Nepeta cataria, also known as catmint or catnip, is commonly used in herbal tea blends related to sleep, stress reduction, and relaxation. Catnip tea has a nice minty flavour due to it's active compound pulegone. In folk medicine it was a commonly used drug against abdominal circulation, colds, painful menstruation, nervousness and insomnia. Cats love it; in nature they always return to the same plant, and they become visibly relaxed.
Catnip is a plant from the Labiatae family, of which mint and deaf nettle are also a part. It grows throughout Europe, parts of Asia and North America.
The special scent that is released when the plant is bruised, has an enormous attraction for some cats. It contains many essential oils, including nepatalactone. This substance is mildly psychoactive and could also be the cause of typical catnip symptoms: cats can get excited by it, they roll themselves into the herb, lick it and look pretty high for a few minutes.
Catnip has a place in traditional medicine as a remedy for various diseases, including digestive problems. Catnip is also used to reduce cramps, as a diuretic and invigorating agent and as a general tonic. Furthermore, it was widely used in the flu, because it promotes good sleep and can open the respiratory tract. Catnip can help to relax the muscles and can thus be taken as a sedative.
Catnip can have a mild psychoactive effect, especially in combination with tobacco. Beware of excessive use, there may be adverse symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
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