Catnip. Cats. Cats on high. General thought pattern when thinking of Catnip (Nepeta cataria) eh, but oh there is so much more to Catnip than another cats fun…
Now is probably a really good time to know about Catnip. Especially if you have children that are nervous about these earthquakes, as any cat worth its whiskers will tell you catnip has a sedative action on the nerves giving it relaxant properties. Catnip was actually the tea of choice in Britain before the tea from China came along…
Catnips’ most common and valuable use though is for fevers. Catnips’ brilliance lies in its ability to induce sleep and produce perspiration without increasing the heat of the bodies system. If the fever is part and parcel with a cold blend it with Elder and Yarrow, it makes for a pleasant tea that children might even drink (can sweeten with honey if desired).
Catnip can also ease sore tummy’s, diarrhea, nervous headaches and colic.
So how to, how to…. The leaves and flowering tops are the parts used. It is best prepared as an infusion which is near enough like a tea. Two teaspoons of the dried herb (or 4 teaspoons of fresh) with one cup of boiling water poured over, cover and leave for 10-15 minutes. Dosage wise children may have 2-3 teaspoons frequently, adults in doses of 2 tablespoons. A tincture of the herb can be made but I must admit it’s not incredibly palatable (personal opinion). Mrs M. Grieve tells me that “The young tops made into a conserve, have been found serviceable for nightmare” Catnip jam on toast before bed? And if you’re feeling particularly wealthy but poorly with scarlet-fever, small pox or colds and hysterics a tea made with equal parts Catnip and Saffron is said to be excellent. You’d better bloody hope so with the price of saffron!
Growing wise Catnip is not fussy with soil but likes to moderately moist if it’s hot. Can be grown in full sun or partial shade, take note though that it can get quite tall and bushy so plant it where it’s got room to groove and won’t overshadow anything more dainty. Catnip is considered a perennial, some say a short lived perennial with a life of 4-5 years. If cats are a problem throw a dishrack over the top of it until it’s big enough to withstand the feline loving.
In our last place I never saw the culprit but I knew it was a white cat from the ring of white fur around my squashed catnip! Always sprung back up though.
Now, Catnip is different from Catmint (Nepeta musinii), where Catnip is tall Catmint is low growing with a trailing habit. Catnip is the preferred plant for medicinal use.
I best state here that I am not a qualified herbalist and all information here is not professional medical advice and for anything acute and or serious please go see your local qualified herbalist or doctor! But I do grow and sell the plant!