Catnip Herb Profile

homemade tincture to help kids sleep betterYou’ve probably heard of Catnip herb before, and true to its name, you probably heard of it in reference to its properties that are highly attractive to felines.

What is much less well-known, are the practical uses of Catnip Herb for humans.

Herbal Uses for Catnip

Catnip is one of my favorite herbs for children. I use it when one of us has a high fever, as it is known to relax the body while increasing perspiration, which helps the infection leave the body faster. It has also been found to settle the stomach and sooth children when they are upset.

Externally, I’ve used Catnip infusions and baths to help with the achy muscles that accompany flu and illness. It can be used externally on the stomach of colicky babies to relax the stomach and help them sleep.

Catnip has natural relaxing and soothing properties. It is one of the ingredients in my Sweet Dreams Sleep Tincture, which is great at helping kids relax and sleep better, especially during illness.

It is said to repel certain insects, and I use Catnip essential oil in my Homemade Bug Spray (recently tested and approved by a reader on a cruise down the Amazon!).

A mild tea made with catnip herb is said to help improve digestion, ease morning sickness, and calm nerves. It’s relaxing properties also make it beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia.

I also keep a small jar of catnip in my kitchen for culinary uses. I add small amounts to sauces, stews, and soups for its flavor and to help improve digestion and nutrient assimilation.

Other uses, from Mountain Rose Herbs:

Scientists have ascertained that the feline reaction to catnip is due to it’s content of nepetalactone. The herb is also strongly anti-fungal and a bactericide for Staphylococcus aureus, as well as a close chemical relative to a number of insect repellants that affect mosquitoes and termites… Catnip has also been used as a sedative to help with insomnia, producing similar effects as Valerian.

Precautions: Check with a doctor before using if pregnant. Can cause drowsiness in extreme doses. Very rare allergic reactions. As always, talk to your health professional before using any herbs, supplements, or medicine.

Where to get Catnip:

I buy my catnip and other herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own teas, tinctures, eye pillows for sleep, and herbal bath salts.

It is also available in capsule form as a sleep aid,  as an herbal tea (in tea bags), as an essential oil for skin use, as an herbal extract with fennel for digestive relief, and Amazon recently started carrying an essential oil blend of the same herbs I use in my herbal bug spray, pre-mixed.

You can also actually find herbal catnip toys for you cats.

Ever used catnip as an herb, or was your knowledge of it limited to the amusing reactions that it gets from cats? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never used it, but I have a good amount growing around my garden that I want to transplant along the side of my house where we have ant issues, and as a ground cover underneath shrubs that line the perimeter of our backyard… to help with mosquitoes.  I would love LOVE to start using these things from my own backyard!  You really are helping me change my life to the way I’ve always dreamed of it being.  Thank you.

    • stan says

      doesn’t seem to repel ants, nor spiders. i have some planted next to my rose bushes to keep the flying critters off, but when i picked some today, it was full of ants. this could also have been to my wife recently watering that part of the yard. water always brings the ants up. the spiders taking roost in my plants is a bit bothersome. i don’t want to make spider web/catnip tea.

      i have a ton of other catnip plants around my yard, since we have 5 cats. they get all goofy, so i had to see what the fuss was about. i made 2 pretty strong cups, and tossed them back with a bit of sugar(was out of honey), made me a bit sweaty, very relaxed, and a lil bit “stoney”. very mild on the last one, but still feeling very good at the moment. i can see why the cats like it. mine eat it and roll around in it.

      i think i need a cat nap. =)

  2. Rebekka says

    At what age would you start giving the tea? My daughter is 7 mos and since we’ve started giving her solids she’s been more prone to gas, and she’s just had a resp virus as well. I’ve given her weak chamomile tea (a couple of tbsp).

  3. Nai107 says

    When giving to a colicky you just make it as a tea and give a small amount in a medicine dispenser? Please help! Thank you.

  4. Jessica says

    I have never made a tincture before, how would I do that with catnip to use for my children? Also, for a bath, do I just sprinkle it in? Thank you!

  5. Rachael Shannon says

    Ok, this might sound a bit wierd, but I was just in Walmart, and saw a can of 100% organic catnip in the pet section. Is this the same kind? Because it was only $5, and that would so rock!

  6. Sarah Waters says

    I’m so glad we have catnip growing in our yard(my cats are glad too). My husband harvested a bunch so I can make homemade bug repellent bars using your recipe. We’re just waiting for it to dry.

    • Gennelle Pipes says

      I grow catnip for my cat. It grows just like mint (same family)
      so be careful where you grow it, unless you want it to take over
      your herb garden.

      • stan says

        You can limit it’s expansion by cutting the white flowering buds, before they dry out and drop their seeds. i trim the whole branch back to almost a nub, and it seems induce further new growth. but like you said, if not careful, they will take over.

        one of thing it noticed, if you chew the little while flowers, they will make your mouth tingle with a minty/numbing feeling. the numbing/tingliness was a bit unexpected, but not entirely unpleasant.

  7. Sami Dosunmu says

    My son 5 year old son has trouble falling asleep. How can I incorporate the catnip herb in his bedtime routine? Currently, I give the hebs to my cats. they love it.

  8. Angela Smith says

    Hi Katie,
    I was wondering your thoughts on making a homemade flea repellant shampoo for dogs with a water infused with catnip, rosemary, feverfew and wormwood. Do you think enough of the oils would be retained to make it effective? Love your lotion bars BTW :)

  9. Courtney says

    Hi. I hate to point this out but it’s important. Pregnant wouldn’t shouldn’t drink catnip tea as if can cause uterine contractions. Catnip tea is known for helping regulate menstrual cycles and blood loss during them. If a pregnant woman is having a miscarriage, catnip tea can help calm nerves and ease her pain.

  10. dani francine says

    In the cat nip article you mention its good for morning sickness, but ive read pregnant women should not have because it can cause miscarriage

  11. Roxane says

    Growing up my mom used to give us capnip and fennel mixed with a small amount of warm water for upset stomach. Was easy to fond at the drug store 40+ years ago. I would love to know if I could make my own.

  12. bernice says


    How much should catnip should I give my 4 and a half year old so she can sleep through the night? She has been waking up 4-5 times a night. Sometimes crying, sometimes not, but either way, it wakes us up at night. She doesn’t come in our room, but she is up. This has been happening for a month already. A cup of catnip seems to much for my child to drink, but do I have to give her the whole cup for her to sleep through the night? I don’t want to give her drugs to help her sleep. This has been happening for over a month already. I’m getting desperate. Any suggestions?


  13. Mary says

    I’ve been using catnip tea for anxiety, and it seems to help. I drink a cup about half an hour before eating, or on an empty stomach. I was drinking it three times a day, but now I’m down to two.

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