A member of the mint family, catnip (genus/species: nepeta cataria) is an herb that’s been used for over 2000 years as a medicine.
Catnip tea was a popular beverage before the Chinese tea trade began and today this strong-smelling herb is a global export due to its amazing health benefits and minty flavor.
Catnip Tea Benefits
With a long history of use as a medicine, catnip tea addresses many ailments and the herb has also been used as a poultice, tincture and even smoked. The best way to ingest the catnip benefits is as a tea, which includes vitamins such as A, B and C, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Catnip Benefits when used Internally
- Mild Sedative – from a substance called nepetalactone in the herb, for when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, unable to sleep or suffering frequent headaches. Its calming actions sooth the nerves and relieves an overactive mind.
- Emmenagogue – soothes menstrual cramps and helps to ease PMS. Catnip tea can also increase the menstrual flow by stimulating the uterus, which is helpful if you need to regulate an erratic menstrual cycle.
- Detoxing – eliminates toxins and supports the immune system with anti-fungal and antibiotic properties, as well as easing bladder inflammation, cystitis, asthma, allergies and other symptoms of infections and viruses.
- Stomachic – helping with various digestive disorders, it acts as a natural anti-acid and soothes indigestion. Catnip also helps with stomach cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, colic and it can stimulate the appetite.
- Decongestant – along with alleviating infections, this tea can loosen phlegm, sooth respiratory issues and reduce a fever. It also helps with sinusitis, reducing coughs and soothing sore throats.
- Diuretic – regular consumption of this tea helps with water retention and bloating
External uses for More Catnip Tea Benefits
- As a wash to disinfect skin when the tea is cooled, which also helps to heal rashes, burns and insect bites
- Relieves toothache when applied to the site
- A strong infusion helps with allergies and inflammations when used as an eyewash
- As a rinse for an irritated scalp and a natural remedy for dandruff
If you’re wondering “what does catnip do to humans?” in terms of adverse reactions, there are no serious side effects – although you might want to check with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement. This goes double if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
If you have issues with your menstrual cycle or have any related disorders, you might want to avoid catnip, due to its ability to bring on contractions in the uterus as well as stimulating menstruation. Seeing as this tea is a diuretic, you might want to avoid drinking it at night.
Being a mild sedative, this tea can make you drowsy, so try not to drive or operate machinery after drinking it. Some people report having mild headaches after drinking it, so test yourself when you’re not planning to leave the house, just in case.
Can People Eat Catnip?
Along with brewing catnip to make tea, this herb can be used in many culinary dishes, including stews, soups, sauces and salads. Its minty flavor does well in recipes where mint is called for, like curries and tabbouleh.
Not only can people eat catnip – its name denotes the reason why it’s called catnip in the first place. Cats adore this herb – even big cats – and they adore pawing the ground, rolling around in it and nibbling on the leaves.
When you’re considering the question what does catnip do to humans – you might as well be asking what it does to cats, as the soothing effects are much the same, although you might not be likely to roll around on the floor after drinking it!
How to Make Catnip Tea
Whether using disposable teabags, a tea pot and strainer or a French Press, use 1-2 teaspoons of dried catnip flowers and leaves per cup, then pour hot (not boiling) water over it and let it steep for approximately 10 minutes (depending on how strong you like it.)
Strain and add a sweetener of your choice, like honey, stevia or sugar. Lemon is a nice addition, as this tea can be slightly bitter.
The methods of how to make catnip tea can vary, especially if you’re using the fresh herb. In that case, double the amount of the herb and make sure the leaves are bruised or cut to release the flavors and properties.
You can also make iced tea, but remember that the flavor and properties will be diluted with the addition of ice. This tea also has grassy and citrus notes, but you can adjust the strength by reducing the amount or adding more.
Along with the benefits of treating anxiety and indigestion, catnip tea is a delightful way to calm down fussy children, when diluted and made into popsicles, sweetened with honey.
Good health and great taste makes this tea a mainstay in a herbal repertoire, so why not give it a try?