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Not only for the Cat: The Benefits and Uses of Catnip!

Most of us hear "catnip" and we think of the dried green leaves we scatter across the floor for our beloved feline friends to roll in, or the cute cat toy filled with it that are carried around the house. The herb that will fill our cats with excitement or calm them down depending on how it is ingested. If it is inhaled then they get "happy high" and if it is eaten then it usually calms the cat down and makes them "sleepy high". Did you know though that people can consume this plant too?


Catnip also known as Nepeta Cataria has been used by humans longer than it has been used by cats. This plant that can be grown easily inside or in the garden, but it can also be found in the wild almost anywhere. Loving sandy, chalky soil, catnip can be found along dry banks, railroad tracks, abandoned buildings, rivers, really anywhere you would find weeds growing. If you choose to wild harvest please know what you are looking at. You can just as easily order seeds or a plant off a website or support a local garden center.


Some of the things ingesting catnip can help with is relaxation because it helps relax the nervous system. It has been shown to help with insomnia and restlessness because it is a sedative. It has been said that it helps with stomach aches, relieves gas, reduces muscles spasms, aides in general aches and pains, and helps with cramps! It has been used to reduce fever by inducing sweating (needs to be taken hot). Catnip is also high in antioxidants which are great for the body and all that it battles every day.


Catnip can be brewed in a tea to be drunk or steeped in hot water and inhaled. No do not inhale the water, instead "brew" in large bowl and put face close to the water with a towel over your head and inhale the fumes. Catnip can also be smoked. It was funny when we were younger and joked about someone putting catnip in your smoke but to be honest it is a great way to make your smoke last a little longer and still experience the relaxing affect catnip offers. If only our younger selves knew!!!


Just like anything else there can be side effects so just be aware, even though these are usually uncommon be aware when using anything. Do not use if you are allergic to plants in the mint family, catnip is apart of the mint family. Some side effects to look out for is over all ill feeling, headache, or nausea. In some cases where a big dose of catnip was used there has been vomiting. Talk to you doctor if you are on any medication a short list can be found here Catnip Tea: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More (webmd.com). Do not give to children or use if pregnant or breast feeding.


So the next time you go to the garden center and you see some catnip not only can your cat enjoy it but you can too!


References


Kennedy, M., & McKnight, S. (2022, May 26). Here's how catnip works as a recreational drug for cats. Insider. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.insider.com/guides/pets/what-does-catnip-do-to-cats


Juber, M. (Ed.). (2007, December 7). Catnip tea: Health benefits, nutrients per serving, preparation information, and more. WebMD. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/catnip-tea-health-benefits#:~:text=Catnip%20tea%20was%20traditionally%20used,supplement%2C%20and%20brewed%20in%20tea.


Foster, S., & Duke, J. A. (2014). Peterson Field Guide to medicinal plants and herbs: Of Eastern and central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Fetrow, C. W., & Avila, J. R. (2000). The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines. Pocket Books.






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