A soothing remedy for all ages, catnip’s reputation precedes itself as a plant with many friends. Long used in Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America and Canada, catnip is a hardy perennial that grows well on waste ground, roadsides, and dry banks. For potency, catnip is gathered before flowering and prepared fresh as a tea, tincture, or poultice, all of which capture its essential oil content when it’s most available.
Catnip is relaxing for the smooth muscle, making it excellent digestive and menstrual discomforts and colic. It’s gentle nature has made it a trusted remedy for infants and children since ancient times. Like all plants, catnip has a vital intelligence that works in the body on more than one level at a time, and catnip imparts a calming effect to ease the body when dealing with distress or discomfort. These unique qualities make catnip a specific remedy for those who internalize tension or hold worry and anxiety in the guts or stomach. Another beneficial support that catnip can offer is for morning or motion sickness associated with nerves.
A survey of the literature indicates that catnip has been used at one time or another for ailments of every kind. The tea is a cooling diaphoretic, releasing heat and tension from the skin and pores, so it can be used as support for fevers, to dispel excess heat, soothe hives, and to cool a person down on a hot summer day.
Gardener’s Note ~ Catnip is an easy-to-grow perennial that is not fussy about conditions, and is easy to sow from seed or divide in autumn or spring. However, to produce a therapeutic and aromatic plant, catnip prefers dry, neutral, or acidic soil in sunny places.
Elizabeth Willis, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Medical Herbalist