Some of the surprising benefits of catnip tea include its use in soothing pain, easing sleep, reducing stomach discomfort, moderating stress levels, eliminating colic, boosting the immune system, preventing headaches and lessening menstruation symptoms. Although there are many positive effects, catnip tea can also cause excess urination, drowsiness and heavy menstrual bleeding, particularly when consumed in excess.
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What is Catnip Tea?
Catnip tea is made from the leaves of the catnip plant, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, which is a member of the mint family. It has been in use for centuries, and while catnip is often associated with feline friends, it is highly valued in traditional medicine practices. The high levels of antioxidants and active compounds, such as limonene, acetic acid, biotin, inositol, folic acid, pantothenic acid, sodium, nepetalic acid, sulfur and vitamin A and B, all make catnip tea a powerful home remedy that can have a wide range range of effects on human health.
What is Catnip Tea Good For?
Catnip tea is particularly good for people suffering from cramps, bloating, cold and flu, headaches, stress, anxiety, depression, heavy menstruation, chronic pain, insomnia, indigestion and various conditions caused by oxidative stress. When prepared appropriately and drunk in moderation, it can deliver all of the following health benefits.
While catnip seems to wire cats and make them manic, it is also pleasure-inducing, and can release certain relaxing neurotransmitters in the brain. In this sense, it is a drug to cats. In humans, the active ingredients in catnip tea can have soothing and relaxant properties, and will help to rebalance stress hormone levels, particularly if you suffer from chronic anxiety.
Famed for its role in easing menstrual symptoms, catnip tea can ease the pain of menstrual cramps and bloating, while the mood-altering effects of this tea can help reduce other common symptoms of menstruation, such as depression, irritability and mood swings.
Catnip is packed with volatile compounds and antioxidants, many of which are analgesic in nature. If you consistently suffer from pain following an injury, surgery, or long-term illness, or if you are dealing with an acute case of pain, a cup or two of catnip tea each day can help maintain a rather neutral level of pain relief.
This unusual tea is also great for inflammation throughout the body, and is known to relieve inflamed tissues, joints and muscles. Certain compounds in catnip tea mimic muscle relaxants, which adds to the feelings of relaxation you can enjoy after drinking a cup. This is also the property that makes catnip tea so valuable for young children and infants, given that it can soothe colic, as well as break fevers.
Catnip tea is often prescribed for upset stomachs by natural healers, as it can relieve the tight, knotted-up feelings in the gut, while also promoting bowel movements and urination. It can relax the smooth muscles of the bowels to relieve constipation, while also reducing excess flatulence and bloating.
Antioxidants, such as vitamin A, found in catnip tea are able to seek out free radicals throughout the body and lower the risk of oxidative stress in critical organ systems. These free radicals can lead to cellular mutation and cancer, as well as many other types of chronic disease, but this tea will help keep you safe. This property can also help prevent signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and age spots on the skin.
Catnip tea has been traditionally prescribed to treat everything from colds and coughs to bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. It has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties that not only treat the symptoms of an illness, but also neutralize the underlying infection causing those symptoms.
As a sedative substance, catnip tea should be taken when drowsiness or fatigue is desired, which is why this tea is often a pre-sleep beverage. If you suffer from insomnia or chronic restlessness, a strong cup of this tea can give you a restful night’s sleep. However, do not drink this tea before operating heavy machinery or getting behind the wheel of a car.
How Do You Make Catnip Tea?
Catnip tea is easy to make at home, and requires nothing more than a pot, some fresh/dried catnip, and a bit of lemon juice or honey to taste. Fresh catnip leaves can be cut to release more of the potent oils into the tea for a stronger brew, or they can be used whole. If you are growing your own catnip plant, follow these simple instructions to make dried leaves.
First, cut the fresh stems off of the plant and gather them in bunches. Hang them upside-down in a cool, dry place. When they are completely dried, separate the leaves from the stems and throw the stems away. Place the dried leaves in an airtight bag and crumble them before storing the leaves in a dry, dark place until you are ready to use them.
- 3 teaspoons of fresh catnip leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried catnip leaves)
- 2 cups of water (filtered)
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or honey, to taste
Step 1 – Bring the water up to a boil in a small pot.
Step 2 – Add the leaves to a mug or tea cup.
Step 3 – Remove the water from the heat and wait until it stops boiling before pouring it over the leaves in the cup. Excess heat can compromise many of the benefits derived from catnip leaves.
Step 4 – Add honey or lemon juice, to taste, and enjoy!
Catnip Tea for Babies and Cats
You can use catnip tea for infants and cats, although it should be administered in much smaller and less concentrated doses. For babies, catnip tea is well known to improve symptoms of colic, reduce fevers and stop muscle spasms or gastric distress. For cats, on the other hand, who love catnip is every form, this tea is a wonderful treat that can also help improve your cat’s health, thanks to its many nutrients and active compounds. The two recipes below are altered for proper intake for cats and infants.
Catnip Tea Recipe (Infants)
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried catnip leaves
- 1 cup of water
Step 1 – Add the catnip leaves to a teapot or large mug.
Step 2 – Bring the water up to a high simmer, but not a boil.
Step 3 – Pour the water into the teacup/mug and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.
Step 4 – Add 1-2 teaspoons of this tea to your infant’s formula 3 times each day.
Step 5 – Do not add any sweeteners to this mixture. Store the excess tea in the refrigerator between use.
Catnip Tea Recipe (Cats)
- 1 tablespoon of dried catnip leaves
- 8 ounces of water (filtered)
- 1 tablespoon of milk
Step 1 – Place the catnip leaves in a tea strainer
Step 2 – Bring the water up to a boil, and then allow it to cool for a minute or two.
Step 3 – Add the water to a teacup and steep the leaves for 5-10 minutes.
Step 4 – Mix in the milk and then pour the mixture into a saucer for your feline friend!