Hello everyone, my name is Julia, I am excited to begin exploring herbal health and wellness with Mountain Song Herbals this year. I’m just breaking into my education in medicinal plants and some have caught me by surprise. Catnip for example; as a cat owner I thought the only purpose for Catnip was to provide my feline friends with an entertaining afternoon. However, I am learning there are many medicinal properties in Catnip that have human applications.
Catnip is in several of the tea blends and herbal formulas that Mountain Song Herbals makes, like a tasty tea called Lucid Dream tea.
Catnip, known as Nepeta Cataria in Latin, is a mild herb from the mint family. I have been reading in books like Thomas Easley and Steven Horne’s new book “Modern Herbal Medicine”, that catnip has traditionally been used to soothe upset stomachs, indigestion, reduce stress, aid in relieving cough & cold symptoms, it can even be used as a sleep aid. Horne and Easley explain that this herb is even mild enough for infants and when mixed with fennel, has been used to treat colic. According to Matthew Wood in his book “The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism”, Catnip can also be used to treat external skin conditions such as acne, hives and measles. I had no idea!
In relation to the warming or cooling qualities of catnip, I have come across two sources with differing information. In “The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism”, Matthew Wood indicates it is a hot diaphoretic. However, Horne and Easley state in “Modern Herbal Medicine” that catnip is a cooling diaphoretic. Both resources agree on the multiple uses for the herb as I’ve discussed above.
This soft, almost downy plant is a hardy perennial that can grow in a variety of soils but grows best in well drained, full sun areas. It is native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and parts of China and has naturalized across the USA. It is also an excellent home garden plant to grow and I am excited to get to watch it grow this summer in the gardens at Mountain Song Herbals. Sam says it is most inviting to sit next to in the gardens and the flavor of the dried herb pales in comparison to fresh leaves. With such a wide variety of applications, I suspect I will come across catnip often in my studies. So check her out and get to know this little plant yourself, I think you will be very pleased you did.
Horne, Steven and Thomas Easley. Modern Herbal Medicine. Utah: The School of Modern Herbal Medicine, 2014.
Wood, Matthew. The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism. California: North Atlantic Books, 2004.
Photos from Mountain Song Herbals catnip garden 2014 taken by Sam Steffens