The healing power of wild catnip

Catnip is a plant that can grow to a height of one meter and has gray stems. Catnip originally grows wild in Europe and Central and Western Asia. He is now naturalized almost worldwide. This annual plant is attractive to both domestic cats and butterflies, but it repels flies and mosquitoes. Nephew, as it is also called, is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant in the garden. Above all, catnip is a medicinal plant. It is used in phytotherapy for digestive disorders, nervousness and respiratory problems. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing catnip / Source: Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Catnip in the kitchen
  • Catnip as a magic herb
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Catnip for digestive problems
  • Catnip for nervousness
  • Catnip for respiratory problems
  • Dose and safety

Catnip in the kitchen

Catnip can be eaten. The leaves have a lemony taste and fit well in a salad. The taste and smell are reminiscent of mint. You can make a tea from fresh or dried catnip leaves. It is an excellent substitute for lemon balm.

Catnip as a magic herb

This paragraph is only hearsay and never personally tested. Catnip is one of Albert Magnus’s 16 magic herbs. Catnip is used by witches and magicians. They call it ‘bicith’. They mix it with a stone they found in a hoopoe bird’s nest. This mixture has magical powers. When dead flies and bees are placed in this mixture, they come back to life. If the mixture is applied to a beehive, no bees will come out of the hive. If this mixture is inserted into the nose of an animal, it dies and comes back to life after some time. In earlier times in Switzerland a soft-hearted executioner was given a few leaves of catnip. All his pangs of conscience melted away.


In Latin, wild catnip is called Nepeta cataria . A Latin synonym is Cataria vulgaris . In Dutch we know some alternative names such as: catnip, Mastikkruid, Neppe and Neppekruid. It has been given the name catnip because cats love this plant. They wallow around it, rub against it and eat the leaves. Cats like the plant so much that it is difficult to grow one in a garden where cats walk around.

Active substances

The entire herb growing above ground is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following ingredients: iridoids such as epydeoxyloganic acid, 7-deoxyloganic acid, essential oil including nepetalactonic acids, carvacrol and thymol, citronellal, nerol, geraniol, caryophyllene, tannins, flavonoids, vitamins C and E.

Catnip for digestive problems

Wild catnip has an antispasmodic, or despasmodic, effect and a carminative or carminative property. In addition, it is an appetite stimulant and a means that strengthens the stomach. In phytotherapy, these medicinal properties related to digestion are used for the following indications:

Nepeta cataria, wild catnip / Source: Sten Porse, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Gastrointestinal cramps,
  • Flatulence,
  • Meteorism or abdominal distension,
  • Anorexia or lack of appetite,
  • dyspepsia or difficult digestion,
  • Childhood diarrhea.

Catnip for nervousness

There are naturopaths who point to the soothing effect on the nervous system as the most important property of catnip. In medical terms, catnip is called a nervinum; a substance that supports the functioning of the nervous system. The effect is somewhat similar to valerian. It has a sedative or calming effect. It is used as a phytotherapeutic medicine for:

  • Nervousness,
  • Insomnia.

Catnip for respiratory problems

Catnip has a diaphoretic and astringent effect. The antispasmodic effect of this medicinal plant is also useful in the treatment of respiratory problems. It is used by some herbalists for:

  • Cough,
  • Acute and chronic bronchitis,
  • Cold,
  • Flu,
  • Fever.

Catnip works against cataracts.

Dose and safety

There are two standard ways to use this medicinal plant. The therapeutic doses are listed below.

  • Three times a day an infusion of two teaspoons of dried herb that has been boiled for 10 to 15 minutes in 250ml of water.
  • 2 to 6ml tincture (1:25 in 25%) three times a day

Catnip has no toxic effects when taken in the therapeutic dose. Generally speaking, it is a safe herb. However, there are doctors who advise pregnant women against using this plant.