Catnip Essential Oil
Feline lovers are no doubt familiar with how their pets go crazy for this herb. It is the ultimate cat drug, it stimulates them and makes them act a bit nuts which is always great fun for the family and gives their owners the opportunity for 5 minutes of youtube fame-if viewing figures are anything to go by, then people really do enjoy watching cats go mad.
But did you know that catnip is not only for the cats? And unlike the reaction that our feline friends experience, catnip which is also known as catmint has a calming and sedative effect on humans.
The catnip plant, botanically known as Nepeta Cataria, was native to Europe and certain regions of Asia but it is able to thrive in pretty much any conditions and these days is grown extensively around the globe.
It has a history of use as an herbal remedy especially in Europe where it has been used for centuries to promote calm and to aid digestion. In France, its leaves were added to stews and sauces for flavor and to aid digestion.
While the plant is still popularly used to make herbal teas, it is also harvested these days for its essential oil. Catnip essential oil is derived from the plant’s leaves by steam distillation and is used to treat a wide variety of ailments both physical and mental. It can be used topically and in aromatherapy.
Catnip essential oil has a variety of therapeutic properties which give it a number of potential medicinal uses. Catnip also contains vitamins C and E which is are excellent natural antioxidants.
Its chemical composition which includes nepetalactone, citral, linalool, and thymol gives it a host of medicinal properties which include the following:
Uses of Catnip Essential Oil
While catnip has traditionally been used to promote calm and ease digestive complaints, it also has a range of other potential therapeutic uses.
It seems surprising that an herb so well-known for exciting our pets would have the opposite effect when used by humans. However, the chemical compound responsible for stimulating our feline friends- nepetalactone -has no discernible effect on humans.
One of the most popular uses of catnip and its essential oil is to calm the mind and deal with feelings of anxiety and stress. It has mild sedative properties making it a good choice for those suffering from insomnia or anxiety issues.
Catnip essential oil has carminative properties, which basically means that it can help relieve any build-up of gas in the intestines. An excess of gas can be very painful and can lead to very nasty symptoms such as acute stomach pain and even chest pains. Catnip essential oil is said to be an effective way to ease gas and treat any complications naturally.
Due to its stomachic properties, catnip essential oil is also said to be a natural way to keep your digestive system in full working order. It is said to be able to treat a number of stomach complaints such as ulcers and ensure the proper balance of acids and gastric juices in the stomach.
Catnip essential oil possesses both diuretic and diaphoretic properties which mean that it can help the body to excrete unwanted toxins and speed up the detoxification process.
As a natural diaphoretic, catnip essential oil helps promote perspiration which does not sound desirable but profuse sweating is an effective way to get rid of toxins and excess salt from the system especially when you are unwell.
Sweating can even reduce your blood pressure and help rid yourself of fevers. Because catnip essential oil is also diuretic in nature, it can be used to stimulate both the frequency and production of urination.
That makes catnip oil an effective natural alternative for those who have been prescribed diuretics because of the excess build-up of water in their system. It can help your body to remove uric acid and other toxins, regulate blood pressure and even to lose weight caused by water retention.
Helps regulate menstruation
Catnip essential oil has emmenagogue properties and although there is no scientific evidence it is said to stimulate hormone secretions which helps regulate menstruation. Women who are suffering from obstruction or irregular menstruation can benefit from catnip oil. It is also said to ease the cramps and pains suffered during menstruation
Rejuvenates the skin
If your skin is looking tired and your muscles are getting loose then massaging catnip oil into your body can help. This is because catnip essential oil has astringent properties which have a tightening effect on skin, muscles and even the gums. As with nearly all essential oils, make sure that you dilute catnip oil with a suitable carrier oil before applying it to your skin
Catnip essential oil has anti-inflammatory compounds and is used to help ease joint pains caused by rheumatism as well as other inflammatory conditions.
Catnip essential oil can be used as a tonic to aid the nervous system. It is said to be capable of treating a variety of nervous disorders such as vertigo, anxiety related symptoms and shaking limbs. It can also be used to activate the nervous system and combat sluggishness and poor reflexes.
Colds and flu
Because of its antimicrobial activity, catnip essential oil can be used to treat common illnesses such as the common cold and the flu.
For Cramps and spasms
This oil has antispasmodic properties that can help relieve a number of common complaints like muscle cramps and also other conditions caused by spasms whether they are muscular, respiratory or intestinal.
