Catnip plant - Nepeta Cataria (Lamiaceae)

Medicinal Use of Catnip – Nepeta Cataria (Lamiaceae)


Downy, aromatic perennial growing to 3 ft (1 m). Has heart-shaped, gray-green leaves and whorls of white flowers with purple spots.

Habitat & Cultivation

Catnip is native to Europe and naturalized in North America. It grows in dry wayside places and in mountainous regions up to altitudes of 5,000 ft (1,500 m). Catnip is gathered when in flower in summer and autumn.

Parts Used

Aerial parts.


Catnip contains iridoids, tannins, and volatile oil (mainly comprising alpha- and beta-nepetalactone, citronellol, and geraniol).

History & Folklore

Pechey’s Compleat Herbal (1694) describes catnip: “’Tis hot and dry. ’Tis chiefly used for obstructions of the womb, for barrenness, and to hasten delivery, and to help expectoration. ’Tis used outwardly in baths for the womb, and the itch.” Catnip has an excitatory effect on cats.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Catnip settles the stomach, is sedative and, as it stimulates sweating, reduces fever. The herb’s pleasant taste and gentle action make it suitable for colds, flu, and fever in children, especially when mixed with elderflower (Sambucus nigra) and sweetened with honey.

Catnip is markedly anti-flatulent, helping to settle indigestion and colic. The herb is also useful in treating headaches related to digestive problems. A tincture is beneficial as a friction rub for rheumatism and arthritis.