Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Traditional Indications

Catnip is anxiolytic, antispasmodic, anitussive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, nervine, sedative and tonic. The plant has been cultivated for centuries and has been used both as an herbal medicine and in cooking. It was one of the most important medicinal herbs in medieval monastery gardens. Catnip also known as catmint has a long history of use as a household herbal remedy, being employed especially in treating disorders of the digestive system and, as it stimulates sweating, it is useful in reducing fevers. (1) Catnip is a gentle remedy traditionally indicated for treating restless and irritable children.


Catnip contains an essential oil (consisting of nepetalactone, carvacrol, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, pulegone, thymol, caryophyllene and nepetalinic acid), iridoids, tannins and rosmarinic acid which display antimicrobial qualities. (2)

The soothing effect of catnip is attributed to the substance nepetalactone, (3) and have displayed anxiolytic properties in animal studies. (4)

1. PFAF. Catnip Nepeta cataria 2019.
2. Zomorodian K, Saharkhiz MJ, Rahimi MJ, Shariatifard S, Pakshir K, Khashei R. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activities of essential oil of nepeta cataria L. Against common causes of oral infections. Journal of dentistry (Tehran, Iran). 2013;10(4):329-37.
3. Peterson CJ, Nemetz LT, Jones LM, Coat JR. Behavioral activity of catnip (Lamiaceae) essential oil components to the German cockroach (Blattodea: Blattellidae). Journal of economic entomology. 2002;95(2):377-80.
4. Rabbani M, Sajjadi SE, Mohammadi A. Evaluation of the anxiolytic effect of Nepeta persica Boiss. in mice. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2008;5(2):181-6.


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