If you’re a cat lover, you’re probably familiar with the strong-scented herb catnip because of its hilarious and extremely entertaining effect on cats. However, while it is popular for this reason alone, did you know that catnip actually contains numerous active compounds that may help improve your overall health?
Aside from being a cat magnet, catnip can also be brewed into a healthy tea. Continue reading this article to learn more about catnip tea and how it can benefit you.
What Is Catnip Tea?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that originates from Central Europe, but is now widely grown in numerous regions around the world. While catnip is typically used in cat products, its effects are not limited to the feline family. Catnip has been used for hundreds of years to flavor dishes and stews, with the earliest documentation dating back to the early 1700s. Catnip was brewed as tea to alleviate numerous health problems, including the common cold, stomach discomfort and hives.1
Numerous parts of the catnip plant may be used to brew tea, namely its roots, leaves and seeds. It may be brewed with lemon or lemon balm to complement its grassy and woodsy flavor.2,3 But aside from its refreshing taste, catnip tea is packed with active components that may help you fight off the effects of daily stress.
What Benefits Can You Get From Catnip Tea?
If you get your hands on fresh catnip, it would be a good idea to brew your first cup of catnip tea. Not only will it rehydrate you, but it will help your body in a variety of ways. Here are some of the benefits that you may get by drinking catnip tea:
- May help reduce anxiety and stress — While catnip has a stimulating effect on cats, the opposite is true for humans. Catnip tea contains nepetalactone, a compound similar to valepotriates, which is found in the popular sedative, valerian.4 These compounds may help reduce the effects of chronic stress and anxiety by promoting calmness and relaxation.5
- Helps ease stomach or intestinal cramps — Catnip tea contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help ease discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. This is especially useful for colicky babies. It may also be beneficial for alleviating menstrual cramps in women.6
- Functions as a diuretic — Some catnip species also function as a diuretic, which is a material that may help get rid of extra fluid in the body.7,8 Due to this, catnip may be prescribed for water retention.9
Catnip Tea Contains Numerous Nutritional Components
Catnip tea contains traces of these active and nutritional components:
- Acetic acid is commonly found in acidic food, such as raw apple cider vinegar. It was found to be useful for combating fat accumulation and fluctuations in blood pressure.10
- Choline — Studies show that choline may decrease heart disease risk, assist in DNA synthesis and help in the production of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter responsible for memory and mood.11,12
- Folic acid is especially useful for reducing the risk of high blood pressure, anemia and possible birth defects in unborn children.13
- Inositol has been linked to the reduction of psychological symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and panic disorders.14
Does Catnip Tea Contain Caffeine?
If you’re trying to limit your caffeine intake because of its undesirable effects, catnip tea would be perfect for you. Catnip tea is caffeine-free, which means that it will not cause any problems in your sleep cycle and concentration.15 In fact, catnip tea may help you relax and calm down due to its mild sedative properties.16 However, if you want to stay awake during the day, be sure to drink this tea only before bedtime as it might cause unwanted drowsiness.17
Brew Your First Batch of Catnip Tea Today
If you’re looking for a new type of tea to try, catnip tea may just be it. With its numerous possible positive health effects, there’s virtually nothing to lose. Here’s a recipe you can follow to make your first batch of catnip tea:18
How to Make Catnip Tea
- 1 tablespoon dried catnip
- 1 cup water
- Raw honey or lemon juice, optional
- In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat.
- Stir in the dried catnip and cover the pot with a lid.
- Let the mixture steep for about five minutes.
- Pour the hot water into a cup or a heated teapot.
- Add honey or lemon juice if needed. Serve.
Here’s a Guide for Drying and Storing Catnip Leaves Correctly
If you currently have catnip growing in your backyard, you have the option of harvesting your own batch and drying the leaves to prolong their shelf life. To help you do this correctly, here is a step-by-step guide from Gardens.com:19
You can harvest catnip leaves anytime during the year, as long as the leaves are fresh. Harvest catnip leaves at midmorning or early afternoon to make sure that the dew has completely evaporated. This will reduce the risk of mildew during the drying process.
Cut the entire stems at the base of the plant. This will help you get a higher yield and will help the plant easily replace what was cut off.
Remove any dirt that has accumulated on the leaves.
Spread the catnip leaves on a drying rack. Leave it in a dry, cool and dark place where the drying racks won’t be disturbed.
You can also tie the catnip leaves in small bundles and hang them up to dry. You’d know when the catnip leaves are dry when they crumble easily between your fingers.
Separate the dried leaves from the stems. Crumble the leaves and flowers into an airtight bag to lock in the remaining moisture. Alternatively, you can keep the catnip leaves in airtight glass containers.
Note that catnip leaves usually lose their potency after a few months, which means that you would need to replenish your stock a few times a year to ensure you’re still getting all the beneficial oils from the leaves.
Catnip Tea Contraindications and Possible Side Effects
There’s no doubt that catnip tea offers advantages to your health. You might even be tempted to add it permanently to your daily routine. However, like other herbal teas, catnip tea may cause a variety of side effects, especially when taken in excess.
In addition, there are certain contraindications, namely drug interactions, which may limit the amount that you may drink. Here are some instances when you should consider skipping a cup of catnip tea:20
- During pregnancy or while breastfeeding — Catnip tea may endanger both the mother’s and unborn child’s life due to its emmenagogue and abortifacient properties.21 It is also not proven safe for breastfeeding mothers due to insufficient studies. It would be best to avoid any kind of intake of catnip tea during these times.
- Before surgery — If you’re undergoing any type of operation, it would be best to avoid drinking catnip tea at least two weeks before the surgery. This will stop the tea from possibly interfering with the central nervous system.
Relaxation May Just Be a Cup of Catnip Tea Away
If you’re like any other person, you’ve probably had problems sleeping or you’ve been on edge at some point in your life. Feeling stress and anxiety is relatively normal, but it doesn’t mean they should be permanent in your life. There are numerous natural ways you can deal with them, and one is by drinking catnip tea.
Catnip tea, together with other relaxation techniques, may help give you a better grasp on your overall well-being. Just make sure that you’re familiar with its potential side effects and contraindications to be on the safe side.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Catnip Tea
Q: Where can you buy catnip tea?
A: Catnip tea may be bought in some natural health food stores. There are also numerous online stores that sell catnip tea. However, make sure that you get your catnip tea from trustworthy sources to get only the highest quality products.
Q: Can you use catnip tea for babies?
A: Catnip tea is usually given to babies to ease colic and gastric distress.22 While sources say that catnip tea is safe, it would be best that you consult a health professional before giving it to your child. This will ensure that you’re giving the right amount for the condition you’re trying to address.
Q: What is catnip tea good for?
A: Catnip tea is especially useful for stress reduction and sleep aid. It may also be useful for detoxification and stomach pain alleviation.
Q: Is catnip tea safe during pregnancy?
A: It would be best that you avoid any intake of catnip tea during pregnancy or if you’re breastfeeding. While catnip tea may help you in a variety of ways, it also contains abortifacient characteristics, which may endanger both you and your unborn child.23