Catnip

Scientific names: Nepeta cataria L. Family: Lamiaceae (mints)

Common names: Catnip also is known as catnep, catmint, catswort, and field balm.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is an aromatic perennial herb native to central Europe and now naturalized throughout the northeastern US and Canada. This plant grows to approximately 1 m and has dark green, oval-toothed leaves. The medicinal components of the plant are its dried leaves and white flowering tops.

Slideshow: Worried About Ebola? You’re More Likely to Get These 10 Serious Infections

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Catnip's leaves and shoots have been used as a flavoring in sauces, soups, and stews, and in several patented beverages, as well as in fruit table wines and liquors. The use of catnip leaves and flowers in herbal teas was documented at least as early as 1735 in the General Irish Herbal. Medicinally, the plant has been used to treat intestinal cramps, for indigestion, to cause sweating, to induce menstruation, as a sedative, and to increase appetite. Additionally, the plant has been used to treat diarrhea, colic, the common cold, and cancer. In Appalachia, nervous conditions, stomach ailments, hives, and the common cold have been treated with catnip tea. The dried leaves have been smoked to relieve respiratory ailments, and a poultice has been used externally to reduce swelling. In the early 1900s, the flowering tops and leaves were used to induce delayed menses. During the 1960s, catnip was reportedly smoked for its euphoric effects.

General uses

There is little clinical data to support any use of catnip in humans, except as an insect repellant.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no clinical evidence to guide dosage of catnip. Traditional doses for sedation require 4 g of dried herb, usually given as a tea. A 15% lotion of the essential oil has been used as an insect repellant.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

None well documented.

Pregnancy/nursing

Documented adverse effects when consumed (eg, induce menstruation and abortion). Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Headache and malaise have been reported.

Toxicities

Information is lacking.

References

  1. Catnip. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons Online. March 2010. Accessed April 20, 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

More about catnip

Professional resources

Hide
(web1)