Catnip may be popular for its effects on its animal namesake, but it has also proven beneficial for humans for many years.
Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb that’s part of the mint family. It’s also known as catmint, catswort, or catnep because of its euphoric or sedative effects on cats. When sniffed, catnip can make cats feel stimulated and excited; when ingested, it can have the opposite effect and make cats feel sedated and relaxed. 1
Catnip also affects humans, but the results depend on which part of the plant is used and how it’s ingested. Studies in the 1950s-60s claim that chewing on catnip root “will make the most quiet person fierce and quarrelsome.” 1 Catnip leaf, on the other hand, was being used as a key ingredient in sedative and calming concoctions as early as the 1600s. The leaves and stem of a catnip plant have sedative properties because they contain a compound called nepetalactone, which is similar to the compounds found in valerian – a plant more commonly used in treating insomnia and anxiety.
The first formal documentation of the use of catnip leaf in herbal teas appeared in the General Irish Herbal, published in 1735. In tea and infusion form, catnip leaf has been used to treat nervous problems, including headaches, hysteria, and insanity. Infusions and tonics were also used to treat ailments such as asthma, yellow fever, measles, smallpox, and jaundice. Tea made from catnip leaf was also used to induce menstruation and aid in childbirth. Catnip poultices were also
known to reduce swelling, and were often used to treat toothaches. Some even smoked catnip to help soothe coughing and other respiratory ailments.1,
To this day, catnip is still one of the herbs doctors often recommend for those suffering from insomnia and nervous exhaustion. 4 Other calming herbs used for this purpose include chamomile, passionflower, and American scullcap3 – all common ingredients in many calming herbal infusions and remedies.
If you’d like to experience the relaxing effects of catnip leaf yourself, try the Sekaya Cozy Calm Botanic Infusion – an infusion that helps you unwind after a stressful day. This soothing infusion is made with a base of decaffeinated Indian green tea blended with chamomile flower, peppermint leaf, scullcap leaf, wood betony, catnip leaf, and stevia leaf.
For more information about Sekaya and their line of organic botanic infusions that promote overall wellness, visit: www.sekaya.com.ph/products.