Catnip: The Wonder Herb

Did you know that catnip is more than just entertainment for you and your cat? Check out the scoop from Feline Wellness

Catnip is crafty, just like its namesake. It has both euphoric and calming properties. It wakes up the nervous system, and also turns it right down. It’s a cool herb, with a veritable feast of uses for our feline friends, and for us!

A member of the mint family, catnip has been used medicinally for over 1,000 years. It has a variety of names: Nepeta cataria, catmint, catnep, catswort, field balm and menta de gato. The name Nepeta is thought to be derived from the Roman town Nepeti, where catnip was once cultivated. In ancient Egypt, catnip was considered sacred to the cat goddess Bast. Catnip tea was a popular drink in England until black tea was imported from China.

2015-05-27_1455Catnip stimulates the appetite, aids digestion, helps calm nervous animals and encourages restful sleep. It is often used as a cold and flu remedy, and is widely recognized for its ability to support the gastrointestinal tract, relieving flatulence and even stopping diarrhea. Catnip is rich in iron, selenium, potassium, manganese, vitamins A and C, and also contains magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chromium, sodium and B vitamins.

The nepetalactone isomers found in catnip cause intoxication in our feline companions, but they also have antibacterial and antifungal properties, act as a muscle relaxant, and even have a restful, sedative effect. Nepetalactone is similar to the valepotriate found in valerian.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy, author of The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, first published in 1955, said that animals look for “remedial cures” to heal themselves. So it’s no surprise that our kitties instinctively seek out catnip for their well being!

Stop in to the Barkery for all kinds of catnip treats and toys! Also, read more for homemade cat treats.