Catmint (Nepeta cataria)Shredded, 50 g
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About Catmint (Nepeta Cataria)
As the name suggests, young catmint leaves have a minty flavor and mild fragrance which makes them a great addition to soups and salads. The older leaves are mostly used as herbs in cooked dishes.
Catmint is also used as a stimulant for cats. Its smell can cause an uptick in activity in felines.
History of Catmint
Nepeta Cataria is a strong-smelling herb belonging to the mint family (hence the name catmint). It has oval-toothed, dark green leaves and white flowers spotted with violet. Although it is native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, because of its drought tolerance and deer resistance, Catmint is widely naturalized in most of Canada, the Northeast United States, New Zealand, and northern Europe.
The name Nepeta is derived from the Etruscan city of Neptic (modern day’s town of Nepi in the province of Viterbo, Italy) where the plant was said to be prominently grown. The French call catmint herbe aux chats and often made tea from catmint before the introduction of Chinese teas.
It was brought to America in the 1800s by the early settlers. Native Americans also began incorporating catmint into their foods and medicinal therapies after being introduced to the plant.
The active ingredient, which causes excited behavior in cats, is a volatile oil called nepetalactone (a compound similar to the valepotriates found in a commonly used herbal sedative, valerian), which can be found in the leaves & stem of the plant. Nepetalactone was first discovered in 1941 by Samuel McElvain at the University of Wisconsin.
Catmint has long been a highly regarded ingredient in herbal medicines and has been in use since medieval times. Though, today the most common use of Catmint for humans is in form of tea. Catmint tea is found to have a relaxing effect.
Effects of Catmint
When administered in the form of tea, Catmint can have calming effects on humans and can help;
- Reduce restlessness
- Boost mood
Catmint is known to induce euphoria in animals, especially felines. However, when ingested, it has a sedative effect on them.
Uses of Catmint
When looking to reap the full benefits of Catmint, it's best to use it in the form of tea. Due to its minty flavor, it can also be used in salads, soups, and sauces. The older herbs can be added to other cooked dishes such as pasta.
When using it for cats, it's best to either spray it on their bed or scratch post or give them toys filled with dried Catmint. Catmint also acts as a repellent for insects including mosquitoes and cockroaches.
Dosage for Catmint
To make catnip tea, mix 2 teaspoons of dried Catmint leaves or flowers with 1 cup of boiling water. Add lemon juice and honey, stir, and let it cool for several minutes. Many people prefer a steeping time of about 10 to 15 minutes.
Catmint tea has a woodsy, almost grassy taste. The longer it sits with lemon in it, the more you’ll taste the natural underlying minty, citrusy flavor.
Keep Catmint in its original packaging in a dry and cool place, out of the reach of children.
A common side effect of Catmint tea is drowsiness, which is often mild. While this is a plus if you’re trying to relax or sleep, it’s not ideal at the beginning of a workday. Drink Catmint tea at night so you can learn how it affects you. It is best to avoid using catnip for infants, children, and pregnant women.