An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Catnip - Nepeta cataria - family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae) (Mint Family).

This is a perennial herb that grows to about three feet high. It has downy toothed grayish-green heart-to-oval-shaped leaves. In the summer and fall it produces whitish flowers. The flowers are followed by small seeds (nutlets). Famous for entertaining cats. In Europe, the leaves have been used in salads and as a spice. Leaves were used as the base for a traditional folk tea in England, especially before the introduction of China tea, Camellia sinensis, in the 1600s. Traditional European folk use of leaves to make tea used as a remedy for anxiety, bronchitis, colds, diarrhea, fever, flu, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, intestinal gas and nervousness. Traditionally used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Modern American folk use of leaves as a remedy for stress. The leaves have been used as a poultice for cuts and bruises. Dried leaves have been traditionally made into a soothing tea. Smoking dried leaves gives mild euphoria with apparently no recorded adverse side effects. The leaves have been traditionally used in Europe as a topical folk remedy to relieve toothache. In Europe, Asia and Africa the leaves are traditionally used as a base for an herbal tea. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: a possible side effect is indigestion. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1840 to 1870. Native to Europe and Asia. Naturalized in eastern, central and western North America. Naturalized in California. Cultivated as an herb and as an ornamental in North America.




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Web page last updated on 20 May 2003.