Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Other common names: Catmint, field balm, cat’s wort, catnep

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Family: Lamiaceae


Carminitive, sedative, stomachic, analgesic, febrifuge, central nervous system depressant, antispasmodic, refrigerant, insect repellent, antioxidant, tonic, appetite stimulant, antitussive, antimicrobial

Harvest: While you can take it any time during spring and summer, it’s ideal to harvest catnip just before its flowers open (usually in early summer).

Part used: Aerial parts – fresh or dried


Vitamins C and E, volatile oils (carvacrol, thymol, nepetol, nepetalactone, citronellol, geraniol), rosmarinic acid, tannins, and others.


Fevers, headaches, burns, nausea/vomiting, motion sickness, insomnia, anxiety, migraines, swelling, skin irritations, respiratory infections, hives, gas, diarrhea, indigestion, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, coughs, promoting menstrual flow and inducing sweating.

Medicinal preparations:

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Catnip can be used in tinctures, teas, syrups, lozenges, capsules and other internal preparations. It is useful in douches and enemas to bring down fevers. Its gentle nature makes it helpful for children’s remedies (consult with a qualified practitioner before doing so).


Catnip tea can be made into a wash, and the tea or tincture can be used in poultices, creams and salves. It is frequently added (especially in its essential oil form) to insect repellents.


Do not use while pregnant or nursing, or if you suffer from inflammatory pelvic disease or heavy menstruation. Stop taking for two weeks before a scheduled surgery, as it can add to the sedation of the anesthetic. Consult with a doctor before using if you are taking any medications, particularly sedatives, or before administering to a child under 6 years old. Do not take with lithium, or diuretics. Some suggest it can be unsafe when smoked. Very large doses may cause vomiting.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

While catnip attracts cats, its scent is said to repel rats just as avidly. For this reason it was planted around crops to keep rodents out. It is sometimes added to dream pillows, with the belief that it will induce good dreams, and a sound sleep. It is a protective herb, and faeries are fond of it. Due to its ability to calm agitated children, it became renowned as a way of preventing childhood tantrums and nightmares, and keeping evil energy or beings away.

Its constitution is cool and moist.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.


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