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Heal your mind and gut with catnip

Monday, December 06, 2010 by: Lindsay Chimileski
Tags: catnip, volatile oils, health news

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(NaturalNews) Catnip is famous for driving our feline friends wild but it has many benefits for us humans as well. Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is part of the Laminaceae mint family. Many of the mint family herbs, including Catnip, contain volatile oils. These volatile oils, such as carvacrol and thymol, make the Mint family powerful antibacterials and antiseptics. Catnip is fondly deemed "Baby mint" because it has these effects but it's still very gentle. Catnip is also used as a cold and flu remedy because it is a diaphoretic. Beyond these traditional uses, it can be extremely beneficial to the human mind and gastrointestinal tract as well.

Catnip has nervine and calming properties. Nepetalactone is the constituent responsible for this effect. Although known for its psychoactive effect on cats, there is controversy over its hallucinogenic properties on humans as well. In cats, the Nepetalacatone triggers a stimulating response, likely related to pheromones. In humans however, Nepetalactone has a sedative effect. It is similar to the sedative components of Valerian. It can help ease tension and anxiety. Too many Americans are overworked and overstressed. It is essential to return the mind to a calm and steady state if we want to return the body to one. Because of this calming effect, it can be exceptionally favorable in treating insomnia as well. A mixture of half catnip and half chamomile tea before bed is both beneficial and delicious!

Catnip is also a valuable carminative, aiding in digestion and GI disorders in many ways. It soothes the gut wall, helps ease maldigestion, relieves flatulence and colic, and can be a great remedy for diarrhea in children. Nepeta cataria also has tannins, which are responsible for its astringent qualities. The tannins can help speed up repair of the intestinal mucosa as well. It has anticatarrhal properties as well, so it can help treat disorders related to excess mucus in the GI tract. Catnip is also a moderate antispasmodic, relieving muscle tensions and aiding in the treatment of abdominal pain.

Catnip has many desirable effects but it is still gentle. It is not too warming or cooling so it can be beneficial to all constitutions. This enables it to be a potential treatment for both children and the chronically sick who could not withstand harsher options. Catnip can also be used to treat morning sickness. It has a subtle taste and is a nice alternative when other pungent flavored herbs are not desired.

Always consult a doctor before initiating or changing any treatment plan.


Noe, J. (2010). Botanical Medicine I. Digestive Herbs Lecture. University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. Burlington, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Lewis, W., Elvin-Lewis. (1977) Medical Botany: Plants affecting man's health. New York; John Wiley & Sons Inc.


Ritchson, J. (1995) The Little Herb Encyclopedia. Pleasant Grove, Utah: Woodland Health

About the author

Lindsay Chimileski: I am a graduate medical student currently pursuing dual degrees in Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture, expecting to graduate in 2013. I have a passion for health education, patient empowerment and the restoration of balance, both on the individual and communal level. I believe all can learn how to live happily, in harmony with nature and in ways that support the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Please note: I am not a doctor and not giving any medical advice, just spreading the word of natural living, and the pressing health revolution.

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