Catnip Tea

Facts about Catnip Tea

The same herb that produces stimulating excitability and bliss in cats can do the exact opposite in their human counterparts; a nice cup of catnip tea in the evening can bring about a calm and relaxing sensation that can induce sleep.

About catnip

Nepeta cataria, better known as catnip or catmint, is an herb that is included in the family of mint.  As such, it is hardy perennial plant that is easily cultivated in most any type of garden soil, where it grows abundantly with little care.  Planting is done by seed, which are extremely fine, by sowing them thinly in rows.  While seedlings are generally slow to appear, the plant will flourish in part sun or sunny conditions; growing to reach between 2 and 3 feet tall.  The leaves are medium gray-green; fuzzy in texture and toothy in appearance.  Flowers appear at the top stems of the plant beginning in June and will continue to bloom until early fall. 

Benefits of the herb

For centuries, the catnip plant has been used by herbalists as a relaxant in people due to a chemical called nepelalactone.  This chemical produces a sedative like effect.   To treat internal symptoms, the herb was often taken in the form of catnip tea.  Its applications include combating insomnia, relieving stomach distress, nervousness, gas and cramps.  In addition, the relaxing form of the herb is helpful when used externally for disorders that produce swelling such as arthritis, hemorrhoids and also as an eyewash to relieve allergy eyes.  It is also beneficial for lessening the pain of migraine headaches and colic in babies.  Children who tend to be hyperactive can often be calmed after they sip on a glass of this herbal tea. 

Making herbal tea

Like most mint plants, catnip leaves have oils that are both aromatic and tasty.  The flavor of the tea is slightly lemony, to which honey may be added for additional sweetness if desired.  Its gentle action and mild taste make it a great choice for children’s ailments, as well as adults.  To make catnip tea from homegrown leaves, harvest them just before the plants flower for the most flavor and benefit from the oils.  Add one to two teaspoons of the fresh, crushed leaves in a mug; pour water over that has been brought to a boil then cooled slightly.  Allow this mixture to steep for no longer than 20 minutes before drinking.  To preserve additional catnip for future use, the herb can be dried and stored.  Simply cut several stems and attach them at the base with string or jute.  Hang the bundles in a dark, cool spot until the leaves are fully dried.  Strip the dried, brittle leaves into an airtight container and store until needed.  The leftover stems can be discarded, unless a portion of the catnip will be given to your favorite feline friend; in that case, the stems can be crumbled and added to the dried leaves. 

If you are unable to grow your own catnip, you are still able to receive the healthful benefits of the herb by purchasing it in dried form.  Buying organic catnip is the best choice to ensure that you are not ingesting any harmful chemicals or pesticides.  Check the package for a “packed date” to obtain the freshest harvest.  Catnip tea can be brewed in the same manner as with homegrown leaves.

Relaxing at the end of a stressful day by steeping and sipping a calming cup of tea made from catnip while watching your cat roll blissfully about on the floor in its own little “nip” can be the perfect finish.  You may not even remember the healthy benefits the tea provides until waking up the next morning after a long, restful sleep.