Catnip oil is not only effective in treating the body and the mind; it can also be diffused in and around the home to get rid of mosquitoes and other bugs. There as actually been a fair bit of scientific research into catnip’s effectiveness in repelling insects and it is used as an ingredient in a number of commercial pesticides and insect repellents.
One study published in Science Daily back in 2001 found that catnip oil was a more effective mosquito repellent than DEET. The researchers noted that the compound responsible for catnip’s unique odor – nepetalactone was a whopping ten times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. (1)
This is significant since DEET is the compound most used in commercial bug repellents. Catnip offers a far safer and more natural alternative to DEET.
If you do not have a diffuser, you can make your own mosquito spray by adding a few drops of catnip oil to a spray bottle of water. If you add sandalwood oil to the mix, you might get even better results.
How to Use Catnip Essential Oil
Like any other essential oil, there are various ways for you to use catnip oil. The method you use will depend on the condition that you are trying to treat.
- Inhalation : You can inhale catnip oil directly from the bottle or from your hands to help calm your body and mind.
- Diffuse : Catnip oil can be diffused in a diffuser machine in your home or office. It blends very well with various essential oils including peppermint, myrrh, eucalyptus, geranium, citronella, lemon and lime essential oils.
- Topical Application: To treat the skin, you can dilute your catnip essential oil in a carrier oil and apply it to the affected areas.
- Topical Insect Repellent : Combine your catnip oil with some distilled water, witch hazel, and a carrier oil. Add to a spray bottle and spray liberally on your skin whenever you want to keep the mosquitoes and other bugs away.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Catnip essential oil used for?
Catnip essential oil may not be the most popular of essential oils but it has a broad range of uses. It can be used to regulate menstruation and the nervous system, detox the body and calm down a stressed mind. It can also be applied topically to the skin to help rejuvenate a tired and sagging appearance. Catnip oil is also a very effective, natural insect repellent.
What happens if you give a dog catnip?
Although catnip oil acts as a stimulant for your feline friends, it has totally the opposite effect on your dogs. If you give your dog catnip, it will actually have a mild, sedative effect on your pet. It can be used to naturally sedate dogs that are nervous about a trip to the vets or traveling in the car.
Is Catnip more effective than DEET?
According to one published study, catnip makes for a more effective mosquito repellent than DEET. The researchers found that a compound called nepetalactone found in catnip is significantly more effective than DEET.
How do you use Catnip essential oil?
You can apply diluted catnip oil topically to help give your skin a healthy boost. You can also use it as an ingredient in a homemade insect repellent spray. To balance the body and mind and to relieve colds, try inhaling your catnip oil directly or via a diffuser.
Is catnip essential oil safe?
Catnip oil is non-toxic and generally considered safe as long as it is used correctly. It should never be ingested or applied to the skin undiluted since it can cause irritation to the skin. Catnip oil should not be used by pregnant women or children.
What does catnip essential oil blend with?
Catnip essential oil blends well with a variety of citric essential oils like lime, lemon and orange. It also blends well with eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint and myrrh essential oil.
- Make sure that you dilute catnip essential oil before applying it directly to your skin. If you want to make a massage blend, then dilute it in the appropriate quantity with your choice of carrier oil.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should always err on the side of caution before using any essential oils as not enough is known regarding its effect on the fetus or young children. There is also some concern that catnip can stimulate the uterus which may result in miscarriage.
- Catnip essential oil can stimulate menstruation so women with pelvic inflammatory disease should avoid using it. It can also make menstruation heavier and therefore worsen already heavy menstruation.
- Because catnip has diuretic effects, those already taking diuretic medications should consult their doctor before using catnip essential oil.
- Because of its sedative effects, it should not be used by those already on sedative medication because it can amplify the sedative effects.
- Catnip might have an adverse interaction with lithium by altering the manner in which the body removes lithium and thereby increasing the amount of lithium left in the body.
Catnip essential oil is far from being the most popular essential oil on the market. However, it has a variety of excellent health benefits stemming from its many medicinal properties. It has sedative, carminative, nervine, emmenagogue, and diuretic properties as well as astringent benefits when applied to the skin.
Research also suggests that catnip oil is a great natural alternative to DEET for repelling mosquitoes. There is not any good evidence to suggest it would work well as a tick repellent, however.
If you have ever used catnip oil, please let us know what you thought of it and why you used it. We would be very pleased to hear from you.