Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Catnip--Not Just For Cats!


This is first of at least seven harvests of catnip that will be coming in from behind my boyfriend's Mom's chicken house. Isn't it beautiful?

Catnip is also known as catmint, catnep, catrup, catswort, & field balm. In my experience, there may be ten more things it is called by different people in different areas of the world.

When my oldest child (born in 1986) was a couple weeks old, Mama took me to meet an older lady, really, I think Mama was going to buy a roll (not a bolt) of cloth from her son. At any rate this lady was looking at Virgillia and said, "That youngin's a gonna have the colic. You got some catnip? Can tell by looking in her eyes."

I did not have any catnip growing so she had her great grand daughter go get me some, a lot. It was a paper grocery sack plum full! She told me, 'Now that ain't a gonna be enough, but it'll get you started on saving your sanity. Make a gallon at the time and I reckon that you'll a be going through a that every day. It'll be starting in about two weeks."

Well, she was right. Colic set in. I made catnip tea by the gallon every day for the baby and another half gallon for my nerves! The doctor gave me Mylicon drops for her, the older nurse winked and said, "Don't stop making that tea." 

It helped. It kept me calm. It calmed her for varying time periods. Someone at church recommended onion tea when the catnip ran out and I couldn't find anymore. It helped too.

Years later another friend, Hilda, told me to give my son, Franklin some catnip. He was five weeks old and had not broken out in that baby acne yet. She said the catnip would break him out, (all my others had had it at 4 weeks) and that if they did not get it by six weeks, they would die-so the old women said. Well, i did not give him any, he never broke out in baby acne and he died just a few minutes shy of being 80 days old. (I don't believe that is why. He was sent here for a mission and he did accomplish that. That's another story for another post.)

Back to catnip, it is currently included in many commercials teas that are sold for "calming" or "sleeping".  It can bought in bulk from many sources. As anyone that has ever planted just a sprig or two will know, it is very prolific and virile!

It has a mild minty flavor. It does drive some cats crazy. Others will just look at it, sniff and walk off.

Scientific Name-Nepeta cataria

The medicinal part is the herb.

Through the centuries it has been used for many reasons. New research suggests it is useful for other things also.

Some of the uses through the ages:

  1. Anodyne-soothes or relieves pain
  2. Antispasmodic-relieves or checks spasms or cramps
  3. Aromatic-agreeable odor and stimulating qualities
  4. Carmanitive-expels gas from the intestine
  5. Diaphoretic-promotes perspiration
  6. Anti-diarrheal
  7. To help Chronic Bronchitis   
  8. Planting around the garden to repel aphids and squash bugs.
New Discoveries:

  1. Attractant-irididial has been shown to attract lacewings which eat aphids and mites.
  2. Nepetalactone when extracted from catnip is said to be as good as DEET as a mosquito, roach & termite repellent.
Anytime you give an herbal tea as medicine, do not add sweetener of any kind. In the case of catnip, it is sweet on its own. If you have a patient that flat refuses to take it without sweetener, use a small amount of local, organic, un-processed honey that the the bees have not had access to GMO plants. Do not boil catnip. Bring water to a boil. Cool slightly-about 3 minutes. Pour over catnip in a non-metal & non-plastic container. Let steep.

Catnip tea can be given for upset stomach, colic, spasms, flatulency and excess acid in the stomach. 

Catnip can be taken as a tea, tincture, in capsules, juiced, as a poultice or smoked.

Please refer to my page on how to prepare herbs for use.

The Herb Book by John Lust

Please click here to read Medical Disclaimer for this blog.