Catnip or Nepeta cataria – as the plant is called in botanical jargon – is gladly made available to Velvet Paws to make toys or scratching furniture more interesting. Because the plant or the essential oils in it have a slightly intoxicating effect on cats. But is the plant poisonous to humans and animals or even edible?
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Toxic or not?
Nepeta cataria can be purchased already dried or you can plant it yourself. The plant can be easily cultivated in the garden or on the windowsill. However, if cats live in the household, you have to reckon with the animals rolling around in the plant or nibbling on it.
This is not a problem for the animals themselves, because catnip is not poisonous but edible. If you want to use the Nepeta cataria for human consumption, however, cat hair and kinked shoots could be annoying. A culture in a pot in a place inaccessible to cats is then better.
It’s the crowd that counts
Although catnip is not toxic to cats, it should only be used in small amounts. Because in small doses it has a slightly intoxicating effect, but in larger doses it can trigger aggressiveness in cats. Putting a small pinch of dried mint on food or a toy once a week is fine.
On the other hand, giving the dried and shredded herb free daily access or sprinkling it on any toy or cat furniture can cause unwanted behavior. In addition, treats with catnip or scented sachets should not be available all the time – even if they are safe for cats to eat. Due to the effect of the essential oils and the use in herbal medicine, catnip should also be fed in moderation and not in bulk.
Consuming too much can cause vomiting and fatigue. However, the symptoms usually go away on their own if you drink enough and rest. In addition, of course, the amount of recording should be reduced in the future.
Edible and fresh
Catnip is also not poisonous to humans, but edible. Blossoms and leaves are suitable, for example, as an ingredient in salads, as an edible decoration on the plate or in desserts. Cultivated forms and varieties with a lemon aroma, such as the Odeur Citron variety, are particularly recommended.
Even without the fresh, lemony scent and taste, catnip is an enrichment on the menu, which is why it is definitely worth growing it on the windowsill or integrating it into the herb garden.
As with cats, the same applies to humans: mint is not problematic in moderation, but it should not be consumed in large quantities.
effect and use
Nepeta cataria has been used in herbal medicine and as a home remedy since the Middle Ages, because the secondary plant substances, essential oils and other substances have various effects. It is believed that catnip can have the following effects:
- relaxing and calming
- slightly euphoric
It is therefore suitable for both external and internal use, for example for use as a tea or as a poultice.
Application and preparation options
As a herbal remedy, catnip is comparatively versatile and is said to be able to provide relief for various ailments. These include, among others:
- Treat wounds such as scrapes, cuts, or abrasions with a poultice made of crushed catnip, as this has an antibacterial effect
- Catnip stimulates the appetite before meals and aids in digestion after meals
- Catnip tea can have a calming and positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract and thus relieve cramps, flatulence or other digestive problems
- Catnip is said to have antipyretic, detoxifying and antibacterial effects for colds and diseases of the respiratory tract
- Muscle and menstrual cramps are said to be alleviated by the antispasmodic effect of catnip
- In the case of excitement, fear and nervousness, catnip is said to have a calming effect and lift the spirits
- Difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through the night can be alleviated by the calming and relaxing effect if catnip is consumed directly before going to bed
- Inflammatory pain associated with arthrosis, but also migraines or body aches associated with an infection, are said to be alleviated by catnip
- If a toothache can’t get you to a dentist right away, chewing on catnip is said to provide some relief
As varied as the supposed effects of catnip are, it is not a miracle cure. It should therefore only be considered as an adjunct and support to the actual treatment. In the case of serious complaints, a doctor must be consulted in any case.
In addition to consuming the leaves and flowers, catnip can also be drunk as a tea. There are just a few things to keep in mind when preparing it. These are:
- Wash and finely chop the catnip or use dried catnip.
- Put one to two heaped teaspoons of the herb in a cup.
- Pour hot but not boiling water over them. It should be 250 milliliters of hot water for one or two teaspoons.
- Leave covered for 15 to 20 minutes.
Two to three cups of it can be drunk daily. If symptoms such as diarrhea or nausea occur, the intake must be discontinued. This also applies if the herb is consumed in other ways.