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Let’s Talk About: Catnip Herbal Remedies

Amber Shehan โ€ข December 27, 2013

Most people think of cats first when catnip comes up in conversation, but did you know that you can enjoy it too? Just maybe not as much as a cat...

catnip flower - learn more about using catnip at pixiespocket.com

Oh, sweet Catnip!

My yard has a very happy spot in it during the warm months – right next to a sun-warmed rock wall lives a towering bush of catnip. His longest branches have grown to be taller than I am and his flowering tips wave a fond greeting whenever I come down to the garden.

Catnip is verdant, lush, and pleasantly stinky.  I love harvesting it and bringing up an armful of pungent, heady green branches to tie up and dry!

But other than an immediate immersion in sensual pleasure, what good is Catnip?


Anyone who has enjoyed the company of cats in their home has likely given their kitties sprinklings of dried catnip or tossed them a small sachet stuffed full of it, and watched them roll around with it like they’ve lost their mind.  It’s a hoot to see them frolic and be goofy instead of their usual pretentious posturing!

My cat and I have an agreement when it comes to catnip.  I grow it, harvest it, dry it, and I get to use some of the pungent buds and leaves for teas and herbal medicine as long as I make sure to have enough to get her through winter.  When I’m stripping the dried catnip from its branches, I save the buds in one jar and the leaves in another.  Most of those leaves go to my kitty.  I spoiled her early on and she can’t abide the store-bought dried and sifted catnip flakes!  It’s organic and homegrown for her or nothing!

Catnip Herbal Remedies

Nepeta cataria. Catswort. Catmint. This simple plant has many names, and many uses, as well!

A young catnip plant coming back in early spring

Catnip Tea:  An infusion of catnip buds and leaves makes quite a pleasant cuppa tea, and I enjoy the flavor on its own.  

Cough and Colds: The tea feels particularly effective when paired with honey, especially to help relieve the symptoms of common cough and cold. It can help to make you sweat without raising your temperature, and it also helps to relax the body – a good combo for pushing a light fever through and out of the system.

Relaxation: Catnip tea is very soothing for the mind and emotions and it is mild enough to be used for young children, too. ย For an extra-calming summertime brew, catnip and chamomile iced tea are delicious, too!

Tummy Soother: Being part of the mint family, aromatic catnip is good for soothing an upset tummy. It is gentle enough to use for morning sickness during pregnancy. It helps to relieve gas pain and bloating, even when used externally.  I know a few Mamas who have wrapped their colicky infant’s tummies in catnip tea-soaked washcloths to very good effect!

Smoking:  Catnip gives a very mild heady hum in the front of the forehead when smoked.  It does not incapacitate nor make one inebriated, in my experience. It has a green, light flavor to it and I enjoy adding it into smoking blends. It pairs nicely with mullein and mugwort!

Tincture: Many people use catnip tincture (or essential oil) in their bug-spray blends, which is a project I’ve not yet done but aim to try soon!

Growing Catnip

I have sometimes had issues with neighborhood cats destroying catnip plants, but my chickens also love to peck at the leaves!  I have heard that catnip plants are good repellants for aphids and squash borers, but I haven’t tried using catnip as a deterrent in garden edging yet. I’ve also heard that it is good for chasing off rats, but that could be due to the increased interest of neighborhood cats hanging around your plant!

I’ve definitely noticed that the pinky, purple flowers attract a lot of pollinators, from moths and butterflies to native bees and other long-tongued buggies.

You can get catnip herb or catnip seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs or Richters if you don’t have a local garden shop nearby to help you out!


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Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!


  1. Jeavonna Chapman on January 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for all the info about Catnip.

  2. […] Catnip leaves and flowers are quite good at helping with coughs and colds, as it increases sweating without raising the body temperature any higher.  I love catnip enough that I’ve written up a profile: Let’s Talk About: Catnip […]

  3. Janet Pesaturo on August 19, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Great article, Amber. We have lots of a related plant, catmint, in our garden, and our cats do love to roll around in it. One of them spends the day curled up within it, and comes back smelling very herbal, LOL. We call him potpourri kitty ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amber Shehan on August 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Ha! That’s sweet. My kitty loves the freshly harvested plants! I have to give her a stem to roll around on the floor with so I can manage to process the rest of the harvest. ๐Ÿ™‚ My dog gets jealous and I have to throw her one, too…she doesn’t go crazy over it, though. I love potpourri kitty!

  4. […] Let’s Talk About: Catnip — It’s good for a lot more than making Kitty happy. Though it’s pretty good for that, too! […]

  5. Mike @ Gentleman Homestead on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I had no idea catnip is so versatile. I have seeds stored away and will definitely be adding some to the herb garden since we adopted two cats a couple weeks ago.

    I’ve used catnip as a mosquito repellent to great effect by crushing some leaves and rubbing it around on the skin. We have friends who live (not in a van) down by the river and they grow a bunch of it for that purpose.

    • Amber Shehan on August 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Oh, nice, Mike! I’ve never used it directly for bug repellant, although I’ve heard that the essential oil is often used in bug-away blends. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the smell of catnip, so I’ll have to try the leaf-rubbing next time I’m being buzzed by a mosquito. IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!!! *giggle*

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