Catnip: more uses than you knew.

We all know that catnip drives cats silly with joy. By rubbing fresh or air dried catnip into your cat’s scratching post or toys you will encourage play and exercise. Also, sprinkling catnip in a new environment will encourage shy cats to be comfortable and help cat-to-cat introductions go smoothly. Catnip also helps reduce stress-related destructive behaviors. But did you know that as a insect repellent catnip is 10 times more potent against mosquitoes than DEET? Read on for a full discussion.

But first, some things you may not have known about this highly (pun intended) versatile plant. 

  • 30 percent of house cats, do not react to catnip. 
  • 100 percent of people do not react to catnip.
  • Cats cannot overdose on catnip. 
  • Cats of all sizes react to catnip. Think about this before you plant any outdoors if you live in bobcat or mountain lion country.

Catnip tea

Catnip is a member of the mint family of plants and makes an excellent tea.
Catnip tea is most commonly used to treat nervousness and anxiety, along with other symptoms these conditions can cause, such as indigestion and insomnia.

It may be used to treat conditions or symptoms related to gastrointestinal upset, including indigestion, cramping, and gas.

  • It can act as a diuretic, increasing urination and thus decreasing water retention. This could help in the treatment of a number of different conditions.
  • Catnip tea has historically been used to treat issues like arthritis, coughs, hives, fevers, and viruses.
  • Catnip tea’s biggest health benefit is the calming effect that it can have on the body. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which is similar to the valepotriates found in a commonly used herbal sedative, valerian. This can improve relaxationTrusted Source, which may boost mood and reduce anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness.
  • Catnip tea can stimulate uterine contractions, which can help women or girls with delayed menstruation get their periods. It may also help promote evacuations of the placenta following childbirth.


Growing catnip

Catnip is easy to grow indoors or outside. Indoors, simply put a half dozen seeds in a flower pot 1/8 inch deep. Keep moist. Plants will sprout in 7-14 days. They like lots of sun.. Thin to one or two of the most dominant plants when a few inches tall. Outdoors, plant seeds after danger of last frost. Thin or transplant the seedlings to 12 inches apart when they are 2 inches tall. Keep plants full by pinching the growing stems and flower buds when they appear.

Harvest leaves by cutting stems anytime during the growing season. The plants are perennial. Outdoors they will come back yearly. Indoors they can live for years.

Catnip as bug repellant

As a mosquito repellent, catnip is ten times as effective as DEET.*

Summary of Scientific Research:

The chemical in catnip which has such a profound effect on cats is called nepetalactone. This same active ingredient, when distilled into an essential oil medium, can also prevent mosquitos from spotting you with their hypersensitive olfactory organs.

One study from 2010 reached this conclusion by testing the effects of catnip oil on a variety of flying insects. This study found that when applied in areas where flies and similar insects were heavily present, a wax made from catnip oil was able to repel around 99% of observed flies for around three hours.

Iowa State University’s Entomology Department in 2001 found that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were up to 10 times more sensitive to catnip compared to commercially available DEET. 23

As far as choosing a plant-based mosquito repellant is concerned, catnip is certainly among the more broadly useful options. This plant’s mint-like leaves can be crushed up to extract their oils or dried for use in tea.

Catnip sprigs (both leaves and stems) can be manually crushed up to create an oily substance that can be applied to the skin to keep some mosquitoes away.

While still growing on the main bush, catnip leaves can be occasionally “agitated” in order to release some of their oils into the air.

Meanwhile, if you want to try out catnip oil without taking the time to grow the plant from scratch, you may consider purchasing a vial of this essential oil online. If used in this form, you should consider diluting this oil with water or another base oil in order to efficiently apply it to your skin.



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