Catnip is well known as the plant that cats love. It’s a fairly adaptable and drought resistant plant that grows best in full sunlight. It’s commonly used as an ornamental in gardens, attracting an abundance of butterflies and kitties. On a bright summer’s day, it’s not too difficult to find a happy feline lounging next to a patch of this wonderful herb.
Catnip is not just for cats though. It makes a nice tasty bedtime tea, and also has a number of healing properties. Catnip has a long history of use in Europe and North America. First written about in the 11th century European herbal De viribus herbarum, Catnip was considered a remedy for insomnia, nervousness, pain, headaches and restlessness. It was given to children to support good digestion and soothe the stomach. Women used it to help regulate their menstrual cycles. It was also used topically to reduce swelling. Seventeenth century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper prepared a juice from Catnip plants that was used topically. In addition, he added the juice to wine to be taken internally, for bruises. Early 20th century herbalist Maude Grieve reported using the root, but cautioned that it was very stimulating, sometimes to the point of provoking aggression in patients.
The herb also made its way into the herbal systems of many North American indigenous tribes. The Hoh, Delaware and Iroquois all have considered Catnip an excellent children’s remedy due to its overall mildness. Numerous tribes used it for digestive complaints and to promote healthy digestion. The Cherokee also considered it an overall strengthening tonic.
Clearly, cats know a good thing when they see it. I hope you grow to enjoy Catnip as much as your kitties do!
Photo from Morguefile – some rights reserved