Catnip Tea- Benefits & How To Make

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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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.

What is Catnip Tea?

Catnip tea is made from the leaves of the catnip plant, scientifically known as Nepeta catariawhich 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 of effects on human health.

A close-up shot of catnip tea

Catnip tea is known to calm the body down. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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.

Stress Levels

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.

Menstrual Discomfort

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.

Chronic Pain

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.

Antioxidant Properties

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 are linked to an increase in cellular mutation and different types of diseases.

This property can also help prevent signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and age spots on the skin.

Immune System

Catnip tea has been traditionally prescribed for relieving colds and coughs to bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. It has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties that not only provide relief from 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. Here is a detailed recipe.

A close-up shot of catnip tea

How To Make Catnip Tea

Calm your senses with this homemade herbal tea!
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Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: Others
Keyword: catnip tea
Appliance: Stove
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Ishani Bose



  • Bring the water up to a boil in a small pot. 
    A pot of boiling water
  • Add the leaves to a mug or teacup.
  • 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.
  • Add honey or lemon juice, to taste, and enjoy!
    A close up shot of a kettle of herbal catnip tea

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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