Also known as catmint, nep, cat's wort, field balm and catrup.
Parts used: flowers and leaves
Meridians/Organs affected: lungs, liver, nerves, digestive
Properties: diaphoretic, sedative, nervine, carminative, antispasmodic, emmenogogue, anodyne
Catnip is a member of the mint family. Its name is derived from the fact that cats seem to be fascinated by it. If you have ever seen a feline around this plant you will know what i mean. As it is in the mint family it does have a scent that is kind of a blend of peppermint and pennyroyal. In England they refer to this plant as 'Cat's Fancy'.
Catnip is an aromatic perennial with gray-green, oval-toothed leaves and very tiny spotted purple flowers borne on spikes. It can grow up to three feet tall and flowers from early summer to the first frost in the fall. It is at its most medicinal in August and should be gathered between 10 a.m. and noon.
This plant is famous for its "stimulating" effects on the cat family but it seems to have the opposite effect on humans. As such, catnip is often used as a sedative. It can gently relieve built-up tension that might be the cause of congestion in the nervous system. It has often been used in enemas to relax and restore the bowels. It has also been seen to be effective on hyperactive children and is so mild it is given to colicky infants. Catnip has been employed for its use as a carminative to relieve gas, assistwith upset stomach, and to ease menstrual cramping. Enemas using this herb have been used to reduce fevers. In Europe, it is a popular remedy for diarrhea and bronchitis.
Catnip is well known but not for its culinary use. The mint flavored leaves and flower tips can be added to salads, sauces, soups and in meat dishes (in some places they use it as a meat rub). It is often used as a garnish with a slice of lemon. The leaves have been coated with equal parts of egg white and lemon juice and then dusted with sugar and left to dry. Once dried they are serve as an after-dinner treat.