests it should not stimulate the uterus. Pregnant women should exercise caution, but if I really couldn’t tolerate a rotten stomach during pregnancy I would make the weakest tea possible.
Catnip is also a wonderful antibiotic for cuts and scrapes( just bruise the leaves and apply on your way in to thoroughly clean and bandage), although not a particularly powerful antibiotic internally. Coupled with its soothing nature it would be a wonderful pick for treating diarrhea.
For healthy adults, to aid digestion, mildly tranquillize, or help with cramps, I would use two teaspoons of dried catnip per cup of boiling water. Pour the water, boiling, over the herb and cover the container for 10-20 minutes. Do not boil catnip. It will kill what’s medicinal.
I have also read of weak, cool tea being given to colicky infants.
Even if you just have it for your cats….laughing is medicinal, too, you know!